14th June: Barcelona – Ibiza
The finishing grid beckons
Waking at 10am I, somehow, felt as fresh as a daisy, despite the odd drink or two the night before. In my head, after this marathon of a journey, I knew all I had to do was get the F355 down to the Port Denia by Alicante – around a four to five-hour journey – and, once on the ferry to Ibiza the finishing grid beckoned.
As the previous two days, we decided to skip the checkpoint to ensure we boarded the ferry in good time and, for the last time on the 2019 Gumball 3000, headed out from our hotel in the Ferrari F355. Oddly, although there were police at the tolls, there were none on the open road and I was able to really open the car up, burying my right foot into the carpet. It was a delightful drive, punctured by a couple of fuel stops, the second of which, in case I needed it, illustrated precisely why the Gumball 3000 is THE event of its type.
Whilst filling the car for the last time, a Porsche 911 pulled up next to me. The driver wound his window down and said “Ollie?” “Errr… Yes… I responded… how are you, and how do you know me?!” The driver introduced himself as Loot (apologies for any misspelling) and he told me he followed me on Facebook and on The Peaked Lapel website! He had seen the F355 with 76 on the side and knew it was me and so asked if he could follow all the Gumballers to the port. I said of course he could and so, having paid, we set off towards Denia.
Unfortunately this convoy was short lived – once more, every single Gumballer was pulled over to be breathalysed and, not wanting to be caught up in the mayhem, Loot sped off (!). The police officer who stopped me however clearly took a shine to the car (which happened a lot), checked my documents and said, “go, quickly, before my boss sees you!” Without needing a second invitation, my father and I disappeared into the distance, leaving everyone’s ears ringing with the noise generated though my car’s four exhaust tips.
The rally is finally over
About 90 minutes later we arrived at the port and, just as it had five days previously, the mayhem of loading 120 supercars onto a ferry began. Having negotiated that test, we then sat ourselves down for around two hours, waiting for the ferry to dock in Ibiza. After the week we had had, I felt a little jaded and so, after a swift sandwich, I got my head down and closed my eyes… after all, I knew it was going to be a long weekend ahead.
Around 6pm we docked and, there we were – about 20 minutes away from the finish line. I wasn’t sure what to expect – just how many fans were going to turn up in Ibiza? I needn’t have worried!
The streets were lined with people all videoing and taking photos of the Gumballers as they arrived. We were in the first 10 to cross the finish line, where we were met by Mr Gumball 3000 and briefly interviewed before parking up and getting out. I cannot even remember what I said to him but I have no doubt it would have been something like “what an incredible experience and even better to have shared it with my father – the best co-driver ever!”
The partying begins (again)
Leaving our cars on the grid, VIP shuttles were arranged to take us to our hotel, Destino, where I met up with my sister and her two friends who had come to celebrate with us, as well as a great friend from law school, Aymen, another great friend, Tudor as well as Vicki and her son (my godson), Will who had flown to join us from Barcelona. We all had dinner together before, around 10pm, another friend of mine, Marcos, arrived from London – literally for the night! It was absolutely amazing to have everyone join me – family and friends, to celebrate the finishing of the Rally!!
It wasn’t long until we had made our plans to head out and so, by 1am, we were at Hi, partying to David Guetta. Needless to say, the next time I slept was on a sun bed around 8am, having gone back to the room, showered and changed before heading to the pool… sound familiar?!
My huge thanks and love go to my family who, without all their support and guidance over the years, even contemplating doing the Gumball Rally would have been ridiculous. But to actually do it with my father and have my sister celebrate the end in Ibiza was just amazing. We missed my mum, who was unable to make the trip but, to be honest, having seen the ‘fan centro’ girls by the pool, I’m pretty sure it was for the better!! Anyone who has seen the videos (!) will know what I mean…….
On top of that, the fact I had so many friends come join me speaks volumes about their character and loyalty. Big thanks goes to them too and I will forever cherish these 10 days of Gumball 3000 madness.
So, what about my choice of car – my Ferrari F355?
It was, in my humble opinion, the perfect car for this rally. With baking hot sunshine every day, the roof was stowed for 99.9% of the time and the air con kept our temperature bearable. Had it rained any more than it did (two minutes in Croatia), then I would not be saying the same thing but all the stars aligned perfectly to ensure we could enjoy the car how it was meant to be driven.
It had more than enough luggage space (albeit Victor and Ivan generously gave us some more room for the Gumball 3000 merch), was relatively economical compared to other cars on the Rally, was certainly fast enough (we left plenty of much more powerful cars in our wake), makes an incredible noise and, despite being 22 years old, still looks amazing on the road. Most importantly she did not miss a beat. With Lamborghinis, Rolls Royces, Porsches and Aston Martins all having trouble at some point, the old girl soldiered on without even a hint of an issue.
That goes to show just how well made the car was in the first place and, just as importantly, how great a job the Ferrari Centre did with preparing her. I’ll never forget Rodger and Claire’s words… “She’ll be fine… that’s what she was made for…”
And what about The Experience?
Intense. Exhilarating. Sleep deprived. One or two hairy moments…
Overall an incredible experience to share with my father. It was such a privilege to get to spend so much time with him and I feel like we know each other now like we would never have done had we not done the Gumball 3000 rally. It sounds like an obvious thing to say, but he had to trust me to drive the entire way, a lot of it at speed, in a manual car with no traction aids, in searing heat and often not only keeping up with but overtaking more powerful cars. In turn I trusted him with the navigation and some questionable photography and videography skills! So, in short, my father + the F355 Spider was my dream Gumball 3000 team
I genuinely could not have wished for more and, I can honestly say having now had a week to digest it, Gumball 3000 certainly lives up to expectations. It’s an incredible event with worldwide popularity and my thanks must also extend to the entire Gumball 3000 team for their hard work and determination to ensure the week went like it did.
From now on I am going to take the Spirit of Gumball into my everyday life and so, with that, there’s only one thing left to say…
“LET’S GUMBALL BABY!!!!!!!“