One doesn’t think of Baku, Azerbaijan as a hotbed of auto racing; in fact, until this weekend, the nation had never held a motor race.
The Azeri government dramatically changed that with its four-day City Challenge event, with parades, art shows, dancing to DJs, children’s activities, and three days of racing action featuring world-class GT3 machinery and classic F1 cars and drift cars.
The city of Baku laid out a tight, 2.2-km street course, using materials imported from neighboring nations which had experience with building temporary tracks. The course didn’t offer a lot of passing room, but the races were exciting nonetheless, with a uniquely frenetic pace found only on very tight street courses where there is no room for error
The weekend culminated with the one-hour City Challenge GT race, featuring many teams and drivers from the FIA GT1 World Championship. The Hexis McLaren of Step Dusseldorp and Frederic Makowiecki beat the Vita4One BMW of Matthias Lauda and Frank Kechele.
The real winners were the people of Baku, who had never experienced racing and who got as potent dose. More events are planned for 2013.