…logical and natural. We are always looking for good locations and special venues. I was invited here by friends and we immediately decided that this was a place to do it. Beautiful city, beautiful people…
Before Baku the City Challenge had been laid down in Hungary and Romania and nobody had imagined that it would come to Azerbaijan’s capital. Even when preparations started with special fencing being installed along the roads in the city centre and stands erected for spectators, people still had their doubts. And then it was true… With a track of 2.1 km and 4 special stands the venue was ready to welcome some world-famous drivers.
The first day…
It all began with classic Formula 1 and GT3 cars making their way from the Boulevard up to the Kempinski Hotel at Badamdar, which was one of the event’s sponsors. No doubt, the competitors felt like mega stars; they were in big demand for autographs and photographs. They included champion drivers Jacques Villeneuve and Jos Verstappen, who posed against a range of cars: Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Lamborghini, McLaren…
One of them, 1997 Formula 1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve was invited to Baku City Challenge to race in a Porsche 911 GT3-R. Talking with journalists Jacques, who took 7th place in the Baku challenge, said:
I had never been to Baku or Azerbaijan and I’m always interested in learning something new. There has been no serious racing tradition here, so a race on the streets will be a new experience for local people. I know Jos, we were together in Formula 1. He hasn’t raced in recent years, but I´m sure that he will be as charged up for success, as I am. We even have the same initials, and that´s a good sign.
Seen in 120 countriesThe event had extensive coverage, across 120 countries, with a total audience of 300 million viewers. Thus it was another chance to show Azerbaijan and Baku to the world. Dozens of journalists from around the world scampered from one stand to another looking for the best angle to take a successful picture – quite tricky through the strong safety fence. A lucky few accredited journalists were allowed to film from corners otherwise closed off.
Motorsport and eastern traditions
So many childrenAs the show organizers admitted, this event was quite different from previous ones. What made it special was the coincidence of beautiful city with huge interest from children. That was true! The organisers were struck by the fact that there were so many children eager to watch; they were fascinated by the racing, empathising with the competitors and enjoying their triumphs.
Speed is good but style is everything
You know, these races are always difficult and anything can happen. But that is the challenge for the drivers.
McLaren on top
We are delighted with the racing
Those were Rene de Boer’s words, summing up the competition once the show was over. He thanked the local companies that supported the show in various ways. They assisted in building the track. Drivers, mechanics, team members, journalists, guests, sponsors - everyone was impressed.
I have to say the reception was impressive, people were so kind. It’s amazing!
I think it was a fun experience for all involved. And the weather was very good. I was certainly not disappointed. In Germany, for example, it´s snowing now. You know, the organisation of this kind of racing is always accompanied by difficulties, because it is necessary to do everything. In some cases, everything is ready and you do not have to arrange a lot. In Baku, we did it ourselves. It is always difficult, but we did it thanks to the supporters who made it easier. Everyone who came was satisfied. This is the best place for racing. And I would like to organize more racing in Baku in the future.