Iberia September 2017

Our long awaited Iberia trip has been and gone, but what a fantastic week it was. A week in Portugal and Spain, sampling three race circuits was always going to be a highlight of the year, and we weren't disappointed.

The plan was for the first batch of staff to fly to Faro on Monday 4th September, drive to Lisbon and stay near the airport ready to collect clients first thing Tuesday morning. Being amongst the welcoming party, myself, Kirsty, Clive, David Bailey, Pete, Scoop and Phill made our way to Portugal. After meeting clients at the arrivals gate, we ushered everyone into our minibuses and ferried them to the first hotel, the spectacular Hotel Cascais Miragem. Glorious sunshine and beautiful sea views greeted us upon arrival, and we were definitely in awe.

There was just enough time for a quick check-in, and a paddle in the pool, before staff grabbed some lunch and headed to Estoril circuit to set-up. With seven trucks and 46 cars to unload, it was always going to be a busy task. However, we arrived in the paddock to see all trucks unloaded, and cars lined up ready to be stored in the pit garages. Given that we were on a tight schedule, with our welcome dinner that evening, it was a huge relief to see our truck drivers had been able to really crack on.

Before long, everything was ready for the next day, and we were heading back to the hotel. With just enough time for a quick dip in the pool (quite literally thanks to a certain Mr Phill King), it was soon time to get ready for the welcome dinner. Our welcome dinners are a great way to start the trip, as it gets everyone together in a relaxed, social situation, allowing early friendships to form. A lovely meal on the terrace overlooking the pool, as the sun set over the sea was the perfect setting for this.

A number of our regular customers were present on our last Iberia trip, and so were somewhat familiar with all three circuits, but for most each day was a big surprise. Estoril was the first point of call, and a great place to start. Like many of the circuits we visit, it holds a long standing presence in motorsport, and is steeped in history, having hosted the Portuguese Grand Prix, amongst many other events over the years

Having not visited the circuit before you develop a perception of what you expect. It was twistier, for want of a better phrase, than I expected, with more elevation change than anticipated, but I certainly enjoyed it. Especially from the passenger seat of our new Donington Edition Caterham, with Jonny at the wheel. Despite a few red flags, the day finished with everyone in one piece, as the busy task of loading began. With everything back in place aboard the trucks, Estoril was ticked off the list.

In order to save room on the trucks, we decided to drive two of our own Caterhams from Estoril to Portimao. Photographer Scoop and mechanic Adam were handed driving duties, whilst Kirsty and I hopped aboard for the passenger rides. Driving a Caterham from circuit to circuit, in sunny Portugal certainly had its bonus points. The down side was over four hours of being unable to escape the blistering 37 degree heat. However, despite arriving very sunburnt, it was still a great experience.

The next day everyone arrived at Portimao with high levels of intrigue and excitement. Many of our customers who had been before listed this circuit as their favourite of the three, and so were very keen to get going. With the weather pushing 40 degrees, and very little shade available, it was a hard day. Drivers were finding themselves doing shorter stints in car, before coming back in to rehydrate, and let their cars cool down. The circuit itself was a brilliant venue. A long lap made up of long straights, undulating bends, blind crests and a lot of elevation change provided the perfect balance.

At the end of an incident-free day it was all hands on deck once again, as cars were ushered into the seven trucks, following a clean and a prep, ready for Jerez. It was another late night at the circuit for the lads, however they made it back to the hotel just in time to join the majority of the BaT team for steak night.

Our second hotel, Pine Cliffs Resort was a beautiful venue. Not only were the complex features an extremely high standard, but the discovery of its own private beach was a highlight. With a morning to pass before we drove to Jerez, a number of us headed to the beach for a spot of paddling and some good old fashioned rock pooling. Upon arrival at the final hotel in Jerez, Barcelo Montecastillo, the staff kindly provided welcome drinks, again creating a lovely social setting between clients and staff.

Part of our European track day package offers minibus transfers, including airport collection and drop off, and transport to each circuit and hotel during the trip. As many clients book this, they are reliant on us for transport, so with that in mind we offered a minibus transfer into Jerez on Saturday evening, giving everyone chance to sample the local atmosphere.

The final track day went without a glitch. One red flag towards the end of the day was the only issue. After packing up the trucks in record time, staff were soon back at the hotel, and ready for the finale dinner. Another delicious meal, followed by an evening of socialising with clients, was the ideal end to the trip.

Despite issues with flights on the journey home, it was a brilliant week. Kirsty did an excellent job with the organisation, and it is always great to work with such a hard-working, fun group of people - thanks for another round of memories BaT team. Of course, I must also say a huge thank you to all the clients who came with us.

Plans for next year's trip are already being discussed, and we hope to have something in place to announce in the coming months.

Leanne Fahy
Marketing, PR & Events Executive
20 September 2017

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