Pirelli Ferrari Hillclimb Championship

Round Round 10


4 September 2021

1st Nick Taylor (F430)
2nd Dave Snelson (F430)
3rd John Kennedy (California T)
report by John Swift
photography by TJB Road, Rail & Racing

There are few Hillclimb venues more pleasant than Prescott on a fine summer’s day.  So it was on the 10th September, when the Ferraris assembled for Round 10 of the 2021 Championship.  The dreaded Covid restrictions, albeit in less draconian form, were still in force although happily spectators were now allowed, the restaurant (now with new operators) had re-opened, and things were more-or-less back to normal. 

The Ferrari entry consisted of a dozen cars, the biggest number we have had this season, but sadly there were some last-minute withdrawals.  Jon Goodwin found there was a double entry in his diary for the day, and Paul Booth reported in sick.  Phil Whitehead got half-way to the hill but then experienced another persistent electrical fault on his F355.  He was forced to reluctantly head for home (at a slow pace) but promised to get the car sorted for the next event.

We were again privileged to be allocated the Bugatti Terrace, a plum spot in the paddock. It was good to see returnees Richard Preece and Mark Willoughby back in harness after recovery from ill health.  The rest of the drivers had been in action previously this season, and a tough battle for supremacy was expected between Nick Taylor and current PFHC Champion, Dave Snelson.

Competitors were instructed to arrive very early for this meeting, as they were obliged to walk the hill prior to runs being started.  The reason given was that some resurfacing had been carried out between The Esses and Semicircle. The Ferraris were the first class to open the meeting, and yours truly (in the F355 berlinetta) the first car to take to the track.  Unfortunately, this proved to be a bit of a disaster, as the car’s seat belt buckle got jammed under the hand brake, preventing release, so the car was slower than expected.

Of the others, Nick Taylor (F430) was the only driver to dip below 50 seconds.  For our American friend, John Kennedy, it was his first time at Prescott in his California T, and he returned a useful time of 53.71.  Pauline Goodwin arrived at the start line with plumes of smoke issuing from the engine bay of her 328GTB.  The culprit: a loose oil cap that was quickly fastened properly. The experienced Brian Jackson, who surely could tackle Prescott in his sleep, was driving the oldest car in the class – his immaculate 308GTB (‘BOB’) – clocked 55.92.  The last car to run in P1 was Martin Jones, who has now replaced his ‘circuit’ (ex-John Taylor) 360 with another very smart 360 in gleaming rosso chiaro. Martin recorded an exploratory 61.36.

Our Eligibility Scrutineer, Andy Bush, was on duty at this meeting.  He was accompanied by his wife, Daphne, who was celebrating her birthday with us.  Andy was asked to pick the Best Turned Out Ferrari for the informal Paddock Cup that is awarded at the end of the season.  It was a difficult job as all the cars were deserving contenders, but he chose Dave Snelson’s F430 as the day’s winner.

P2 for the Ferraris arrived quite quickly (there were few hold-ups during the day) and almost all our drivers improved on their earlier time, with Swift three seconds quicker now the handbrake was off. 

A decent lunch was served in the newly refurbished restaurant.  We noted that all the equipment was shiny brand-new, as were the staff.  To mark the change in the catering arrangements, competitors were given a complimentary bacon sarnie.

Again, the Ferraris were the first cars called up after the lunch break.  Pauline G missed a gear change at Ettores, spoiling her time.  John Kennedy seemed to be getting the hang of things, taking his California T to 51.45.  Snelson closed in on rival Taylor, stopping the clocks at 49.43, but was still almost a second shy of Nick’s time (48.65), which was his fastest ever climb here. 

And then, almost before we had time to treat ourselves to a cooling ice cream, we were lined up again for the final runs.  Track conditions were still very good, with the newly tarmacked section assisting traction out of the Esses, and braking into Semicircle.  Would we see a new class record from our two F430 protagonists?

First to blast off was Dave, with an improved 48.96.  He was followed by Nick, who recorded 48.94(albeit marginally slower than his first official run).  Of the others, Mark Wibberley almost renewed his close and personal acquaintance with the gravel at Pardon Hairpin, whilst Richard Preece was delighted to have beaten not only his previous fastest time with a 52.35, but recorded the fastest 0-64 ft time. He also collected the day’s Club handicap prize. Sometimes, life is full of splendid surprises!  Brian Jackson received 15 well-earned Championship points, only being beaten by the two F430 heroes.

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