Gulf Power: The AMR Middle East car prepped for Le Mans. (AMR Teams)
Gulf nations have a very soft spot for car racing. So soft that the Middle East has played a key role in the expansion of Formula One's expansion of late. CNN reported a few years ago that between 2003 and 2008, Middle East nations spent $11.3 billion on motor sports, led by Abu Dhabi's $2.5 billion Motorcity and Qatar's revamp of its Losail MotoGP track. Bahrain, too, when it's not honing its skull-cracking skills against its own democracy-demanding citizens, is big into Formula 1.
So it's no surprise that the United Arab Emirates have their own car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans--the Gulf AMR Middle East car, driven by Frenchman Fabien Giroix, Mike Wainwright of Britain and German Roald Goethe, and owned by Frédéric Fatien, Roald Goethe, Jean-Pierre Valentini and Mike Wainwright. The car, according to AMR teams, "is an evolution of the Gulf Team First organisation which ran in the 2010 FIA GT2 European Cup and, earlier this year, entered the Dunlop 24H Dubai race."
The car did well, but did not finish the 79th running of the 24 hours. The No. 60 car was involved in a wreck at 4 a.m., at the Porsche Curves, at the virtual midpoint of the race, after having been at or near the top of the leaderboard at the beginning of the race.
See complete details and results at Le Mans' official site.