Walking The Circuit with Nigel
First impressions of the Bahrain International Circuit are awe inspiring. This is a truly world class facility and, of course, a track which few racing drivers have yet seen, let alone raced on.

As soon as they arrived, it seemed that the entire gathering of drivers wanted to see the course at first hand, but with no pit bikes around and other motor vehicles banned from the circuit in the morning, there was little option but to walk the 5.14 km circuit.

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Nigel Greensall was only too eager to take the stroll, and was soon examining the braking zone, camber and tyre tracks at turn one to identify the most effective line.

“You’re braking hard after the pit straight into a sharp right hander and then you’re straight into a left hander. I think the line we can see from the tyre marks is probably not the best for a big GT car: they look like they come from small saloons, whereas we’re carrying more weight and speed. I think we need a wider arc to preserve a bit more speed through the apex, which should give me better options for the left hander."

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As we walked further and further around the lap, the Greensall grin grew wider. “I think I’m in the right car,“ he said, long straights with gradient would favour a light and powerful car (the 6.7 litre V8 powered Stealth looks like fitting the bill).

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The next straight, after the right handed Turn 3, is steeply graded uphill into a tight right hander, with adverse camber on the exit. “This is a tricky one on gear selection, there might be a passing opportunity under braking into the turn, but the line through the corner is critical if you want to get the power down early for the downhill stretch.”

The circuit then tumbles down through a fast left-right combination, before a tight right hander and another short straight.

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Again the exit here is tricky, the surface is good but you need good traction to get the run down to the next turn. This section runs alongside one of the circuit’s most extraordinary features, a fully equipped drag strip, home to the Middle Eastern Drag Racing club - with David Lord finding his shoes sticking to the track surface.

A tight and tricky uphill left hander is next, Greensall feeling that grabbing fourth would be the chosen option, rather than hanging onto a lower gear, as he powers through the next sweeping right hander, again in the quest to keep wheelspin to a minimum.

A tight right hander is next, the circuit then plummeting downhill once again over a crest, and then a tricky camber change just into the braking zone for the most surprising corner of the lot.

From the pitlane the final turn looks like an awesome banked slingshot run into the start finish straight, but the reality is less dramatic - a tight right hander into an open right, the banked section is actually the high friction tarmac run-off area. There will still be serious speeds past the pits but not the high entry speeds to the straight that many had predicted.

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Tomorrow the speculation stops and GT running begins. Subject to final scrutineering, 48 cars will be having their first experience of the Bahrain International Circuit – and Nigel Greensall will find out whether his carefully (mentally) marked braking points and gear selections were right first time.

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