“The most daunting hill climb I’ve ever seen” said Ferrari Owners' Club Chairman Jack Sears as he studied this tortuous and hazardous Jersey venue. Scary to drive, it is stunning scenically with the prettiest seaside paddock you are ever likely to encounter and for the second year running the weather was nigh perfect. Look behind - the sea had a distinctly Caribbean hue, and the other way was awash with Ferraris and assorted competition cars. Right on the edge of the paddock is a luxury hotel and a pub too. What more can anybody want? (Thank you Judith Chalmers - Ed)
Just in case you missed last year's report, a brief description of the Bouley hill will not go amiss. Less than a mile long, on a public road closed for the occasion, it winds up the side of hill from the beach and small harbour that forms the paddock area. There are a series of hairpins, some very tight, and one or two fast sweepers involving mostly lower gears with third only needed on one part of the course. What makes it exciting and very daunting is the trees that grow out of the side of the road - there are stone walls and rock faces too. Errors can be costly just about anywhere and one marvels at the sanity of the single seater drivers, who hurl their Pilbeams and similar up Bouley during The British Hillclimb Championship round held here later in the year. The Formula 1 crowd, with their sanitised circuits and safety criteria, would not believe it!
Undaunted, the FHCC drivers got ready for action early on Easter Monday. An entry of ten Ferraris dropped to single figures with the loss of an incapacitated Peter Rogerson as a result of a holiday accident. Last year's Ferrari winner and class record holder Jon Goodwin was raring to go, unfazed by his big off here on his final run in 2003. His record time of 51.29 was achieved with a 360 Modena of the chiffon scarf variety, but this time around he had brought his more serious Woodbridge Speed Trials winning F355 to knock the spots off the opposition. Other entries included point-hungry Richard Prior, second last time with his 348ts, and Nick Taylor his Mondial 3.4t now with beefed-up suspension to cope with the rigours of the forthcoming Ferrari formula classic races.
For many years the FHCC has been the haunt of mostly older chaps – with anyone under forty, and there are one or two, counting as really young. Amazing then to report that new recruit Marco Pullen, over in Jersey for his first ever event of this kind is just 19! As you can tell from the foregoing, Bouley is hardly the best place to start out for anyone, but Marco showed great maturity and did not put a foot wrong or a mark on his very pristine white 308GTSi over five competitive runs.
Two practice runs were taken and predictably, Jon Goodwin pushed the 355 hard enough to get under his last year's 360 mark with 50.69. Richard Prior was second fastest on 52.29 well ahead of Richard Allen (F355) and Christopher England (308GTS) both on 53.28. Nick Taylor stroked the Mondial up in 53.36, and was followed by John Marshall (328GTB), then Philip Whitehead (F355), Simon Burn (308GTBi) and Marco Pullen. Only dramas were provided by Christopher England bumping another car ever so slightly in the cramped paddock, and your reporter having to use reverse gear on second practice due to navigational concerns, or rather corner overshoot.
Jersey MC, the event organisers were anxious to get in three or even four competitive runs and the first of these was taken before lunch. Once again it was the daring Jon Goodwin, his 355 now near the limits on 50.31, which was to prove both a new record and class winning time. Taylor moved the Mondial up in to second, much quicker than his practice time with 52.03, followed by Allen's 355 still in third. Prior can never be accused of not trying. Exiting the final hairpin he went wide, gnawing off the outside bank, the 348 then going broadside and poking its nose in to the nearside bank where he came to rest with minor front end damage. Look at the chart and you will see a time of 67.15 for this run, which is extraordinary as the car spent the next five minutes stationary, and never crossed the finish line. Turns out Jon Goodwin came down the course to see whether Richard needed help and walked through the timing beam!
On the second official after lunch it was Taylor that rang the bell – he really attacked the hill, posting a sensational 51.39 with the Mondial, only a tenth slower than last year's 360 Modena class winning time! This was to secure second overall, and even more significantly, a delighted Nick was inside Jon’s PEP time and on twenty points – his first ever maximum score. Prior, his bumper now nicely tank-taped up produced a careful 52.16, whilst Christopher England took just 52.53, half a second ahead of his 2003 time and an incredibly fast run for a 308GTS. I managed to anger the startline marshall by rolling back and crunching his wheel chock. He was obviously p****d off with me and switched the timing clock off 19 seconds into my run and even though unlike Prior I made it to the finish line, it was classified as a “no time”.
Time ran out before we could take a fourth run but on the third Goodwin and Taylor went slower, whilst Prior produced his best run of the day at 51.74 for third overall. Whitehead also got in his best on 53.30, as did Marshall clocking 53.66 with his 328GTB. Burn with a fastest time of 54.96 on his second was probably relieved to keep ahead of Pullen’s similar car. Young Marco was a credit to our class, driving quickly and smoothly, steadily improving his times with each run unlike some of us. His 308GTSi is totally standard apart from some amazing nineteen inch wheels, which may help around corners but are more likely to slow it down elsewhere.
An interesting result then, and the signs are that we will be having some very strong competition for the Championship this year. After two rounds Richard Prior now holds a tenuous lead of just one point from Jon Goodwin, and suddenly a fired up Nick Taylor with a rigid Mondial looks like he could be in the hunt too!
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