In recent months the Live Demo crew have taken our world championship winning machinery to all sorts of wonderful spots. We’ve powered through the streets of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, lit up Marseille’s docklands and we’ve hoisted the double-title winning RB7 62 storeys into the air in Miami to turn donuts on the roof of a skyscraper.
However, amid all those exotic adventures, it’s fair to say that in recent times we might have slightly neglected our fans closer to home. Take Ireland for example. Looking back at the Live Demo scrap book revealed that the last time we were there was all the way back in 2010. In short, for the Emerald Isle, it had been a while. But we could fix that.
A couple of quick phone calls later and we were on course: RB8, check; David Coulthard, check; full roster of motorsport legends on two and four wheels lined up to cause mayhem on the streets of Belfast, check. See, easy peasy.
And so, earlier this week we loaded the double title-winning RB8 into the back of one of our transporters and hit the road. After a slightly bumpy ferry ride to Dublin, and after a short haul up Ireland’s M1, we were in Northern Ireland on our way to Belfast for what promised to be a spectacular evening’s entertainment. And so it proved.
After heavy downpours in the afternoon, the rain mercifully stayed away for the evening show and it meant that upwards of 30,000 people thronged the course around Belfast City Hall, Donegal Square and Chichester Street ahead of the 8pm start.
And their patience was rewarded when DC shattered the relative quiet of downtown Belfast by firing up the RB8 shortly after the hour for the first of three full-tilt blasts. The roads may have been slippery, but DC was equally slick, controlling the 2012 double-title winning car through effortless power slides on his supremely quick way round the specially laid out route.
With the whole city now on maximum alert, DC’s first run was followed by stunt rider Mattie Griffin and the Galway rider, ranked fifth in the world at Street Bike Freestyle Rising in 2008 and 2009, wowed the crowd with a brilliant series of no-handed wheelie, 360˚s while standing on the tail of his bike and a whole bunch of burnouts and donuts.
Fans of motorcycles were well served on the night, with local road racing heroes Jeremy McWilliams and Ryan Farquhar also roaring around the course on a pair of KMR Kawasaki Supertwin bikes.
Back on four wheels, Irish drifting wonder kid Conor Shanahan also revved up the crowd. The Cork youngster has been making stunning progress in the world of Pro Drifting and in June took his first Drift Masters GP win in Poland. And on the night, Conor put in two spectacular displays during the evening, drifting his Nissan 180X within inches of the barriers.
After a second outing to test the conditions midway through the evening, DC pulled out all the stops on his final run. The Scot pushed the RB8 to its limits on the damp track and gave the crowd exactly what they’d come to see with a series of show-stopping burnouts and donuts.
“The reaction from the people of Belfast has been absolutely fantastic and I’m not just saying that in a ‘nice to be nice’ kind of way,” said DC afterwards. “The warmth of the fans has been amazing and the amount of people who have been coming over to say ‘thank you for coming to Belfast’, ‘thank you for bringing the F1 car here, so big thanks to Red Bull for making this opportunity possible. It's not easy to get all the permissions.
“I believe that not a lot of people live in the city and most live in the suburbs and outside of town, so to have them come here at night is a testament to the huge level of support for motorsport there is in Ireland,” he added. “There’s no question the Irish love F1. There’s a huge motorsport tradition here – on two and four wheels, circuit racing, rally – so it was really special. I’m not sure if we wait another eight years I’ll be able to fit in my race suit, so we’d better come back again soon!”