Not quite Monaco but a high-octane treat for enthusiasts

Mon, Jun 4, 2012, 01:00

IT WAS bad luck for the organisers of the first Bavaria Car Racing event yesterday that the day resembled one borrowed from mid-winter.

The hardy spectators who turned out on the streets of Dublin were buffeted by wind and rain while the cars threw up great rivers of spray.

The race, only the third to be held on the streets of a major city, was meant to showcase Dublin and Ireland as an aspirational and glamorous location, but it was held about a week too late for the good weather.

The event was broadcast to 80 countries, but Dublin on a dank and wet Sunday is not quite the streets of Monaco.

Tens of thousands attended the event.

The event, which took up an area of the city centre from the North Quays to College Green, was free for the most part, but those in the paddock areas paid an eyewatering €165 for tickets to the grandstand and for a fleeting glimpse of the star attraction, the Formula One cars brought over for the event.

Even then, the paying patrons were perished by the wind and rain whipping up from the River Liffey.

Those fortunate enough to be invited to the corporate events availed of a hot lunch and free booze in some of the temporary pavilions.

Along with the Formula One cars, there were various stunt riders, racing cars of all descriptions and a display of car porn with vehicles such as a Spyker C8, a Lamborghini Aventador and a Ferrari F30 parked appropriately opposite the edifice of another monument to ostentation – the unfinished site of Anglo Irish Bank.

The star turn was former Formula One world champion Jensen Button.

By contrast to the image of Formula One drivers as incorrigible playboys hooked on champagne and supermodels, Button warmed up for the event by doing a triathlon in Athy on Saturday, much to the surprise and delight both of competitors and onlookers.

Yesterday fans clamoured around his silver McLaren MP4 sports car and when he revved the engine to leave, it was like the parting of the Red Sea.

Button did a couple of spins in his distinctive red Vodafone McLaren car.

He barely got out of second or third gear, but the car nevertheless made an awful din like having a hot needle stuck in your eardrums, and he certainly broke the 30kph speed limit.

Button smiled and gave a thumps-up to the crowd at various stages of the circuit.

“It was a lot more fun,” he said, than the serious business of Formula One.

Driving on a street was different from driving on the road because “your bum is so close” to the road, he said, and he could feel every bump.

When asked if he managed to squeeze in any “fun” during his time in Ireland, he said Formula One was “fun”.

“Who gets to drive a F1 car? Not many people,” he said.

“Triathlons are what I do as a hobby. I’m enjoying this weekend.”