Trying to wrap up the Istanbul ‘1000 Km’ (or more accurately
the trip itself) will involve considerable personal opinion –
so this appears in the ‘Comment’ section of the site.
on the locality, let’s begin with the comment that it’s
hard to get your head round this city being in the ‘Third
World’, when its government has spent so many tens of millions
creating a track for the F1 brigade.
As in November
2005, we three wimps from dsc (Cracknell, Lord, Potts) persuaded
David Stephens to drive the hire car again: frankly, we were too
frightened last time, and knowledge gained then ensured that we
definitely wouldn’t go near a steering wheel this time. We
weren’t alone. But nothing worries ‘Captain Black’
– and he was thrilled to have the use of a ‘Welsh sportscar’
– yup, a Renault Megane (Megan, geddit?).
Day by day,
we made a note of some of the almost unbelievable goings on, on
the roads of the capital city. In no particular order we observed:
- A schoolboy,
in school uniform, selling cigarettes at a toll booth
going the wrong way, against the flow of traffic
(is it legal in Turkey or not?) is a regular feature – often
at 30 or 40 kph greater than the typical speed of the traffic
flow - or more
- One VW Golf
driver passed us on the inside, threw his vehicle into a gap in
front, then veered further left, into the overtaking lane. It
was perfectly executed, which was a good job really, because if
he’d got it wrong, we’d have been involved in his
- On the main
access road to the track, one junction seemed to permit large
lorries to pull straight across the traffic. Were we supposed
to give way? The Captain did, fortunately
- What about
the driver who checked for a puncture – by leaning out of
the driver’s door of his car, while travelling along the
a toll booth, to cross the bridge over the Bosphorus, there was
the humbling sight of a beggar, one leg amputated below the knee,
leaning against the Armco barrier to the left of the overtaking
lane. OK, the traffic was moving very slowly, but….
- David Stephens
pitched in with a real ‘Alonso 130R move’ –
around the outside of a bus, on a tight motorway slip road…
that wasn’t on the slip road which one driver was tackling
in reverse.. if you’ve missed your exit, well, just back
- Or..... there
was the Transit van that pulled out of the access road from a
work-in-progress housing estate on the run up to the circuit,
and drove the wrong way down the hard shoulder back to the last
- And then
there were the locals who just walk across the motorway. Guido
Quirmbach reckoned he’d seen the same old man, crossing
the same four lane road, at the same time, on consecutive days
– and he was using a walking stick to assist his perambulations!
He was probably nearly 80 – but the odds weren’t on
him reaching that age…
- The fumes
would probably finish him off anyway. An annual test of each vehicle?
Seems unlikely, based on the complete piles of **** we saw on
- Beeping your
car’s horn seems to be just a game – but why the hell
do they have to start at six in the morning? The call to prayer
at 5am was a reliable wake-up call too – unless, like us,
you were so knackered you just slept though it.
No, we don’t
want to go back. No, we won’t be going back. It's a most unattractive
city - apart from some scenic views (last photograph). The clown
who suggested Istanbul for the fifth race will be covering it on
his own…. Laurence Pearce loves the place though! One car,
one journo – and LP wins.
tipped off on race morning that there was a fuel shortage –
but bearing in mind the above, that didn’t come as a great
surprise. We had a crowd shortage, we had an entry shortage (a deficit
of ten), so why not a fuel shortage?
But why not
make the announcement before the race, which would at least have
given the teams a chance to plan a revised strategy, so that all
their drivers drove?
We’d better not get into that one. It’s a nightmare
situation, trying to find an available track of a suitable standard,
this far into the year. Especially when the season has got underway
at such an unpopular track as Istanbul.
To be honest,
we did laugh a lot during nearly 96 hours in Turkey – but
it was either that or cry…… Welcome to Istanbul, there’s
the queue to buy your visa, and when you’ve done that, there’s
the queue for passport control, so that he can check that you’ve
bought your visa. Thanks very much. An hour later, we finally escaped
that dump of an airport, although the rest of it was vastly more
appealing than ‘Arrivals’.
No, we don’t
want to go back – although the race did have plenty of appeal,
at least for the first two hours. But a distant event so soon after
Paul Ricard was always going to be very tough on the teams with
the new cars – and so it proved.
Lola was the only new prototype to make it home.
There were plenty
of highlights – Michael Vergers’ performance, Shorty’s
Radical, results for the Lister and the yellow Lola, Ed Morris’s
performance, the Pilbeam, the new Ferraris, the Panoz podium –
and we’ll look at one or two of those in more detail soon.
The track itself is a very good one, the warmth shown by the staff
there was much appreciated, but alas, the track is in the wrong
place – it’s even in the wrong place in relation to
the (western) airport. And the locals have consistently displayed
a level of interest in proportion to the promotion of the event.
But Spa next
month, with its (probably) Istanbul-like weather, will be more like
the real world than was half a week in Istanbul. In one back street
we actually saw a building gutted by fire – which looked as
though it could fall into the street at any time. Life – animals,
people, anything – doesn’t seem to be valued in quite
the same way as it does in the west, and to be frank, it was a real
A Burger King
burger at Istanbul airport on Monday has never tasted so good, and
stepping onto the BA Airbus was an immense relief. No, we’re
not going back, if a third visit is on the Le Mans Series agenda.
It’s all very well laughing at the antics on the roads, but
it was too dangerous for we mere mortals.
happening in New York today?