Ferrari Hillclimb Championship
1998 Season Review
Robin Ashley, in his beautiful yellow Dino 246 GTS, emerged as the popular winner of the highly successful 1998 Hillclimb Championship. Entries were stronger than ever, the competition intense, there were many highlights (and a few lowlights) and, as they say, the future looks bright.
It is pleasing that Ferrari UK continue to provide outstanding support for the Championship and that this will continue into the 1999 season. Richard Allen, as always, was the driving force and the organisational talent behind the series, although the single-handed style became increasingly at odds with RACMSA requirements and events during the season led to a revised administrative structure.
Various 328 models obviously provided the backbone of the series, although Richard Baker's 308GT4 took full advantage of its 1.5% PEP allowance to finish second.
Although the series purports to be for standard cars, the level of modifications was reaching worrying proportions. This caused some grumbling during the 1998 season and the FHC is still largely dependent upon drivers declaring any modifications carried out to their cars in return for additional PEP handicaps. It is inevitable that, with the increasing competitiveness of the series, people will want to win it all the more and this could lead some astray into undeclared tampering. Much tighter scrutineering is the answer in the future.
Geoff Dark drove incredibly hard in his 308GT4 but became down-hearted later in the season when his car fell foul of eligibility wrangling, although this was later cleared by the RAC. Richard Allen was an outstanding performer, with two maximum PEP scores in addition to his seven overall wins, but his F355 drives were handicapped by the PEP system. Jon Goodwin (Mondial) was tipped for success but had all sorts of car problems, a most unusual factor in a Ferrari class.
Len Watson was impressive at MIRA and Wroughton, where he took a brace of second places on scratch with his 328GTS. From his Curborough debut at Round 3, Robin Ward has been a star performer, culminating in his brilliant win at Wroughton's season finale in his 308GTB. He deservedly took the Newcomer of the Year award and had there been a Driver of the Year he would undoubtedly have won that as well.
….. and so to 1999There is every reason to assume that the new season will be at least as good as the old. All the leading contenders have stated their intention of returning and there is the prospect of some exciting tipos appearing. Geoff Rollason is rumoured to be having an F40 and Jon Goodwin will appear in the ex-Rollason F355. For Ferrari UK also it is important that the newer tipos come to the fore in order to justify their sponsorship support.
The 1999 calendar has been finalised and embraces 15 rounds at broadly similar venues to the previous year. The regulatory framework for the Championship has been somewhat re-vamped in response to competitors' grumbles about rule-making on the hoof, although whether the structure that has been set up will serve this purpose remains to be seen.
The hard competition amongst the drivers this year has impressed organising clubs of speed venues and it has become easier to get Ferrari-only classes. It looks as though the FHC will not disappoint the spectators in '99!
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