Bahrain GT Festival – Wednesday – Convoy!
Bulk of the images in a gallery here
Still no track time for the GT cars but instead something very special
– a cavalcade of cars on public roads, under a rolling roadblock,
from the circuit to the Seef Shopping Mall in central Manama.
This was no five minute
parade though: the Mall is some 30 kilometres distant from the circuit
and progress on a windy and overcast day was to be – brisk!
20 or so of the cars,
both contemporary and historic, set off with a series of chase vehicles
in hot pursuit.
Front and centre was
the Toyota Previa of Greenlight Television, providing live TV for
local audiences. At the wheel was a very familiar face – John
Hindhaugh, enjoying himself thoroughly and setting off in hot pursuit
with a devilish grin and a dsc deputy editor gripping the grab handle
The police escort was
ruthlessly efficient and the Bahrain motoring populace was either
(pardon our French) ‘jumped from behind’ or left ‘necks
craning’ as the convoy blasted past in the opposite direction.
More than once a cloud of smoke and a screech of brakes heralded
the news that a local driver had left his eyes off the road for
a little too long, roundabouts looming large!
The trip to Seef Mall,
the journey being made rather more rapidly than the dsc hire car
had previously managed, was without incident until…. the last
50 metres, when the Nick Adcock pedalled Eurotech Porsche suddenly
overheated. We’ll know tomorrow whether any lasting damage
For the time being though,
we were treated to the sight of the assembled cars being drooled
over by the local populace – with an autograph signing session,
pitstop demonstration and an opportunity to buy tickets for the
race at bargain basement prices, all in a car park surrounded by
Marks and Spencers and British Home Stores – Arndale Centre
eat your heart out. Inside the Mall there was further evidence of
the promotional effort going into this event, a stand (again prominently
featuring the Colin (Bernard) Blower Motorsport Vauxhall VX220 –
complete with dailysportscar.com branding) selling tickets and giving
away GT Festival freebies.
3.30 and it was time
to tour the city centre itself – on open roads mind you, and
with a couple of dozen very quick and very loud GT cars.
This time the Hindhaugh
/ dsc Previa was to the fore, Greenlight’s cameraman and David
Lord shooting from the open tailgate, with GT cars often inches
from the rear bumper. Speeds were once again quite impressive, the
Toyota’s ‘nanny’ speed warning buzzer sounding
constantly and the unsilenced Ferraris, Porsches and Morgan sounding
more like a strafing run from the Bahrain Air Force than a parade.
Using only the
international language of hand signals, the cars were neatly marshalled
for the cameras - as the motorcycle outriders did their best to
outrun the cars and block intersections to allow the train by.
Hindhaugh was by now
enjoying himself far too much – the Previa screaming along,
jinking in and out of the stream of cars to give new angles, the
sounds of cars accelerating hard past the camera car eliciting peals
of laughter from Hindhaugh and Goodwin.
The Damax and
JMB Ferraris were initially ahead (above), before the Gillet took
its turn, followed by the astonishingly loud Morgan Aero 8, mechanic
Billy enjoying the experience of opening the taps on the BMW V8
time and again – his passenger, Fiona Pawley from SRO, was
enjoying the trip too. “She told me she was from Lewisham
so nothing I could do was ever going to scare her,” said her
gallant pilot later.
The Porsche 911 GT3 Cup
car of Paul Mace was next to take its turn at the front of the queue:
this car may well be dipping a toe in the water ahead of a British
GT campaign in 2005. For now though it was impressing even the local
pizza delivery guy, who may well need a quiet sit down with a garlic
bread to recover from the experience of a full race prepped Porsche
buzzing by his right ear!
The big guns were next
up, the Viper Competition Coupe of Dutch Outfit US Carworld howling
by, its V10 thundering along, with the Panoz Esperante of Bert Moritz
in close company.
“I genuinely can’t
believe we’re allowed to do this,” said Hindhaugh, as
he experienced a close encounter of the slow moving JCB kind, threading
the needle between a Ferrari 360 and a dawdling Toyota. “It
beats the **** out of my usual Wednesday,” grinned Lordy.
With the light rapidly
fading, the convoy exploded back towards the circuit, pace ever
quickening: 160 km/h was seen more than once and still the leading
GT cars were pulling away.
Back at the circuit and
there was time to thank both the event organisers and the Bahrain
Traffic Police for their efforts – Hindhaugh not at all sure
that they hadn’t been racking up infractions for later reckoning
A very special
day indeed. We had a convoy all right, but Rubber Duck and friends
would have been left gasping in its dust.