International Superstars Series – Valencia 7 & 8 May 2011
Now I am sure you will be asking yourself… what the hell is that! It is a new series of saloon car motorsport. Let me explain…..
When I saw that my local race circuit was holding a ‘Superstars’ race event it got me interested and I looked it up on the internet and was quite surprised by what I read.
I know, I’m a traitor – do I stop at home and watch the Turkish (Formula 1) GP or do I go to Valencia and the Circuit de Ricardo Tormo? Well, I just love being up close to racing cars whatever they may be so I had to go to Valencia. Don’t worry – I had arranged for my wife to record both the qualifying and the race in Turkey so I would miss nothing.
More good luck, I saw a pal of mine who offered me a VIP paddock pass for Valencia, so that was it – I was going.
Saturday was mostly practice and qualifying for the Superstars series, Ferrari Challenge Trophy by Pirelli, GT Sprint and Formula Abarth. Sunday was all races.
What interested me in this new International Superstars Series was the number of manufacturers that were taking part and we are not talking little 1.6 or 2 litre engine cars, no we are talking V.8’s of around the 500bhp or more. Know what I mean!!!
Here is a list of the cars that are involved BMW M3 E92, Mercedes AMG C63, Maserati Quattroporte, Audi RS4, Jaguar XFS.V8, Chrysler 300C SRT8, Chevrolet Lumina CR8, Lexus ISF, Cadillac CTS-V.
I had a quick read of the rules & regs and the cars have to be originally for road use and the engines are basically standard but the engine electronics can be changed – exhausts, brakes, and much more to make them race ready.
I did ask at most of the team garages what the cars bhp was, but each time I was told anything from as little as 380bhp up to 600bhp. Nobody was giving anything away. Needless to say, that if you went for around the 500bhp then you will be somewhere near the mark.
The paddock was full of cars and garages but little else. I had expected to see exhibitions of all the manufacturers’ cars but that was not the case. Never mind, I wasn’t there to buy a car was I.
Thankfully for me, I was able to get everywhere over the weekend: in the paddock, the garages of all the formulae taking part, pit lane, pit wall and even the grid formation. My camera was throwing out smoke and moaning!
Saturday proved to be a mixed weather day because in the afternoon the heavens opened and it poured with rain plus the thunder and lightning, this caused the Ferrari Challenge qualifying to be stopped for safety reasons.
Now to the reason I went, the Superstars Series. I would say it is something between WTCC and DTM. Good up close racing with rolling starts. The drivers are all very good and know what they are doing. They need to because ex-F1 driver, Johnny Herbert, is racing in the series.
Luckily for me, I got to meet with Johnny and talk to him for quite a while. He is a really friendly guy, happy to talk, always smiling and ready to have a joke. Pity there are not more like him. Also he has not lost any speed and knows how to handle that #48 Mercedes of his.
If any of you get the chance to go to one of these events, then do so. Entrance into the circuit was free and you could buy a paddock pass if you wanted for €15.
The support events were also very good but I must confess I had less interest in the Ferrari Challenge and GT Sprint races. What did surprise me was the Formula Abarth series. 1.4 turbocharged Abarth engines giving between 180 and 200 bhp. They really did put on some good racing.
To conclude, I had a great time as you will see from my pictures and also I managed to watch both the qualifying and the race in Turkey.
PS Take a few minutes to enjoy Tony’s photos from the International Superstars Series in Valencia by watching a presentation below.
Drivers’ standings after Valencia: click here.
I must thank Tony for his great post and a wonderful selection of photos, courtesy of that mean Nikon machine. I really think they should rename the circuit after Tony or at least go from “Valencia” to “Tonyville”.