Pirelli Ferrari Hillclimb Championship

Round 2


7 May 2016

1st Nick Taylor (430)
2nd Richard Prior (F355)
3rd Phil Whitehead (F355)
report by Richard Prior
photography by Mark Buckland, Dave Clarke & Richard Prior

It was a mixture of weather on the way up the M1 from the crack of dawn. A picturesque sunrise at the start, then patches of fog, more sun near Sheffield, which lasted until arriving at the hill, then misty again. But it promised to be a beautiful weekend ahead, heatwaves down south and we all hoped some of it would filter through here.

There were 16 of us present and traditionally we are the first class in the program, meaning an early start for nearly all the Ferrari drivers. Mike Spicer was apparently up at 4am, but we suspect that’s an age thing.

We had the usual rushing around, timing struts on, door numbers attached, signed on and scrutineered, then… 9am came and went, but we weren’t in the first batch as usual. It seems the single seaters were here for two days (instead of Barbon Manor on the Saturday, and Harewood Sunday) so the timetable was changed completely. Still nothing at 10am, and it was after 11am before we got our first practice.

We took out place in the queue for the start line, I’m sure we were told there was no wheel spinning or tyre warming before the start, and there were big signs as we approached the assembly area. But John Swift let rip in the 355 and generated some nice blue/black smoke. Immediately the fine upstanding marshals in orange suits descended on him to point out the error of his ways and told him “don’t try that again sonny or you’re out.” We’re not sure whether he forgot, or was trying a Jon Goodwin to blag an extra advantage. They kept an eye on us all after that.

Fastest starter was Pauline Goodwin in the California (2.48 seconds), not her favourite car for the hills, but the 328 is still being prepared for later in the year. Slowest start was Peter Rogerson (360) in 3.26 second 0-64 feet (I only mention that as he ended up being the fastest starter at the end of the weekend, see tomorrow’s results!)

Reigning champion Phil Whitehead in the 355 turned in the best time in P1, 68.84, which was over 1 second ahead of next man Richard Prior in another 355. Favourite for the win Nick Taylor (430) was in 3rd, and star of the previous sprint meeting at 3 Sisters, Mike Spicer, was exactly 1 second behind Nick in 4th place. Tony Attwood (308 GT4) went off at ‘Country’ corner, but continued on the grass for approx 100 yards until he re-joined the tarmac. Despite being nearly lunchtime the mist was taking it’s time to clear and was still a bit chilly.

It wasn’t too long before 2nd practice was called, and the sun made an appearance at last. Almost without exception the times came tumbling down. The only one who didn’t was Mark Hargreaves (308 GT4) who had slowed by just 1/100th of a second despite being 2mph faster through the speed trap. Juan Moreno in the 360 had made the longest trip from Plymouth to Yorkshire for his first ever visit to Harewood, and also made the biggest gain of nearly 7 seconds from his first practice run. Prior was narrowly ahead of Whitehead now by just ¼ of a second.

We were warned it would be another long wait until the official runs begin, with the single seater cars sorting themselves out and the upcoming lunchbreak, so we made use of the ice cream van and splendid catering in the marquee at the edge of the spectator area. Lasagne and salad, jacket potatoes, and numerous combinations of baps and sandwiches were eaten while watching the remaining classes take to the hill.

We were promised 1:30 start, but again we slipped down the pecking order and didn’t get back into the cars until after 3:30pm. Would we need headlights before the last run.?

Juan Moreno led the pack to the startline, his 1st official run was 1 second slower than his earlier practice, Peter Hitchman (430) was next, his best start and splits gave him 75.60 and his best time of the day, while Chris Hitchman was up to 70.44 in the shared 360. Jack Hargreaves’ times were tumbling with every run, he was on the scoreboard with 74.71 in the 308 GTB, but Dad Mark Hargreaves in the GT4 version was down slightly on 76.45. Both were to go faster in the final session.
Peter Rogerson was now getting into the zone when the lights changed to green, progressively better 0-64ft times, this time 2.66, helped him to his fastest time of the day on 76.27.

Pauline Goodwin still held the fastest start, now on 2.45 seconds and a finish of 71.74, her usual 328 rival Mike Spicer followed her up and was just a fraction slower from the beginning with 2.46 but the nimble 328 made it to the top in 69.61.

Phil Whitehead had to start to reel in the others, but too quick into the left kink before Orchard saw him run out of braking room & he took to the grass, Prior was next up and saw the fresh tyre marks disappearing across the inside of the corner, his time of 68.12 made him temporary leader, until Nick Taylor came up next and was the first into the 67’s.

The important 20 points were provisionally going to Mike Spicer yet again, unless the others get their act together.

2nd run time came, and conditions were at their best.

Juan took another 2/100ths off his time and 83 mph was his fastest speed trap of the day, Chris Hitchman was very close to his handicap target and finished in the low 69’s. Jack and Mark Hargreaves had both nibbled away at their time all day, and ended on 73.05 & 74.02 respectively. Tony Attwood carved 1.35 seconds off his earlier climb, his 76.70 was just enough to stay ahead of son Iwan in the shared 308 GT4 who also improved to 76.88.

John Swift and Mark Wibberley were almost even on the first run, just a fag paper between them, but Swifty found over a second on his final ascent, while Mark reduced by just 5 hundredths, putting the Competition director up into 7th place ahead of Juan Moreno in the table. Pauline took another half second off with 71.27 & moved up to 6th place on scratch, while Lorraine Hitchman blasted up in 72.25 which slotted her into 9th place between Moreno and Wibberley.

Now the top 4 took to the track. Despite a slower start Mike Spicer knocked 0.54 off his potential points winning time, 69.07 was a new PB for him, reinforcing his return to hillclimbing this year on excellent form.

Phil Whitehead matched Spicer speed trap of 76 mph, but had improved enough to get ahead of him with 68.33 knocking the 328 maestro off the podium but not enough to trouble him for the points.
Prior threw the 355 hard into every corner, trying to stop Spicer’s winning streak he shot up the straight at 83mph & saw the clock at the top of the hill read 66.98 and into the lead, not quite a PB, but a good attempt he thought.

Until the final runner in the class Nick Taylor followed him up 30 seconds later. Nick hit 87 through the speed trap and stole the lead back with 66.93, just 5/100ths ahead of Prior but a fantastic drive to take the top silverware (or glassware in the case of Harewood).

Calculators were out straight away to see how this affected the championship scores. There was no catching Spicer for the 20 points, with PEP factors applied his 69.07 became 67.00, Prior’s changed to 67.65, and Taylor’s + 2% increased his to 68.27. Mike was now on a run of maximum points in the championship.

Could they stop him tomorrow? Maybe if he has one too many G&Ts at the dinner tonight held in the superb Hazelwood Castle.

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