x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Supercars travel home to Italy for a spot of European fun

16 members of the UAE Ferrari Owners Club headed to Europe for a summer trip of a lifetime, taking in the amazing roads of Switzerland and Italy.

The Ferrari Owners Club UAE head for the Italian alps.
The Ferrari Owners Club UAE head for the Italian alps.

Having evocative moments in a car of any sort is a struggle in the UAE. Unfortunately, the geography of the Arabian peninsula that brought such wealth to the UAE isn't ideal for memorable drives. Yes, you can head to Al Ain's Jebel Hafeet or even up into the Hatta mountains. Or if you really want those sweeping vistas and a road all to yourself, you could take the long route to Liwa. Having explored all these roads over the last year, 16 members of the UAE Ferrari Owners Club headed to Europe for a summer trip of a lifetime, taking in the amazing roads of Switzerland and Italy. The cars included a number of 430s, 599s and 612s, as well as a 430 Scuderia, all sporting Dubai number plates.

"We've been planning this trip for over a year, so it's amazing to actually see the cars on the roads in Europe," said Fred Kamperman, president of the club. "These cars are built to be driven on beautiful roads and having explored most of the great areas of the UAE we felt this was an ideal escape from the summer heat for the members." The club arranged for the members' cars to be shipped from Dubai in 40-foot containers.

"Some of the cars had only a few centimetres to spare on each side in the container, so it was a slow and steady job to get them in without damaging them," Stephen White, the club's motorsports and events director, pointed out. But the shipping of the cars didn't end once the doors were closed. The clearance paperwork involved in shipping cars to Europe - ones that would later return - is a far more complex task than simply exporting a car for good.

To enter Europe the cars needed paperwork equivalent to a passport to ensure they didn't get stopped at the borders, potentially ruining the trip for their owners. With all the cars arriving safely with all the correct documents, the club's team could enjoy a few days of relaxation before really starting to enjoy the trip. The two-week adventure had been split into two week-long loops. Both started from the Ferrari factory in Maranello, Italy .

A few members took an early flight to ensure they had time to nip into Germany to stretch their sleepy Ferraris on the unrestricted highways. Being able to drive as fast as is sensible for the prevailing weather conditions surely has to be one of the last great freedoms left in Europe. Back across the border, Switzerland may have strict speed limits and heavy noise restrictions, but it's also home to some of the world's most spectacular roads. As driving experiences go, not much comes close. The club's schedule took in the fabulous cities of Zurich and Interlaken, as well as the stunning lakeside venue of Montreux during the first week.

Members also gained access to the world's largest private collection of Ferraris, owned by a member of the Swiss Ferrari owners club. The schedule also built in a great deal of shopping, sightseeing and relaxation time, as well as a tour of the Audemars Piguet watch factory. The drive then wound its way across the country towards the Swiss-Italian border via Davos and the excellently titled Bad Ragaz, before crossing into Italy.

If Switzerland has almost the best roads in the world, then just across the border in Italy the driving gods set out their very own Scalextric set for the world's most passionate drivers to enjoy. "Italy really does have some incredible roads," said White. "Each time you pass through a town the locals love to see the cars. I think they really enjoyed the fact that we had travelled so far with our cars to visit Italy."

After a stopover at the stunning Lake Como, the chain of 16 cars eventually arrived at the factory gates, bringing an end to the first week of the trip. Having whetted their appetites in Switzerland, returning their cars to their birthplace was the perfect start for the second week. All Ferraris are still built in the original factory in the sleepy town of Maranello, close to Modena. The club had arranged an official tour of the world-famous factory for the members, which gives a small insight into the one of the world's most sought-after car brands.

The whole town is geared towards the prancing horse, including all the shops and restaurants. Across the road from the factory, the Galleria Ferrari is a must for fans. Part museum, part superstore, the Galleria just adds to the Ferrari legend. With the tour under their belts, the UAE club members met up with members of the Italian Ferrari owners club, for a joint drive on some of the best roads around the factory.

"Meeting up with the Italian Ferrari club was fantastic," said Kamperman. "It's nice for us to be able to meet like-minded members from another country and I think they enjoyed driving with our cars, sporting unusual Dubai number plates." The drivers then headed to Tuscany for even more scenery and winding roads through Italy's best-known wine region. The rest of the Italian section of the trip took in the towns of San Gimignano and Siena, as well as the picture postcard Chianti and Brunello countryside. Each member was amazed by the tight back roads and sweeping scenery around almost every corner.

Finally, it was a loop back around to Maranello to drop the cars off for the long journey back to Dubai. With the trip drawing to a close, both Kamperman and White will be kept busy ensuring the cars are all loaded safely and getting the infamous paperwork in order. Once the cars are back safely both will be able to heave a huge sigh of relief. After such an amazing summer tour, all the UAE Ferrari Owners Club members will probably need a well-earned rest from one of the most hectic holidays for years.

Will they go through it all again? "Probably," concludes Kamperman. motoring@thenational.ae