Bahrain GP to become a night race in 2014

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The Bahrain Grand Prix is poised to become the second night race in Formula One next season after the construction of floodlights and their testing at the final round of the World Endurance Championship in the kingdom this weekend.

Bahrain’s suitability to host a grand prix has come into question over the past few years due to civil unrest in the wake of the Arab Spring. The protests proved to be so volatile that the race was cancelled in 2011, but since it has managed to go ahead without too many problems. Nevertheless, with attendance figures dwindling, the organizers have opted to make the grand prix a night race in 2014 to mark the tenth anniversary of the first event in Bahrain.

“This is by far the biggest development project we have ever undertaken at the BIC [Bahrain International Circuit] since the circuit was first built,” chief executive Salman bin Isa al-Khalifa explained. “I believe that there can be no better way for us to mark our tenth anniversary in F1 by demonstrating our long term commitment to the sport through this significant investment.”

With this move, the Bahrain Grand Prix becomes the second night race on the calendar, following in the footsteps of the Singapore Grand Prix. However, the location for the latter makes the night race such a draw, and with the circuit in Bahrain failing to impress many drivers or fans, this may be a last roll of the dice for the organizers to see if F1 can make a splash in the Gulf kingdom.

The lighting will first be used during this weekend’s World Endurance Championship finale at Sakhir which is set to end at 9pm local time. Although this could revitalise Formula One in Bahrain, the organizers have an incredibly tough act to follow from Singapore’s unmitigated success since joining the calendar in 2008.

Ricciardo set to see Dale Jr.’s final Texas ride in two weeks (VIDEO)

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We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.

And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.

After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.

In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.

Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.

“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”

Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.

“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”

Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.