Genuine Parts for Ultimate Driving Pleasure

What Happened at the First A2RL Event?

News & Info

After a week of build-up, and plenty of lapping, the first-ever A2RL teams got to the event they’d been waiting for: the first-ever race in an all-new extreme motorsport.

In the lead-up to the race, teams had been hot-lapping the circuit as quickly as possible, getting their driverless machines ready for the heat of competition. Keeping an eye on the track, seeing (and hearing) driver-free cars haring along Yas Marina’s main straight wasn’t rare, as each team honed their code ready for the main event.

On the big day, the circuit was a hive of activity. A Fanzone decked out with gaming, VR, and race-related displays greeted the thousands of fans who arrived for the event. As the build-up to the race hotted up, the stands on the start/finish straight were packed with excited racegoers–men, women, children, no matter who you were, A2RL welcomed you.

As the sun was setting, former F1 driver Daniil Kvyat kept crowds entertained by doing laps in a human-driven take on the A2RL’s Dallara-chassised Super Formula car, and then showing off just what Dallara’s own supercar, the Stradale, could do on track. Both looked and sounded rather wonderful.

Kvyat wasn’t there simply to enjoy a giant track day, but to take part in the first of the evening’s events: Man v Machine. Here, he’d take on A2RL’s home team, TII, to show the difference between a human, and a machine–driven car. TII’s car is the most advanced autonomous racer out there, having been developed from the series’ genesis by founders ASPIRE Group. While it put up a good show, Kvyat demonstrated that, for the moment at least, man still has the upper hand over machines. For now at least. Speaking after the event, Kvyat commented: “It’s a great engineering breakthrough. To see these cars driving around at a respectable pace is impressive. To share the track together, even though we just tried to coexist together carefully, knowing there’ll be no unnecessary risk is very important. Competition, in the end, is what moves progress forward.”

From there, it was time to race. Of the eight teams just four–Italian teams PoliMOVE and Unimore, and Germany’s TUM and Constructor (who also represents Switzerland)–qualified for the final. The world’s stage was watching, and listening to see who’d be the first to make history.

The cars had been putting in times around two minutes ahead of the race. Though a human can make it around a touch quicker in the same car, the qualifiers proved that a car can drive autonomously around Yas Marina. When it came to the race, for the first half the four teams were playing nicely with each other – the aim of A2RL is to have driverless cars behave like human-driven ones: overtakes, thrills, and spills are the name of the game–and PoliMOVE was looking to take the chequered flag. Until disaster struck on lap five of the eight-lap final. The luminous green Italian car ground to a halt, then turned towards the wall–thankfully it didn’t drive into it.

PoliMOVE’s lack of movement stopped the race, and all cars returned to the pits for a restart to cover the remaining three laps. The PoliMOVE car didn’t rejoin the field. In its absence, fellow Italians Unimore were in the lead… until their car suffered a similar fate to PoliMOVE and stopped stone dead. The race wasn’t halted this time, and German team TUM stormed to victory, a share of the $2.25-million prize pot, and a place in the history books as the first-ever winner of A2RL. Fellow countrymen Constructor took the second step, while Unimore snatched third.

The race didn’t go, perhaps, to plan, but for a stretch of time, there were four cars driving around Yas Marina without drivers at the helm. As starts go, it was a solid foundation to build on, the lead-up to 2025’s event starts now.

Product Enquiry