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.

dailysportscar.comThe 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.

dailysportscar.comNotable 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 GT1s:

French entries 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!).

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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?

Patrick Long, 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.

Peter Kutemann 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).

It’s 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.

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