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Speed treat

Mike King

Speed treat

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It was speed, manoeuvres, drag racing and daredevil feats like never before, as international drivers led by the peerless Lewis Hamilton put on a memorable motorsport treat at the new Bushy Park facility yesterday.
The much heralded Top Gear Festival lived up to its billing with the myriad of super cars, some of them with more than 600 horsepower, exciting an audience that included Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy, McLaren Formula 1 driver Kevin Magnasson and Caribbean champion Doug “Hollywood” Gore from Jamaica.
Hamilton, the star attraction, made four appearances, the first at noon, and drove better and faster each time, saving the best for last with some breathtaking manoeuvres in tandem with charismatic American professional rally driver Ken Block.
Block, behind the wheel of a Ford Fiesta ST, was electric, dragging and twisting around the tight bends.
Hamilton, this season’s Formula 1 race leader, drove the Mercedes AMG Petronas he used in the 2013 season at frightening and deafening speeds to the delight of the thousands on the grounds.
When the dust from the burning track had settled, Hamilton, the son of a Grenadian father, waved to his adoring fans and said he was pleased to represent Barbados and the Caribbean.
He told them he would have liked to have more grip from the track but hailed the Bushy Park facility as “fantastic” and was happy to be here.
The 29-year-old Hamilton showed how adept he is behind the wheel when he took part in a Barbados versus England motor football game where cars knocked a giant football into goalbars.
Block told the SUNDAY?SUN that driving on the track with Hamilton is the highlight of his career.
“The highlight for me has been getting on the track with Lewis Hamilton. To see his Formula 1 car in my rear view mirror was pretty amazing. Don’t know if it will ever happen again and it is something that I never dreamt would have happened,” Block said.
Block said that the track was a little dusty.
“I expected more grip, but overall, it is a good track,” he added.
Yesterday was about more than just Hamilton. The final stages of the Global Rallycross (GRC) featured some spectacular aerial jumps with Nelson Piquet Jr, the son of the Brazilian three-time Formula 1 champion, the man of the moment.
Piquet, in a Ford Fiesta ST, along with Tanner Foust and Scott Speed, both of them driving Volkswagen Polo Rs, were the most dazzling on show.
The GRC field attracted the day’s sole female driver Emma Gilmour of New Zealand, with the 34-year-old showing her worth behind the wheel of a Hyundai Veloster Turbo.
“This was my first time driving this car and my first time doing Rallycross, so it is a very big learning curve. The facility is fantastic and I know that plenty of work went into it over the last few days. It’s a real credit to the area and to the island. The track is a bit slippery, but I have enjoyed myself,” she said.
The fans were also treated to some thrills that pitted three Ferraris against three British cars, McLaren, Ford Cosworth and an Aston Martin.
Welsh driver Steve Griffiths was another big hit with his high-powered Lotus 101 along side a 700 horsepower Jaguar XJR.
Then there was the modified tractor driven by Top Gear presenter James May. When the smoke cleared, they were chanting his name.