Pirelli Ferrari Hillclimb Championship

Round 7

Loton Park

16th July 2017

1st Nick Taylor - F430
2nd David Snelson - F430
3rd Mike Spicer - 328 GTB
report by Tony Attwood
photography by Pauline Goodwin, Jon Goodwin & Barbara Spicer

The Loton weekend continued on Sunday with yet more drama after Saturday’s various amazing performances. As with Saturday the weather played tricks on us and then the organisers were also about to cause chaos if it hadn’t been for multiple red flag stops.

Iwan and Tony Attwood arrived in the paddock first and were greeted by Gerry Walton ready to scrutineer. Gerry explained that the organisers hoped to get the first 5 batches of practice 1 completed before the church break at 09.30. They were already under way at 08.30 and the Dino was rapidly prepared and scrutineered when Mike Spicer and Jon and Pauline Goodwin arrived and were told to get ready ASAP. We were advised that if we missed the practice batch then we would lose the practice run.

Almost everyone had assumed that Batch 5 would not run until after the church break so most cars didn’t arrive until after 09.30. Iwan Attwood being in the sole dual drive car was in Batch 4 and, as it turned out due to multiple red flag stoppages, he was the last car to practice before the church break. A lucky break for 70% of the Ferrari class!

Practice resumed after the church break and almost everyone was already down to their competition times of Saturday despite threatening rain.

Pauline Goodwin continued to fly off the line and her first practice 64ft time was just 2.19 and then just 2.16 on 2nd practice with Mike Spicer following at 2.17. The start times of almost everyone surprised the drivers and during the day all the following got down to or under 2.40. Iwan & Tony Attwood, Dave Snelson, Jon Goodwin, Peter Rogerson (2.25), Mark Wibberley, Brian Jackson, Phil Whitehead and Nick Taylor (2.26). Several drivers improved so much that handicap times suddenly had to be changed.

The rain kept coming as a very fine dampening and we were lucky that all cleared for the excellent BBQ before coming back before the first official timed runs.

All eyes were on Iwan as he was in the batch before the main Ferrari class. The track looked damp, other drivers were coming back down and saying it was wet at the top and it was definitely feeling damp.

Iwan went forward to the hold before prestart and saw a stag crossing the track just before Hall. Red flag for the car in front and marshals were running from the start and Hall to see where the stag was, but it had disappeared in the undergrowth. Where we did not know and there was very little ground for it away from the track. After several minutes the stag had not been seen again and the cars were released. Iwan posted an apparently unbelievable time of 66.13 which was almost a second under his best  Saturday competition and Sunday morning practice. Everyone was amazed, as was he, as he got back down the hill shaking. Dad (Tony) went up in class and was 3 seconds slower and mortified that there was no improvement on Saturday.

The only other person to improve on Saturday was Lorraine Hitchman and also by over a second.
Then Phil Whitehead went screaming off with every sector time better than Saturday until the top of Cedar when he got sideways under braking, wheel on the grass and a spin to go straight on as he was going in to Fallow. He went through the tyre wall head on, to almost join the rest of the class in the top holding paddock, but from the wrong end. Phil was unhurt and the car was still driveable, although there was front end damage. This resulted in a red flag for some considerable time and just Nick Taylor left to complete our class.

Nick had the benefit of the sun coming out before he could start his run and he made the most of it with a stunning 58.90 which was very close to Jon Goodwin’s hill record, and better than anything he had done before. Dave Snelson had, until then, done everything he could and was then determined to go faster.

So the second runs commenced in much better conditions but quite late in the afternoon. The Clerk of course was already worried about a late finish as she had expected to have completed at least half of the second runs.

Iwan had been told by others (not by Dad) to take it easy on the next run if he had felt the first run was so scary. Dad just said “if it feels OK continue but if anything seems scary then slow down”.  Iwan went off with a start of 2.40 subsequently matched by Tony but 0.01 slower than before. Thereafter he just went faster than anything he had done before to get a 65.20. Tony was just relieved that he had a time so no problem on the way. Then realisation kicked in that this was also nearly a second better than anything done before and a few gentle expletives emerged. Iwan was quizzed closely when he returned down the hill. His explanation, “It just felt right”.
Who can argue with that?

So the main class went off but Peter Hitchman had decided to go home early and Phil Whitehead decided on no second run. Everyone except Nick Taylor improved on the first run. Dave Snelson did his best ever 64ft at 2.32 but Pauline again did a remarkable 2.13 to equal her best ever, while Mike Spicer had to be content with a “slow” 2.18 which was 0.01 slower than his first run. Dave Snelson was faster than Nick on this run (59.54 compared with 59.85) and Mike Spicer was third with a 62.47. Everyone was going well until Tony got up Cedar Straight to see a Red flag. He was turned around at Fallow to have a re-run and Peter Rogerson also had a re-run. Peter made the most of his second run to get his fastest start and a second off his previous best time of the weekend with a 69.08 but was beaten in the other 360, driven by Mark Wibberley, who was delighted with his fastest ever 64.71.

Meanwhile Tony had been slotted in to have his re-run and set off much happier with the start and Hall only to get another red flag at Loggerheads. He was upset as he had felt in the groove but it was back to the start via Triangle exit for a third attempt after everyone else. Even the commentator said that he hoped it would be third time lucky, and he had a clean run to record a PB of 65.56 which was 2 seconds faster than ever before but still slower than Iwan.

So, what have we learned?

Firstly the new track surface has made a difference. Neither Iwan nor I feel that our times should be considered the fastest for a 308GT4 despite the stats showing that we are faster than John Marshal (65.62) and Sean Doyle (65.91) on the old surface.  Nick again took the 20 points, followed by Dave Snelson and Mike Spicer. Pauline has the best ever 64ft.  time and Iwan deservedly won the handicap with 2 sensational runs. Most of the red flag incidents were due to deer not being shy, as normal, and so invading the track area. They certainly caused a lot of delay.

Our Official Partners