With Christmas just around the corner it is that time of year when we can reflect on the past season. Before starting these notes I turned up my review for 2003, “maybe the best season yet” it said, and then this time a year ago - “if anything 2004 surpassed the previous year, and must be the best ever for the series”. This all sounds somewhat repetitive, especially as I was going to say that 2005 was the greatest season yet! Anyway I am sure those of you who took part have your own view on this, and enjoyed the action and great competition that went on right through all the events. Certainly the entries at nearly all the rounds were the strongest yet, and thanks are due in no small part to members newly joining in recently - they are all displaying great enthusiasm to get out there and compete with their Ferraris wherever possible. A fitting climax to this really terrific season was going in to that last 2005 event at Cadwell Park in October, where the first three places were still to be determined for a truly exciting finish!
Richard Prior, newly crowned winner of the 2005 Ferrari Hill Climb Championship, took that final round cliff hanging result at Cadwell with his 348ts – the car still bearing some scars from his least impressive seasons result at Harewood in September! Easily the highest total point scorer of the 2005 season, Richard competed in every single round, and never finished lower than third on the PEP factored point scores. He had four maximum scores and no less than seven second place point scores. A runner up for the Championship in 2003 and 2004, Richard overcame the inconsistency displayed in these previous seasons and in 2005 was very strong everywhere, with many second and third places on scratch. Always cheerful and seemingly laid back, he showed increasing maturity, making few mistakes this season even under the great pressure that he must have felt on the last couple of meetings. It is difficult to pick a best performance from so many excellent results, but his most remarkable drive has to be that last run at Cadwell in October, when he overcame what seemed like impossible odds to clinch the 2005 championship.
Geoff Dark, second overall and just a couple of points behind Richard, had started the season with his 308GTB freshly kitted out with a full harness and race seat. You could tell he meant business and at the very first round at Loton Geoff took advantage of the inclement conditions to score maximum points. He knows the way around these hills better than anyone and, remarkably for a man of his age, raised his game yet again this season, going on to take three more maximum pointers at Shelsley, the second Prescott and Gurston Down. These four maximum point results, and just the best of seven scores counting, favoured his position and closed the contest right up towards the end, as elsewhere he generally scored lower then Richard Prior. Throughout the season Geoff showed both pace and commitment and again it is difficult to pick out a best performance. As great as his results were at Shelsley Walsh and the second Prescott, maybe his second on points at Harewood in September with his best ever run there was the most remarkable.
Nick Taylor, the 2004 FHCC Champion, came out with his handsome new 348GTC and even though carrying the last year’s winners one per cent PEP handicap, was scoring strongly at most meetings. His pace was formidable as he pulled off a whole string of scratch wins, generally eclipsing the previously dominant F355 of Jon Goodwin. Nick managed one maximum point score at Hethel, was generally stonking everywhere he went and, under less pressure than in 2004, was wearing a very big smile all season! At the final Cadwell round where he took the class win, Nick was tied on points with Chris Butler for third overall but clinched it after an eighth score countback was taken in to account.
Besides our three podium finishers there were some great performances from the other drivers, especially Chris Butler – he took his F355 to three class wins and three maximum point scores and was one of the top runners most places. No maximum point scores for Jon Goodwin this year, though remarkably he still collected five class wins with his F355. He would be the first to admit that he is not able to match his previously blistering times with this car – but then neither is anybody else! Christian Mineeff did fewer rounds with his 328GTB, but notably took a brace of maximum points at the Harewood meetings. New boy David Tomlin was a revelation with his F355, finishing seventh overall and also claiming a couple of second-in-class awards. A previously serious go-kart racer, David will be challenging for the top positions next year you can be sure.
A major ingredient of the success of the series through 2005 has been the new competitors, some novices, some really experienced. They are all very competitive too, which is a shame for the long playing donkeys like your correspondent! Apart from the already mentioned David Tomlin and Christian Mineeff, not really a newcomer, we have been joined by Charlie White (F355), Pauline Goodwin (328GTB), Mark Buckland (Mondial 3.4t), Andrew Holman (Mondial QV), John Day (328GTB), David Hathaway F355) and, of course, making a notable return to the hills, John Swift (F355). Pauline together with Lorraine Hitchman have added immensely to the scene, both driving with great determination, bravery and skill.
With some 35 competitors in the series, I cannot possibly mention everyone
in this review as I am sure you will appreciate. Suffice to say that many
of our competitors have actively supported the club series for years and,
I am sure, like me thoroughly enjoy the general atmosphere and camaraderie
that prevails. Quite apart from the great variety of drivers it is remarkable
that we have such a wonderful selection of different tipos in action on
the hills and in our way we are undoubtedly adding something rather special
to the Ferrari scene. It is also appropriate to mention Sally Maynard-Smith,
who is stepping down as Championship co-ordinator after many years service,
but who will continue to organise the end-of-season prize-giving dinner.
Following many years of support from Ferrari UK (Maranello Concessionaires
Ltd) we were very pleased that Pirelli took on our sponsorship in 2005
and for 2006 the MSA Championship title for the series will be The
Pirelli Ferrari Hillclimb Championship.
Click here to return to the Ferrari Hill Climb Championship page.