Simply Abu Dhabi XX

I’d just completed a few very fast laps behind the wheel of the euro 1.3million, 360kmh, Pagani Huayra supercar at the Yas Marina Circuit, dumbfounded by its poise, acceleration and overall track manners. Breathless and nearly speechless from a combination of exhaustion after a few blisteringly quick, heart-racing laps and genuine admiration, I walked toward the garage removing my helmet and straight to the diminutive, smiling, grey-haired man standing, watching on. “Congratulations Mr Pagani, you have built an outstanding car.” Do you know how long I have wanted to do that? To hand the keys to one of the world’s fastest supercars, after giving it a proper outing, back to the man whose name is on the badge? For that brief moment, and after some honest appraisal I had given at his request and while the adrenalin was still coursing, I knew how someone like Ascari felt when he climbed fromhis post-war Ferrari Tipo 375 Grand Prix car to report back to Enzo Ferrari, or the Bentley Boys when they spoke toW.O. Bentley after scaling down off the high-speed banked turns of Brooklands. In today’s world of global amalgamation where the brand name Bentley belongs to VW and the trademark of Ferrari is owned by Fiat, Pagani the man is Pagani the car. And here he was, listening to me of all people and asking what I thought of his newest baby, the Huayra. Horacio Pagani was in AbuDhabi to announce the collaboration with the Dubai-based Aladiyaat Group, headed by chairman and CEO, Montaser Al-Kuzbari, whichwill market and distribute Pagani cars across the region. Mr Pagani’s life-long love affair with cars began in his native Argentina, no doubt influenced by his countryman, the great, five-time world champion, Juan Manuel Fangio. But as a budding designer, Italy was the only place to be. With his wife Christina, a suitcase, two bicycles and a tent, he made his way to Italy and eventually found work as a designer with Lamborghini. “At a time when only McLaren was producing carbon fibre components for its Formula One cars in the 1980s, I was pioneering the research of compositematerial in production cars, and after five years I beganworking with Lamborghini to create the first chassis in carbon fibre for the Countach evolution,” Mr Pagani said. “While this was happening, I worked around the clock to buildmy dream, which was my own car company that came to fruition in 1999. I slowly created a niche market that was probably not there at the time, for very highly customised cars, especially with craftsmanship that you can only get from Italy.