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Diaries: AROC 8th GRAND TOUR 2005 - 7th to 11th SEPTEMBER 2005
AROC’s premier annual event for 2005 was dubbed the “GRAN TURISMO 2005, Mille Miglia Series”, with the slogan “Driving To Be Different”. The event route was 1,000 miles ala the Mille Miglia, but many members had to add extra distance from their home base; eg Penang, Singapore, and the East Coast as the Tour began from Shah Alam ending in Ipoh, but traversed and criss-crossed the northern half of the west coast peninsula up to the Thai border.

There were 49 Alfas which represented a production span of 3 decades from the latest 2005 models to 105-series Giulias from the 1970s. Cars like; Giulia GTV 2000 (1974), Giulia 1600 Super (1976), Alfetta GTV6 (1983), ten 164s, seven 155s, a 145 Cloverleaf, two 146s, new GTV, sixteen 156s (including 3 GTAs), four 147s, a 166 and three GT coupes. The 2005 GT registered participation from 47 AROCM members in 36 cars, 6 from AROC Singapore, with several guests (from Auto Italia and workshops) and media representatives from NSTP and Driven magazine. NSTP’s Jeremy Mahadevan’s human-focused article was published in the NST’s Sunday People supplement on 11th October 2005, capturing the Alfisti passion for their bellas and cuore sportivo spirit. Driven magazine may be including the event in an issue during 2006.

The routes driven during the 2005 Tour:
Achille Varzi (Mille Miglia 1934): Kuala Lumpur – Kuala Kangsar via Sg Siput
Carlo Pintacuda (Mille Miglia 1935/37): Kuala Kangsar – Gurun via Merbau Pulas
Antonio Brivio (Mille Miglia 1936): Gurun – Juru via Chuping
Clemente Biondetti (Mille Miglia 1938): Juru – Ipoh via Tg Piandang
Ercole Boratto (Mille Miglia 1939): Ipoh – Ringlet – Tapah – Ipoh loop

Special stages and events were also included along the various routes, and the hotel venues, including time trials, sprints and slaloms.

Day 1: 7th September 2005 (Wednesday)/8th September 2005 (Thursday)

Scrutineering & Participants’ Event Briefing were held at Aman Suria’s Nasi Kandar Sedap on Wednesday night for members based in the Klang Valley, and at Hotel Sri Petaling on Thursday for the Singapore, Penang and other outstation participants

Day 2: 9th September 2005, Friday

The Grand Tour drive began with the departure from Sime Darby Auto Italia’s premises in Glenmarie, Shah Alam. Flagging off was by Yg Bhg Tan Sri Elyas Omar, the Sports Commissioner of Malaysia, after a hearty breakfast and his rousing speech including his admiration for KK Tang’s GTV6. The Alfisti exited the North-South Highway at Tg Malim, and proceeded up the lesser-known backroads and rested for lunch at the Kuala Kangsar riverside promenade.

Leg 2 saw the Alfas traversing the roads north, initially towards the Thai border, before doglegging back to Selama in Perak and finally to the Harvard Suasana Hotel at Gurun. Night slalom and sprint events were held, with several surprisingly unexpected results after a poolside BBQ dinner.

Day 3: 10th September 2005, Saturday

The day began with a “sprinting” start, with some cars laying down an impressive trail of burnt rubber on the tarmac, their cars at the tip of a billowing cloud of acrid black smoke, leaving the Club President, Azman Jamrus, coughing and wheezing while flagging off the cars. The first morning sector saw the cars skirting the Thai border, while traversing the vast and scenic sugarcane fields in Chuping, a first experience for many of the participants. The morning route continued on through the challenging and less-traveled roads of northern Kedah, with the Alfisti navigating the twisty undulating tarmac ribbon edging Tasik Pedu. The overworked duty marshals for this sector, succumbing to heat and other strokes, were beginning to enact Scheherazade’ s 1001 Nights’ “flying carpet” scene when thundering Alfas started appearing over the hillcrest.

The drive continued down the foothills of the central range to regroup at Penanti R&R near Butterworth , before proceeding in convoy for a nasi kandar lunch courtesy of Auto Italia at their new showroom in Juru. The afternoon sector may have been the most challenging of all the routes in the GT. After the late lunch, the cars proceeded in convoy along the North-South Highway, to resume timed drives on exiting at Changkat Jering in Perak.

While some crews were outwitted by the tulips, several drivers were fortunate to have very bright and intuitive navigators who became default pathfinders for the rest of the troops. Understandably, with the late start after lunch, special stages planned for the sector were abandoned. As it was, many teams ended up checking in at the Ipoh Casuarina Hotel after 9pm.

Day 4: 11th September, 2005, Sunday

The final day in the Tour began after breakfast with a timed drive from the Hotel to Cameron Highlands via the new Simpang Pulai road. The route looped back down the old road through Tapah to return to Ipoh. While marshals and timekeepers were tallying up the scores, the Alfisti enjoyed a sumptuous luncheon in the ballroom, with the participants giving anecdotes and sharing their experiences during the Tour.

The Tour results were announced, with the presentation of trophies to the Tour winners and masters of the various events. The honour roll for the 2005 Grand Tour as follows:

Champion, the Mille Miglia award and Coppa d’Gran Turismo:
Dr Wong Ang Lai (166 3.0 V6)
1st Runner-up, the Targa Florio award: Desmond Khoo (156 2.0)
2nd Runner-up, the Tour de Corse award: Ron S Nathan (168 Super)
Sprint Master, the Disco Volante award: Gary Wong (156 GTA)
Slalom Master, the Scighera award: Dr Wong Ang Lai (166 3.0 V6)
Special Stage, the Visconti award: Malcolm Wong (156 2.0)
The Cuore Sportivo award: Amir Hamzah (155 2.0)
The Best Newcomer award: Michael Ng (156 2.0)

The Tour’s success was mainly due to the tireless effort, commitment and dedication of the event working team and marshalls, with the generous contributions and support from Sime Darby Auto Italia, Shell Malaysia, Mega Auto Service, Pelican Ace, Mr Steward Loke, Digi Telecommunications, HWL Performance Absorbers, New Straits Times Press, Harvard Suasana Hotel and the Casuarina Hotel, Ipoh. Tokens of appreciation were also presented to the event marshals by the Presidents’ of AROC Malaysia and Singapore. The Grand Tour was declared closed by the Club President, after presenting event mementoes to all participants.

by Othman and Bismi

Posted: TheTaj @ Wed Mar 01, 2006 3:25 pm

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