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by Karl Peskett

For the first time ever, a modern era Formula 1 car has lapped Barbagallo Raceway in Western Australia. On Sunday, Mark Webber and Daniel Ricciardo took to the track and stunned fans with the sound and speed that is Formula 1.

With a program that included everything from vintage race cars, through to modern-day exotica and even electric cars, the Festival of Speed had something for everyone.

But the highlight for the fans was seeing a Formula 1 car up close and personal, with spectators able to walk up close to the car where it sat in the Red Bull garage tent.

Event director, Terry Mader, told CarAdvice that the biggest challenge for organisers was securing an international superstar as the festival’s headline act.

“The biggest hurdle to overcome was getting the Formula 1 World Constructor’s Champion here. But once we had the commitment from Red Bull Racing, everything else fell into place exactly how we wanted it,” said Mr Mader.

Obviously very pleased with the way the day ran, and how the festival was received, Mr Mader said that the event would “definitely be back next year.” There was talk of a street circuit for 2011, which would overcome the biggest hassle for organisers this year – the facilities.

Parking and access to Barbagallo Raceway are two key areas which have to be addressed, with some fans waiting in their cars for almost three hours to get in. There is only one small but long access road in, and with impatient spectators overtaking others to try and get in, mayhem was the result. Several cars overheated while waiting in line – a 36 degree day is not kind to older cars – while fans sweltered in almost no shaded areas.

Still, the program didn’t run too far overtime, meaning fans were able to see Webber get onto the track soon enough for his official warm-up lap.

Afterwards, Webber told CarAdvice that he was happy to be in Western Australia.

“I’m really pleased to see all the fans here, and all age groups. This isn’t a Formula 1 track – it’s pretty small – so the main thing is it’s nice to be here for all the fans, to say hello and display the car,” said Webber.

When asked if the long wait was normal, Webber explained that F1 always attracts people.

“Formula 1 draws people like no other motorsport. Whether it’s in Norway, or Chile, or here, people just love it, and you can understand that there’s always going to be a crowd. I just want everyone to come and have a look because it’s not something you get to see every day.”

Asked about Daniel Ricciardo, Webber was visibly happy for him.

“I think he’s doing great,” he said. Webber was asked if there would be a possibility of Ricciardo being on the same team at some stage.

“Uh, I don’t know about that,” he said. “Two Australians on the same team might be a bit much for the Europeans, but to line up on the grid and have two Aussies there would be fantastic.”

Ricciardo took to the track shortly after the interview, as Webber handed over one of his drives. Ricciardo showed the crowd he had control of the several-million-dollar machine as he blasted around the circuit keeping the tail in check. He then delighted the crowd by doing doughnuts right in front of the pits.

Webber showed his experience later on with his final display lap, being visibly faster than Ricciardo – and showed off with even more burnouts.

For a motorsport enthusiast the first Australian Festival of Speed was certainly the best event yet held in Western Australia, and with access improvements or a street circuit, the 2011 event promises to be even better.

Pics: Jan Glovac




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