Bahrain GT Festival – Preview
48 On Site
There should be 48 cars present when track action gets underway
on Thursday of this week, November 25, for the one-off GT Festival
at the new GP track. 70 had been suggested, over 50 seemed likely,
but unfortunately five of the ‘big’ cars – the
GT1s – haven’t been able to leave China in time.
It’s still a very
interesting entry, featuring a number of cars – and a significant
number of drivers – that even dsc (covering almost every series
out there) isn’t too familiar with. But with Goodwin and Lord
present at the track from Tuesday morning, we’ll bring you
the news and photographs from the track just as fast as we can.
dsc pair left on Monday morning, on a Gulf Air Airbus from Heathrow,
and together with a similarly timed British Airways flight, a good
number of drivers and crew were travelling ‘together’.
A large contingent of
the entry list comes from France though, so flights from Paris must
have been fairly full.
The format comprises
three 35 minute races (one on Thursday, two on Friday), then a 60
minute ‘Final’. Each car must have two drivers, and
each driver must take the start of two races (out of the four).
The final will include a driver change, between the 23rd and 37th
minutes. Presumably the grid for the final will somehow be based
on performances in the ‘heats’. Friday is going to be
a very busy GT raceday, with starts at 08.30, 11.40 and 15.20. Fingers
crossed all round for no serious mechanical gremlins.
GT3s are by far the
most numerous cars present – exactly half of the 48 are what
we used to call Cup cars, and although Porsches are as common as
in almost any GT field anywhere, there is also a Vertigo, four Ferraris
(all entered by Damax), a Panoz Esperante, Lamborghinis, a Viper
(a Dutch competition coupe, as seen at the Spa 24 Hours), a Marcos
and a Morgan from the British GT Championship – and the Bintec
Prosport from the same series.
names behind the wheels include Bas Leinders, Fabien Giroix, Jack
Leconte (Larbre surely won't be bringing along their lucky 'mascot',
will they? No, surely she didn't, did she? She did? Blimey - that
can't be allowed in the Middle East...), Christophe Bouchut, Keith
Ahlers, Aaron Scott, Chris Beighton, Jon Finnemore and Stuart Scott.
Bouchut in a Lamborghini should be very entertaining, but we’re
not sure what talent lurks within Prince Albert von Thurn und Taxis
(AT&T for short).
There are nine
come from DDO (Saleen), Force One (Viper) and Larbre (Viper), the
Coopers Racing, former Rafanelli, Ferrari 550 is from Australia
(below - with David Brabham and Allan Simonsen driving, this has
to be the strongest pairing in the field, even if more stars arrive),
Wieth Racing is from Germany (Haupt and Kaufmann), and the balance
are from Britain.
A Harrier and
two 935s indicate that entries can be what Americans would call
‘Historics’, while the Speedworx Stealth has never raced
in Europe – so far. Dominique Dupuy, Nigel James, Ian Flux,
Tony Dron, Richard Chamberlain, Nigel Greensall – there are
well known names from the past and the present (in some cases both!).
The remaining 15 cars
are GT2s – not GT2s of old (as in Vipers), but GT2s as in
911 GT3-R variants, plus Ferrari 360s from JMB, another Harrier,
a Rollcentre Mosler, two Diablos, a French GT Toyota Supra Bi-turbo
and a BMW M3 GTR. Has this collection (of 48) got something of a
BPR feel about it?
Martin Short and Shaun Balfe are the most well known drivers in
the class, but perhaps an Ortelli will turn up and show someone’s
intention to hire a really quick man.
is an FIA GT regular with JMB (he’s in a 360 here, not a 575),
while Marco Saviozzi might become one (a GT regular) in an Aston
Martin, eventually (he’s racing a Porsche here).
an end of season jamboree in the sun – and should be great
fun. The streets of the capital, Manama, will see a cavalcade of
GT cars on Wednesday: in 2005, the Bahrainis should be much clearer
about this form of racing, when the FIA GTs arrive. There are 13
races altogether over the two days: Bathurst it isn't: that's the
media centre at the foot of the page.