The Ferrari Owners’ Club
of Great Britain

Round 4

Brands Hatch - Festival Italia

18th August 2019

1st R1: Tris Simpson (355/Ch) / R2: Tim Mogridge (355/Ch)
2nd R1: Wayne Marrs (355/Ch) / R2: Tris Simpson (355/Ch)
3rd R1: Tim Mogridge (355/Ch) / R2: Wayne Marrs (355/Ch)
report by William Moorwood
photography by Klaus Hartleben, William Moorwood

Brands Hatch Festival Italia 2019 was bigger and better than ever. 24 cars were entered for the PFfc races, the best so far this year, more than enough cars to put on a good display for the large crowd watching the action on the Brands Indy Circuit. For a classic race series there was some very impressive reliability as 23 cars completed the first race and was followed by all 24 cars starting and completing the second race – well done to all those preparing the cars both at the track and in the workshop.

Thanks to a lot of hard work by Andy Bush this was also the first time that ballast was added to the three podium finishers after the first race. The idea behind this is to make the racing at the front more competitive and give others a chance at winning. It worked! Tim Mogridge drove exceptionally well in the second race to take a well-deserved first race win of the season for which he was given the RnR Driver of the Day award.

Qualification

In past years we have been blessed by exceptionally fine summer weather which has been enjoyed by the big crowd. This year was different as at the start of the 20 minute qualification session it was decidedly wet but as the time went by the track steadily dried out with all the fastest times set towards the end of the session. On pole was Tris Simpson followed by Tim Mogridge and Wayne Marrs, all in 355/Chs.

With the two fastest times being used to set the grid for the races Chris Butler and Peter Everingham shared 4th place in their Group Three 328 GTBs. Nick Cartwright figured well in his Group 4 328 GTB. It was good to see Charlie Ugo appear for the first time this season to be the best of Group 2 entries in his 308 GT4, one of a grand total of 5 GT4s entered. Overall the grid positions reflected the tricky track conditions and there were a number of positions which did not reflect the normal order. This would prove to be important in the races as it is hard to overtake on the tight Indy circuit and this created some interesting contests.

Grid Walk

This is a special feature of the race meeting and the big crowd walking down to see the cars from Paddock Hill Bend never fails to impress. MSV as event organisers were well pleased with the excellent grid of multiple Tipos and the enjoyment of the spectators as they crowd around the cars is a real pleasure to be part of. Maybe there is even a future racer amongst them?

Race 1

As the race got underway the cars at the front all got away in grid order with Tris Simpson taking the lead from Wayne Marrs. The good news is that all the cars got away safely with no contact at all in the opening laps. After a tentative qualifying laps Pete Fisk was soon able to make up ground in his 550 to get behind the leading 355s.

Darren Mills dropped back in his 328 GTB to run with Chris Goddard who was struggling with the brakes in his ex Tomlin 308 GTB. Within a couple of laps both would pick up pace and start to improve their positions.

With evenly matched cars it is hard to overtake on the short Indy Circuit and after only 7 laps the marshals were busy with blue flags as the front cars began to lap the slower cars. Chris Butler was, as ever, being chased hard by Peter Everingham and in a similar fashion Nick Cartwright was being pressed hard by Myles Paulton in their Group 4 328 GTBs.

It must have been good to watch as all through the field there was close racing. Charlie Ugo impressed to lead Group Two ahead of the 308 GT4 of the very experienced Richard Atkinson-Willes. Carl Burgar (328 GTB) who had been held up by William Moorwood in Group 1 308 GT4, made up a lot of ground but could not get ahead of Burgo Wharton in his similar 328 GTB.

The race took a change on lap 14 when Myles Paulton went into the gravel at Paddock Hill bend which bought out a safety car for three laps before the cars were released for a final three lap sprint to the end of the race.

At the chequered flag Tris Simpson finally got the better of Wayne Marrs for the first time since the opening meeting on the same circuit. Weight penalties would now be given to the first three to be installed for the next race. The weight of cars has always been a hot topic for discussion and we were about to find out if it really was going to make a difference in the second race.

Race 2

All 24 cars which started race 1 were prepared and ready to start in race 2. At the front there was a change in the front row of the grid as using the second fastest times in qualifying Tim Mogridge joined Tris Simpson on the front row and when the lights went out it was Mogridge who took the lead. Wayne Marrs was a little slow off the line allowing Chris Butler and a very fast starting Colin Sowter (348/Ch) to get ahead of him.

Chris Goddard was now running well and made up several places in the first two laps but then slipped back after a spin at the hairpin. After 3 laps order was restored at the front with the three 355s running in very close together with the 550 not far behind. Chris Butler now had Colin Sowter and Peter Everingham chasing him very hard.

Charlie Ugo was not going so well as the first race and was being challenged by Nick Whittaker who had taken over the family 308 GT4 from his son Ethan. Ugo would have to concede the Group 2 leadership to Whittaker but they in turn would be caught and overtaken by a resurgent Goddard.

At the front all seemed settled and very tight until lap 17 when a canny Tris Simpson move took advantage of a back marker to take the lead only to lose it three laps later to a ‘demon overtaking move’ around the outside of Druids (at least that was how it was described to me). Marrs also tried a similar move but could not quite make it stick.

At the finish it was the first win of the season for Mogridge and the crowd would have been impressed by the incredibly tight contest which lasted the whole race. There were some very tight finishes throughout the grid, none better than the 1/10th second which separated Nick Whittaker and Burgo Wharton. It is also worth stating again how impressive it was to have all 24 cars which started the race to finish without any form of incident. This reflects very well on the driving standards and the care which has gone into preparing the cars.