GT Academy 2015 European Race Camp - Day 6
Race Camp de-camped to a very special new location today – the legendary Rub'al Khali, the largest uninterrupted sand desert in the world. GT Academy Race Camp is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the competitors, but the move to Abu Dhabi’s ‘Empty Quarter’ to sleep in tents in the desert makes this edition even more special for the 21 remaining competitors.
The peace of this evening’s desert camp was in stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of the morning at Race Camp, where the seven territory groups battled each other in a 90-minute endurance race in the searing Abu Dhabi heat. Taking place at the Yas Marina Circuit’s kart centre, the challenge was a chance for the GT Academy mentors and instructors to get a good look at the final 21 in a race situation.
“The kart race tells us a lot about raw speed, race craft, fitness and concentration,” explained chief instructor Rob Jenkinson, who will work closely with the 2015 GT Academy winner throughout the Driver Development Programme. “Two of the three Benelux guys were superb and Benelux absolutely aced the race. But it was very good to have a good look at all the competitors. It showed the strength of some, but highlighted the weaknesses of others.”
Following Benelux home were Germany, Iberia, Italy, France, CEE and the UK in that order. The result will not count towards the next elimination, but the performances of their competitors will have been noted by the mentors and play a part in their decision processes.
The transfer from Yas Island to the Qasr Al Sarab desert resort, also meant a change from the humid heat of the coast to dry, 42°C desert heat. The move also gave the competitors a chance for another first, camel riding! A camp fire and a night under the stars in the desert is the preface to a spectacular desert challenge tomorrow.
JP Kraemer (German mentor): “My guys did pretty well in the kart race today. They are very professional and positive. I’m really amazed by today. It’s so impressive here. Nowhere in the world compares to this. The smell, the heat, the views – it’s amazing. What an opportunity for these guys, not only to be here, but to be fighting for their dream."
Ben Bishop (UK competitor): “Race Camp has been quite a challenge in every sense. Not knowing what’s coming next makes it really hard to prepare mentally, so that’s a hurdle we all have to overcome. I think I have been doing well all week, but I did struggle a bit in the karting today. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s race in the desert. It’s amazing to be here and quite an experience to be camping out.”
Fábio Romalhinho (Portuguese competitor): “It’s awesome coming out here to the desert - unbelievable to see the dunes and everything. Race Camp is going well…well, I’m still here! We’ll see what happens tomorrow, another new car and type of racing and another new experience.”