The Ferrari Owners’ Club
of Great Britain

2014 Pirelli Ferrari Hillclimb ChampionshipPirelli Ferrari Hillclimb Championship

Round 12

Curborough

20140817

1st Nick Taylor (430)
2nd Richard Prior (355)
3rd Richard Preece (355)
report by Shaun Smith
photography by CMDigicams

The Nurburgring has 154 corners and takes 6.5 minutes for the fastest drivers to connect them. Its smaller sister, Curborough (Curburing!) has 8 corners on the long course and takes about 65 seconds to navigate them. Over the years these 8 corners have become very familiar, and much loved by sprinters and hill climbers. So much so, it is said that ‘Bob’, Brian Jackson’s venerable 308, can find its way round without its pilot. Imagine the shock therefore, when we learned that Shenstone and District Car Club, owners of Curborough, had added a crossover section for 2014 turning the course into a figure of eight circuit with an extra couple of corners to boot.

Curborough has always been one of the best attended of the PFHC events but perhaps this innovation attracted even more drivers than usual as 18 cars, representing all of the V8 tipo, entered. The event also saw Jon Goodwin arrive to spectate in his lovely 275. Christian Mineeff and Tracey Haynes were there to cheer us on as was Carolyn Cooper (sans horse) and even Sean Doyle (sans car) was tempted out to provide moral support to Mike Spicer.

So what of the new circuit? The cross-over section essentially joins Shenstone Straight to The Molehill reversing the direction of the circuit for the second lap and then the second new cross-over takes the car back from the Shenstone Straight joining just after The Molehill to finish the course in the same direction as before. The effect is dramatic. From being a point and squirt circuit favouring the power cars, it is now more flowing allowing the older cars to carry speed through the new section. It is also more technical in that the new Woodside corner is very difficult to judge as it tightens on itself. Finally it is a great improvement for spectators because they have a wonderful view of the cars taking Woodside but can also see more of the action more of the time now. A memorable sight was Nick Taylor’s 430 squirming its haunches as he applied power all the way round the circuit.

Most drivers took P1 cautiously allowing time to learn the course and remember not to go charging down the straight as before. Nick Taylor has driven the course before and this showed because he was quick at 67.18, but Richard Prior was quicker still ‘straight out of the box’ with a time of 67.04. Mark Wibberley had got some sneaky practice in having done a number of laps at a client event a couple of weeks ago so was a little disappointed with his time of 73.19 although he did record one of the fastest speeds over the line at 94 mph, a velocity shared by Richard Prior, Peter Rogerson and Pauline Goodwin. Mike Spicer and I were within just 4/100ths of each other at 70.27 in Spike’s favour continuing the close competition we have been enjoying over the past few rounds.

Because of the size of the Ferrari entry the organisers split us into two groups. This allowed some opportunity for each group to observe the other. I was fascinated to see the different techniques used for the Woodside section; whereas I was driving too aggressively and under-steering my way round, Mike Spicer was taking a beautifully controlled line on a balanced throttle; Richard Prior was almost standing the car on its nose to a standstill at the turn-in before nailing the throttle at the earliest possible point of the apex to slingshot out of the corner. Great stuff!

P2 saw most times improve with familiarity of the circuit. Most notably, Iwan Attwood took 8 seconds off his P1 time but was still 3 seconds off Attwood senior. However the younger generation got its revenge when Jack beat his dad by a similar margin. Richard Preece had a ‘moment’ on the crossover where the back end stepped out and, although he caught it neatly, it resulted in a slightly slower time than PI.

After the large entries and long delays due to red flags and medical incidents at recent events like Blyton and Loton Park, it was a credit to the organisers and drivers that the day ran like clockwork. Rain was forecast for the early afternoon so two quick practices were followed by the first timed run before lunch. This proved a great call because the sharp shower duly arrived on time allowing the competitors to bank their first run and enjoy a drying track for the rest of the day.

T1 got off to a blistering start for Richard Preece with a 2.39 64’ time. Nick Taylor squirmed his way round to a very quick 64.83 taking the scratch lead from Richard Prior. Pauline Goodwin, Chris Hitchman, Brian Jackson, Tony Attwood and Peter Hitchman all put in their best times of the day, perhaps showing the benefit of flowing straight from second practice into the first timed runs without a break.

During the lunch break we held a short dedication ceremony to Graham Easter who sadly passed away last year. Curborough was one of Graham’s favourite courses and he was fond of offering great advice or scathing comment (depending on your perspective) of how to take Fradley Hairpin so I am sure he would have been observing the new course with interest. A new gate to the circuit bearing a plaque remembering Graham was dedicated by FOC.

Following lunch and the promised shower, we launched into the second timed runs. Clearly food had fortified some with Mark Wibberley, Lorraine Hitchman, and myself setting our quickest times. The weight of the substantial cheeseburger over the rear wheels clearly benefitted Spike who lay down a blistering 2.23 64’ time. Richard and Nick continued to battle it out with just a tenth of a second between them with the next five drivers all within a second of one another. Richard achieved his best time of the day at 65.03 (this compares with his best time of 63.42 for the old long course)

Onto the third and final timed run and it was still only 3.00pm! Jack Hargreaves set his best time of the day of 70.38 but this was still a bit off the pace for him as Jack prefers the flats to the hills and has been known to scoop 20 points before now. Jeff Cooper crackled his way on the over-run to a 73.01 best time while Nick Taylor recorded a quick 102mph over the line. Mike Spicer, Richard Preece, Phil Whitehead, Mark Hargreaves and Iwan Attwood saved their best to last and recorded their fastest times of the day. This was enough to give Richard Preece 3rd on scratch at 67.03 behind Richard Prior at 65.03 and overall winner Nick Taylor on 64.83. When the PEP’s were calculated by the ever-helpful Angela the points were as follows: Richard Prior 20, Mike Spicer 17 and Brian Jackson 15, putting Richard firmly back in the lead of the championship.

So, the verdict on the new Curborough: great fun, great racing and great spectating. Graham would have approved.