CarBuzz joins the Supercars Club Arabia’s Delmonya tour from Bahrain to Dubai. The first two days have been mental.
Ahmed jumps out of the Aventador, desperate for Safi to lay down some donuts on the rain-soaked car park of the Losail International Circuit. Thirty seconds and 1,080 degrees later, with my head spinning and Camel Cookies rising to back of my throat, I have no doubt: The Supercars Club Arabia (SCA) are a bunch of hardcore, fun-loving nutters. With members from across the Arabian Gulf, the SCA has been taking tours biannually for the past few years. Its last trip, dubbed Scandiera, went through Europe, from Stockholm to Monaco.
This week the tour is closer to home. Delmonya, named after the ancient country Dilmun that once spanned this part of the world, kicked off in Bahrain and will end in Dubai via Qatar, Abu Dhabi and three racing circuits. After a night fast lapping the Bahrain International Circuit in the guys' and gals' Ferraris, Lamborghinis, McLarens, and Porsches, and a brief stint man-handling Renault Clio Cups around the BIC's inner circuit, the tour set off at the crack of dawn. Destination: Doha. There's one very simple reason why nobody drives from Bahrain to Qatar. Look at a map: you have to drive through Saudi Arabia.
The desert country boasts the highest road deaths in the world. It doesn't want outsiders turning up unannounced at the border wanting a bit of Hagwalah action. And the last thing it needs is 30 supercars tearing up the highway. Try entering Saudi Arabia by car. You simply can't do it. But a well-connected SCA gang member with a penchant for red Ferraris made the impossible possible. Months of planning, palm greasing and the removal of speed bumps across tens of kilometers of highways (yes, there are speed bumps on the highway) went into arranging this leg of the tour. And it was phenomenal.
The King Fahd Causeway links Bahrain to Saudi Arabia. From our hotel to the Saudi border took just 30 minutes, where the first of a series of prearranged police escorts waved us off leaving us in the hands of the border patrol. Hours lost to tedious border checks are clearly not fun but add an essential element of adventure to the experience. Finger print scans, cash payments, insurance checks and the confiscation of a bag of walkie-talkies later meant we were two hours behind schedule before we'd even started and, if it wasn't before, putting our foot down was now a necessity.
I joined a Canadian Gumball 3000 veteran piloting a yellow Ferrari 458 Spider for the first leg, following the police at speeds of up to 330 kph (205 mph) with locals snapchatting while trying to keep up. Two hundred clicks of barren landscape were traversed before we arrived at the beautiful home of Zakariya Al-Abdulqa. We were greeted by sword-carrying dancers and 10 spit-roasted lambs. Three hours of feasting followed and we were back on the road to the Qatari border. A photoshoot in front of the Gulf's largest water fountain and a fuel stop delayed us by another hour or so. And by the time we were on the road it was dark and a thunderstorm was overhead.
Heavy rain, no street lights and the sun long gone meant it was squeaky bum time for the next few hours. In case you wondered, most trucks in Saudi Arabia have no rear lights, a lesson I learned while riding shotgun in the Oakley Design one-of-one Aventador. Picture the scene: The rain is hammering it down. It's pitch black with no street lights whatsoever. You're in a convoy of 20 supercars with drivers who care little for the consequences of their actions. And then, out of nowhere while blasting down the highway at 200 kph (124 mph) a truck appears. This happened repeatedly for the next two hours before reaching the Qatar border.
Being held at the border for a couple of hours wasn't the ideal end to our first Saudi stint (we're going back tomorrow morning) but at least the rain had stopped. And Qatar's roads are well lit and tarmacked, meaning the final leg of our first grueling day was relatively pain-free. Dinner in Doha at an SCA member's restaurant in the high-end Katara area of the Qatari capital was dished up close to midnight. Traveling 400 miles across three countries with a group of amazing people with a passion for driving their cars hard and fast is a day I will never forget. Today wasn't bad either. The only thing on the itinerary was breakfast and an afternoon at the Losail circuit.
Police chaperoned us through Doha, stopping traffic at every available opportunity so we could get there feeling like kings. After a couple of obligatory parade laps Ahmed handed me the keys to his Aventador (there's a quarter of kilo of gold in the paint by the way). A motorbike circuit isn't the ideal place to thrash a V12-powered Lambo, but it is hilarious fun. Then it was time for donuts, a drive back to the hotel for coffee, and a few hours of sleep before readying for a return to Saudi Arabia in the morning en route to the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort in the UAE. Wish me luck.