wheels Car of the Year 2012 awards ceremony

Actually, everyone knew the winners by the time the 2012 wheels Car of the Year awards bash got under way. But what a day it was, writes Imran Malik

  • This is the only time of the year when you’ll see Dejan, Imran, Amit and Sony dressed this smartly. Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/ANM
  • Jonathan beats Tim to securing a deal withMcLaren’s Mark Harrison for a spin around the block in the MP4 SpiImage Credit: Stefan Lindeque/ANM
  • Sponsors of the event Samer Al Amiri, left, manager EPPCO Lubricants and Khalid M. Al Bastaki, ENOC LubricantsImage Credit: Stefan Lindeque/ANM
  • Alan Carpenter, GM sales and marketing Al-Futtaim Motors, receiving the Readers’ Choice award for the Toyota 8Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/ANM
  • Jamal Sahl, regional general manager, Peugeot Middle East with Neeraj Mahajan, CEO, Al Naboodah Commercial GroImage Credit: Stefan Lindeque/ANM
  • Samee Ahmad, right, marketing Manager with Suleiman Qadoomy, marketing supervisor Kia, Al Majid Motors Co.Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/ANM
  • Atsuo Kosaka, Nissan Middle East Managing director receiving the award from wheels editor, Amit BenjamiImage Credit: Stefan Lindeque/ANM
  • George Willis, managing director, Porsche Middle East and Africa and James Hewes, Gulf News magazines publishiImage Credit: Stefan Lindeque/ANM
  • BMW Middle East marketing manager Michael Keller.Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/ANM
  • Andrew Hellyar, Skoda UAE’s brand manager wheels editor, Amit Benjamin.Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/ANM
  • JY Cho, right, general manager Hyundai Motor Company Middle East with Tamer Al Hakeem, general manager — markeImage Credit: Stefan Lindeque/ANM
  • Nassos Kravvaritis, head of marketing and communications, Mercedes-Benz Cars, ME and James Hewes, ANM PublishiImage Credit: Stefan Lindeque/ANM
  • Tove Widlund, general manager — marketing, Al Habtoor Motors and James Hewes, ANM Publishing Director.Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/ANM
  • John Stadwick, president and MD, GM Middle East and James Hewes, ANM Publishing Director.Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/ANM
  • Mark Harrison, McLaren Automotive’s regionaldirector for Middle East and Africa and James Hewes, ANM PublishImage Credit: Stefan Lindeque/ANM
  • Karim Corm, regional manager, Ford Middle East and wheels editor, Amit Benjamin. Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/ANM
  • Thomas Milz, managing director, Volkswagen Middle East and wheels editor, Amit Benjamin. Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/ANM
  • Trevor Hill, managing director, Audi Middle East and wheels editor, Amit Benjamin. Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/ANM

It’s the crack of dawn (alright; closer to midday…) and the wheels crew is busy arguing at the majestic Meydan Hotel about whether or not the Focus should be moved an inch closer to the Camaro ZL1. The quarrel nearly comes to blows (girly love taps…) yet there’s still no outcome. This is going to take all day — there are  16 more cars to be positioned.

We crack on but no sooner do we put our differences behind us, another problem rears its ugly head; 18 cars are not going to fit in the space provided and there’s not long before the lavish ceremony is to begin. Ideas come thick and fast.

“Let the valet guys park ‘em,” moans Dejan. Not a bad idea but valet guys and MP4-12C Spiders shouldn’t mix. “Let’s try a carefully dishevelled formation,” I cry.

Amit is swayed until I add, “We can pile some on top of others…” “How about we shut shop and go home?” says Sony, gloomily. Cancelling is not on the agenda, not when months of planning has gone into the making of this, the fourth wheels CotY awards bash. Key sponsor ENOC is backing the event and with Samer Al Amiri, manager EPPCO Lubricants, scheduled to make an appearance along with a long list of MDs from Audi, Porsche, GM and many more, this gig has to go ahead. “We’ll do a V formation,” shouts Amit and we begin manoeuvring everything from the Continental GT to the Skoda Yeti into place.

The wheels and ENOC branding has gone up alongside the motors, the display is complete and all we have to do is head home and doll up. But ironically, we don’t have a car to ferry us back and forth. Having parked a Boxster, 3 Series, Quoris and ML 63 AMG, it’s into a less than impressive beige taxi and we’re off.

A quick change and copious amounts of cologne, it’s back to the venue where wheels’ marketing team have done a superb job decorating the ballroom, which overlooks the perfectly manicured racecourse. The guests begin to arrive; welcome drinks are downed and the soothing sounds of a saxophone fills the air.
Everything has come together as planned and the 90-strong guests make their way into the hall where MC for the day, Mark ‘Sparky’ Pendergast, gets things underway. 

GN Magazines publishing director, James Hewes, delivers a welcome speech and then it’s time for the main event. The lights are dimmed and all eyes fall on the giant screen where videos of every winning car are to be played. First up is our Supermini of the Year winner, the Peugeot 208 and collecting the fancy trophy is Jamal Sahl, regional general manager, Peugeot ME and Neeraj Mahajan, CEO, Al Naboodah Commercial Group who receive a warm round of applause.

Trevor Hill, managing director of Audi Middle East, gets quite a workout as he races up on stage not once, but twice to collect trophies for the S6 and the S8. But if he’s struggling to catch his breath, then spare a thought for Alan Carpenter, general manager sales and marketing, Al-Futtaim Motors. Thanks to the Toyota 86, Alan makes three visits to the stage to collect three trophies including Car of the Year. He thanks us later for helping him get into shape.

Atsuo Kosaka, managing director, Nissan Middle East looks mighty pleased when called up to accept the trophy for the Sunny, as does Thomas Milz, managing director, VW Middle East — who like Trevor, is called twice; once for the Passat and a second time for the Scirocco R.

We’d chosen the Camaro ZL1 as our Muscle Car of the Year and the equally muscular frame of John Stadwick, president and managing director of GM Middle East, is on hand to shake James’s hand and pose for the cameras. And so it continues with JY Cho, general manager Hyundai Motor Company Middle East and Tamer Al Hakeem, general manager — marketing, Juma Al Majid-Hyundai UAE grabbing the gong for the Hyundai Sante Fe, Samee Ahmad, marketing manager, Kia Al Majid Motors Co. accepting the honours for the robust Quoris and Andrew Hellyar, Skoda’s UAE brand manager, taking the shield for the indomitable Yeti.

Suitably wined, dined and entertained, the event wraps up and the wheels crew has, yep, another fight, this time about who gets to take the MP4-12C Spider home. The answer? None of us. A delivery guy turns up while we bicker, mounts the McLaren on a truck and heads off, and pretty soon, all the other cars have been collected too leaving us with another taxi. Tragic…