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Diriyah Targeting First Formula E Night Race in 2020

Diriyah E-Prix organizers are looking into hosting the first-ever Formula E night race in 2020…

Photo: Formula E

The organizers and promoters of the Diriyah E-Prix are looking at hosting the first-ever Formula E night race there in 2020.

Plans are being drawn up to get as many sustainable lighting systems as possible at the Riyadh circuit for it to pass strict FIA guidelines and homologation criteria to be included in next season’s calendar.

Intentions for a night race at Diriyah were revealed by e-racing365 earlier this year but were then put on the back burner due to the complex infrastructure needed to ensure the lighting of the track is sustainable.

Carlo Boutgay, whose CBX company promotes the Diriyah E-Prix, has told e-racing365 that a plan is in motion to try and achieve racing under lights.

While not confirming that a night race would go ahead in 2020, Boutagy did admit that it is a clear objective for Saudi Arabia to hold its third E-Prix event.

“We’ve found now an easy way to do it at 60-70 percent but we want to make it fully sustainable so that’s why it takes a bit of time,” said Boutagy.

“With us, you have to take into consideration that it’s a temporary track that gets built only two weeks before the race, and then five days [later] you come in here and it’s just the streets, normal streets.

“So if we do something in the night, it would need to make sure it’s one, temporary, and two, sustainable. So it’s a lot different than the Bahrain and Abu Dhabi tracks.”

The desire and need for Diriyah to host a night race stems from an attempt to bolster crowds for the Formula E round, which is paired together with a large music concert.

Last weekend’s E-Prix saw poor crowds attended the actual races. The autograph sessions were canceled on Friday lunchtime due to a lack of spectators at the site at that time of day.

Tickets were sold for the race on the basis of having access to the concerts which featured internationally recognized dance acts.

“We realized that as well, and the [time] gap in-between the two is pretty big,” said Boutagy.

“It’s a four-hour gap from the end of the race to the concerts, and on Friday we had that issue yes.

“Friday is like our Sunday for Europeans, it’s a family day, they have lunch, they go to pray, so they don’t really leave the house before 3 or 4 p.m.

“We had about 37,000 people [on Friday], but the majority came after 6 p.m.

“For next year, we already have a plan, we’ve already discussed it, and basically we want to solve it.”

Sam Smith is e-racing365's Formula E Editor. A 20-year veteran in motorsports media, including press officer roles in both the FIA Sportscar Championship and at Lola Group, Smith is a well-known face in the Formula E paddock, where he served as series editor for from 2014-17. Contact Sam



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    November 25, 2019 at 5:30 am

    It would really go against everything EF is.

    • Avatar

      Edward Hunter

      November 25, 2019 at 8:38 am

      It’s a bit bloody late for that, don’t you think?

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