Through the dark brightly - first day is a great success

The first full day of the Bahrain GT Festival was a roaring success as the spectators were treated to the spectacle of nine separate events, racing and qualifying, from all the exciting cars participating at the Bahrain International Circuit.

Multi-coloured race-prepared Mini Coopers took to the track first at 8:30 this morning, followed by the Historic GTs' first practice. These beautiful cars, amongst them Ferrari Dinos, E-type Jaguars, and Morgans looked the part as they raced round the full Formula One circuit at speeds averaging 131kms an hour.

They were followed by the International GT cars, streaming round for the first qualifying practice, all 77 cars looking stunning in the sunshine which has finally shown its face.

Martin Whitaker, the Circuit's general manager said: "This was a day for everyone as we ran an unprecedented nine events at the international circuit. There was much close racing and even though we ran a little over time, the GT cars looked stunning in the dark, with the headlights and the red brake lights cutting through the blackness it reminded me of Le Mans, the legendary 24- hour race."

The last qualifying race of the day, for the International GT series, was stopped because of the dark, but after nine laps Allan Simonsen in the Ferrari 550 Maranello was 16 seconds ahead of his nearest rival Federic Makowiecki and his Chrysler Viper GTS. Simonsen was lapping at just over two minutes and hitting a top speed of 160 kilometres per hour. Third was Francois Fiat in a Saleen S7.

The combined qualifying for this series has Cooper Racing's Maranello 550 in first place followed by the Saleen S7 of the DDO team - third place belongs to Labre Competition 1 and their Chrysler Viper GTS.

In the other events, the fastest in the local race series for MeCARs was that driven by Salman Bin Rashed whose best time was 1:45.261 at a speed of 129.621 kilometres per hour.

Fahad Al Musalam was fastest of all in his Mini Cooper, followed by Khalid Al Thahranee and in third place Ebrahim Busmait. Finally in the Historic GT it was Hans Huegenholtz's Ford GT 40 1965 which was fastest in the first race, followed by Christian Taber and his Jaguar Type E 1962, ahead of Jeremy Agace in his Ferrari 250SWB 1960.