Pirelli Ferrari Hillclimb Championship

Round 8

Loton Park

10 July 2022

1st Nick Taylor (F430)
2nd Steve Thompson (488 GTB)
3rd Dave Snelson (F430)
report by John Swift
photography by John Swift

Sunday morning dawned much as the previous day had ended: warm sun promising hot temperatures again.  In the past we have sometimes caused the organisers – Hagley & DLCC – to berate us for late arrival at the track.  However, a little light briefing at the previous evening’s Ferrari Dinner seemed to achieve results, and everyone arrived in the Loton Park paddock in good time.

There were a few absentees from the previous day: in spite of the apparent recovery of her F430’s transmission malaise, Rain Hitchman wasn’t confident that the car would perform trouble-free a second day.  So she headed for home, with Chris gallantly making sure she arrived safely.  Brian Jackson had a prior engagement, so the Portofino also disappeared.  The net result was that we had a reduced field of 11 Ferraris.

P1 times were generally a bit slower than Saturday’s; perhaps the Dinner the previous evening was having an effect.  Dave Snelson (F430) was the fastest of the three front runners in 60.05 although the others were not far behind: Taylor (F430) was second quickest in 60.88 and Steve Thompson (488GTB) recorded 61.81.  Jon Goodwin’s Lusso time was an excellent70.06 – almost equal to his handicap goal.

There was a general improvement in times in P2, although Snelson (68.01) probably had a little contre temps to allow Taylor (58.86) to assume to assume the role of King Pin.  Peter Rogerson must have had a good night’s sleep as he recorded his fastest time of the weekend.

Again the burger bar did a roaring trade at the lunch break, vying with the ice cream van for top sales as the temperatures soared. And then before you could say “another vanilla cone, please, and don’t go easy on the chocolate” the Ferraris were lined up again for R1.  Kennedy, despite the absence of the rival Portofino, clocked 62.37.  Pauline G wound her 328GTB to 66.50, her 0-64ft time of 2.41 sharing the fastest of the day with Nick Taylor’s F430. Steve Nunney was delighted with his 348ts time of 71.23 – his quickest time of the weekend. Peter Rogerson seemed to have relaxed a bit – his time of 73.32 being almost 5 seconds adrift from what he can produce here.

During the interval between R1 and R2, we took the opportunity to present Nick Taylor with the wooden horse that is awarded to the fastest competitor in Saturday’s competition.  Jon Goodwin handed over this unique prize, explaining its history and association with the late Count Alfonso de Portago, who was an international sportsman of great renown.  He twice raced in the Grand National at Aintree, he was an international-class swimmer, and created the Spanish bobsleigh team to take part in the 1956 Winter Olympics.  He joined the Scuderia Ferrari F1 team in 1955 and shared the second-placed car in the British GP with Peter Collins.  Sadly, he was killed instantly in 1957 when a tyre burst on his Ferrari, leading the Italian government to ban the event forthwith. But perhaps most appropriately, de Portago was related to Loton Park’s owner, Sir Michael Leighton.

With the presentation concluded, we turned our attention to the all-important R2.  Pauline G provided some drama on the start-line when her 328 snapped into a spin.  She recovered but her time was a leisurely 79.39.  Jon G took the Lusso up in exactly the same time as his R1 figure – who needs a Rolex?  Kennedy attacked the hill with a vengeance, his California T’s time of 61.90 being his quickest of the weekend.  And then it was time to see how the final finishing order would shake out.  Taylor’s 58.59 looked secure but could Thompson’s rapid 488GTB get him close?  The clocks stopped at 59.39.  And the Snelson’s F430 time was slightly than his R1 figure.

So that is how it all finished, with Nick carrying home the 20 Championship points and Peter Hitchman, deservedly, the Handicap prize.  It had been an eventful (and very hot) weekend, but enjoyable as usual.

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