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at in a mini bus crossing Buenos Aires, the two French, two German and one Dutch journalist had the same thought as me – what the hell were we doing in Argentina? The average family


car was held together by rust, fortified by a prayer, and in the case of our minibus, a sticker which laid claim to the Malvinas. The Health and Safety Executive was clearly an alien concept to the population and yet here we were, travelling for 34 hours from London to San Luis for the final round of the FIA GT1 World Championship. On the bill were Lamborghinis, Ford GTs, Nissan GTRs,


Chevrolet Corvettes and Aston Martin DBR9s. It would have been less extreme had we arrived with an exhibit from Area 51. We had to travel to Buenos Aires, cross the city in a minibus to the national airport, fly to Mendoza and then drive around 200km back towards Buenos Aires to get to the track. San Luis has an airport, but the flights are, apparently, prone to being cancelled at short notice if there is a lack of interest. The door handle of the


bathroom fell off whenever you tried to use it, the storms that passed through during the night rattled the aluminium doors that didn’t fit and the air con would have woken the dead. The pit lane was a collection of tents, the petrol stations had no petrol and the hire car companies had a fleet that looked as though it had been bought from the local university. From the students. We all fell in love with the place immediately. Despite it being a new track, it had an old-world charm to it. The magnificent circuit replaced the old road around the lake, and so is open to the public for most of the year, and they drove it like heroes. When the GT1 cars had parked up at the end of the day’s racing, the buses and lorries were stopped at either end of the pit straight and a Nissan and Aston Martin performed doughnuts in front of the pits. As fans dangled off the fences to watch the spectacle, a local lad on a motorbike decided to join in the fun, and performed a burnout in the pit lane. The spectators loved the show, could get close to the cars and the drivers, and the TC2000 Touring Car series was a showstopper. This is one of the top Touring Car


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• Racecar Engineering, incorporating Cars & Car Conversions and Rallysport, is published 12 times per annum and is available on subscription. Although due care has been taken to ensure that the content of this publication is accurate and up-to-date, the publisher can accept no liability for errors and omissions. Unless otherwise stated, this publication has not tested products or services that are described herein, and their inclusion does not imply any form of endorsement. By accepting advertisements in this publication, the publisher does not warrant their accuracy, nor accept responsibility for their contents. The publisher welcomes unsolicited manuscripts and illustrations but can accept no liability for their safe return. © 2011 Chelsea Magazine Company. All rights reserved.


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98 www.racecar-engineering.com • January 2012 August 2008


series in the world and, like the BTCC, offers its fans a family day out, an opportunity to get close to the cars, add a touch of glamour to their lives and watch some close racing. The difference is the drivers contesting the Argentinian series are paid more than their counterparts in factory Sportscar racing in Europe and the US and next year they are going to 2.7 litre V8 engines. The TC2000 staff were delighted; next year’s car will sound like that Nissan, they hoped. Here, it was easy to follow Stephane Ratel’s view that the European circuits are falling out of love with motor racing. In Argentina, as in Russia, China, and other emerging


“the spectators don’t cars whether these are GT1, GTE, GT2, GT3 or GT4 cars…”


markets, the government buys the show, and Ratel provides it. The European commentators turn up their noses at Ratel’s slide from GT1 to GT3 cars in his World Championship, but the spectators don’t care whether these are GT1, GTE, GT2, GT3 or GT4 cars. The cars that contest the World Championship are those that feature on their childrens’ wall in poster form, and that is all that matters. For the World Endurance Championship (WEC), which announced its calendar a


week later, the goals are clearly defined. The ACO has dropped the Petit Le Mans in 2012 in favour of a race in Bahrain. They tried to drop the event for 2011, but were rail-roaded by Audi (with support from the media, and from Peugeot). Now we have races in Brazil, Japan, Bahrain and China. These are important markets for the car manufacturers who are contesting the WEC. The Brazilian, Japanese and Chinese races should attract the good crowds and bring the atmosphere of a big event. I lament the loss of the Atlanta race from the WEC


calendar, particularly after all the hard work Don Panoz and Scott Atherton put into building it into a must-do race, and hope it will continue to be well supported as a round of the ALMS. I hope, though doubt, that Bahrain proves to be a suitable alternative.


EDITOR Andrew Cotton


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