As Phil and myself give ourselves the last week of the year off to try and regain some sense of normality in our lives – and try to remind our better halves of what we look like in daylight hours – we thought you might enjoy a rundown of what’s been a mega 12 months for us here at crankandpiston.
There’s a few changes ahead for 2011, but we’ll reveal more about that in January, so let’s rewind the clock and take a look back at some of the things that have made 2010 a pretty awesome year.
The year kicked off with a bang with the monstrous Dubai 24hr Endurance marathon taking over the Autodrome for the best part of a week.
Though the residents of Motorcity might like to complain about the incessant noise – surely the motor in Motorcity kinda gives you an idea of where you’re living – it’s undoubtedly the best racing in the Middle East.
With eighty or so cars ranging from Renault Clios to Porsche Cup cars running around the length of the full GP circuit, the Autodrome comes seriously alive for this week. The Moutran brothers did a sterling job in their first ever outing, finding themselves on the podium after a very hard 24hours of racing.
The 2011 edition of the Dubai 24hrs takes place during the weekend of Jan 14th/15th/16th – naturally, we will be there to bring you all the action right here on C&P.
Before I made the jump over to C&P in September, I was the Editor of CAR Middle East magazine. Naturally, this job involved driving some pretty tasty metal – and 2010 was a bit of a boom year on that front.
It all started with this slightly unhinged Zenvo ST1 – all 1104bhp if it. Though I drove the Zenvo out on a very empty stretch of desert road near Sharjah, it was still a blooming handful. Thankfully, I didn’t bend the one-off prototype – that job was left to one of the Zenvo team a few months later during an on-track demonstration run in Europe.
Aussie V8s at Yas
A grid full of Holdens and Fords lined up at Yas Marina in February for the first outing of the Aussie V8s in Abu Dhabi.
It was the first true event to be held on the circuit after the Formula One circus came to town in November.
There was some proper close racing throughout the field and some great action from the local boys in the support racing.
It all happens again in February 2011 with Aussie V8s sharing the billing with GP2 Asia and the UAE GTs.
Ford F150 Raptor
We have a bit of a soft spot for pickups at C&P, therefore when the big blue oval dropped the details of the F150 Raptor, our ears were definitely peaked.
We’ve been trying to get our hands on one for a very long time as we have a big itch for some desert jumping that needs to be scratched.
If anyone can help us out on that front, please get in touch! Please…
Top Fuellers at Yas
Though Mr Phil is an old hand at the fine art of drag racing, this particular field of motorsport had always passed me by.
However, this all changed back in March when I took the very last minute decision to drive up to Yas for the first Drag Racing festival on the fresh quarter mile track. Needless to say, I’m now hooked – nothing can prepare you for the sheer speed at which a Top Fueller can blast down the 1320ft.
Big props to Hot Rod Fuller down at Yas who also gave me some pointers on drag racing when I took a Shelby Mustang and a Dodge Challenger down to the strip for a CAR ME feature. Needless to say, he absolutely rinsed me!
If you’ve got 7500Dhs burning a hole in your pocket, then I’d highly recommend popping down to Yas and buying yourself a seat in their two-seat F1 car.
Its yet another mind-bending experience that I was lucky enough to bag myself. Like I said, 2010 has been a bit of a mega year.
FIA GT1 World Championship
For its first year on the racing calendar, the GT1 Championship has had a bit of a mental time of it.
With some teams struggling to field enough cars, races changing locations at the eleventh hour and some controversial rule enforcements, it’s been a bit trying for all those involved.
However, away from all the off-track goings on, there’s been some super frantic racing going on in the field. Four Nissan GT-Rs, Lambo Murcielagos, Corvettes, Ford GTS, Aston DB9s and Maserati MC12 bashing bumpers throughout quali, pre-race and the races themselves has shown there’s much more to motorsport than just F1.
Standing on the inside of Turn 1 at the Nurburgring as the field charged their way past in challenging wet conditions with nothing between me and the frenzy of horsepower felt like the world was coming to an end.
Let’s hope the teams can retain the momentum for 2011 as GT1 returns to Yas in March.
UAE National Racing
The local racing championships have taken a massive step forward in the past year.
We’ve had the big boys showing their muscle in the UAE GTs alongside a strong showing of SEAT and Honda power in Touring Cars.
Not forgetting the arrival of the Suzuki Swift Cup that caused some fun and games in Touring Cars in 2009/2010 before they were granted their own series this year.
It’s a shame that the UAE Sportscar Championship has failed to return to the heady days of the GulfSport Radical Cup.
There are so many cars sitting under covers in the region that haven’t seen the light of a racetrack for far too long.
With barely more than a handful of spectators and limited wider appeal outside of the specialist media, some are questioning whether there are still legs in the local motorsport scene. From ourside, so long as there is a core bunch of hardcore Motorsport people there will always be a scene. And, it is something close to our hearts, but the specialist media out guns the mainstream media in the Middle East, so people need to stop worrying about the lack of papers being interested and start using the Media that has been there from the birth.
We will remain on the frontline to bring the ups and downs of as many championships as we can to our ardent following.
Christophe Hissette and Pascal Grosjean
Sadly, 2010 wasn’t all high points as we said goodbye to two of the region’s hottest motorsport talents.
Christophe Hissette and Pascal Grosjean were two supremely skilled gentlemen who not only were amongst the best in the field on the track, but were quality blokes off the track.
They both are sadly missed.
Back in April we found out just how much reach this little ol’ website has in the wider world as a story about a certain XJ220 flew its way around the world causing plenty of a kafuffle in its wake…
Barry Hope and all the boys down at Gulf Sport are hoping they can secure the necessary deal to get FG1000 off the ground in 2011.
The formula for a grassroots single-seater championship with the eventual goal of getting a young buck from the region on the long ladder to F1 is good, all it needs now is someone with the right foresight to give it the leg up it needs.
Mercedes SLS AMG
One of our cars of the year without a shadow of a doubt. The first car to be built from the ground up by the unhinged guys at AMG, the SLS is an absolute animal of a machine.
Sure, the retro-pastiche styling is a little grating, and those doors are a bit show offish, but the net result of all of this – plus the most powerful naturally aspirated engine around – make this into one serious drivers car.
It flatters even the most ham-fisted of drivers, and rewards those who really know what they’re doing.
Range Rover Evoque
Very few cars pique the interest of my better half – however, there is one car that she is extremely adamant that we must have when it hits the region next year – the Range Rover Evoque. The luxury arm of Land Rover has really hit the nail on the head with the smallest offering from the brand.
The car got its first airing in the region at the Abu Dhabi Motor Show – as a five-door in red, Kuwait saw the stand-out 3dr white version – and proved to be quite a hit. We’re going to be keeping a sharp eye on this car over the coming months.