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