ROUND 2 : Bouley Bay: 25 April 2011
by Richard Prior
The PFHC have been looking forward to a Bouley Bay return ever since their last visit two years ago. Some drivers want to try to break the Ferrari class record, for others it’s a great excuse for a family holiday and for Andrew Holman it was time to get the Jersey Casualty Dept out of his mind and complete the meeting in one piece.
Most of the 14 competitors who were queuing up for the Good Friday fast ferry at Poole harbour had been to the hill before and knew what to expect, but Sean Doyle and Chris and Lorraine Hitchman were first-timers thrown in at the deep end.
It was also time to try out another new hotel, after the owner who looked after us so well during our previous visit had moved to the Hampshire Hotel in St Helier (handy for the shops, but a shame it had a smaller car park). As well as the Ferrari Fleet there were extra cars to accommodate from Brian and Jenny Jackson, the Priors, Doyles, Spicers and of course Holman’s East Anglia fan club.
We were down by one Ferrari before we started as John Marshall’s 308 GT4 restoration back home was still in progress, so he shared the 328 GTB of wife Wendy. Also during the trip to Jersey Mike Spicer suffered gear selection problems in his 328 and without 1st and reverse gear would have found it near impossible to even get to the start line. He was spoilt for choice as others offered a shared drive but he jumped into Richard Prior’s 355 GTB which he has owned and used here before.
The only downside was that these two shared cars were isolated down at the bottom paddock with the single seaters, but the view was good. Not many drivers took the chance to walk the track on the morning of the event but having been on the island for four days all had walked it and driven it in hire cars while the road was still open to the public. This is the only venue on our calendar where you can recce the course by car any day of the year!
First practice started carefully for the Ferraris. John Marshall and Mike Spicer followed the Rally car and 'bike class to the start line and recorded 56.28 and 55.47 seconds before turning around at the top and leading the rest of the Ferrari Class back down to the harbour side starting area. There’s a lot of manoeuvring to get 14 drivers turned around and facing back towards the start and the lovely (but strict!) primary school teacher/paddock marshal Emma managed it without stress or damage.
Richard Prior topped the time sheet with 51.91 but Nick Taylor (348 GTC) was only three hundredths behind and Richard Allen (355) less than one second adrift of Taylor making up the top three.
Sean Doyle (GT4) was brimming with confidence before even seeing the hill due to plenty of You-Tube clips online, but thankfully he now had the cautious respect that this place deserves and clocked 56.46 on his first attempt (despite not listening to advice about the first corner coming up quickly and had a lucky escape when he didn’t hit his braking point and had a close look at the ‘Spicer Shed’). Lorraine Hitchman (328) was on 64.68 but was caught out by the steep start line and took 4.56 seconds to get to 64ft and husband Chris Hitchman in the 355 GTS went up in 61.57.
Second Practice saw most people improve by one or two seconds, and Lorraine Hitchman by almost four. Early leader Prior made only a small improvement to 51.65 while Nick Taylor had jumped ahead of him with 50.36. Jon Goodwin was also now making ground on the leaders and was in third place on 51.68 using the power of the 550 Maranello.
Lunch break was called but only for 30 minutes due to a few stoppages and accidents in the 'bike and Karting class and the road must reopen to the public at 6.30pm. This gave Spicer and Prior just enough time to visit their families at the top of the hill in the spectator enclosure (grassy hillside!) before running back down to their communal car in the paddock.
When the competition runs started John Marshall clocked a useful 55.10 in the 328 (but slower than his second practice) and Mike Spicer had 51.72, which was to be his fastest of the day, despite increasing amounts of tyre warming and spectacular plumes of smoke for the spectators. Prior wondered if there was any tread left for his run but managed to get into the lead with a 51.37.
Jon Goodwin was in third place again and previous leader Nick Taylor had dropped down the order with just 58.56 to show on the official scoreboard after over-shooting the braking point on the first corner. Wendy Marshall had her fastest run of the day on 61.76, as did John Swift (355) and Pauline Goodwin.
On the second runs Lorraine Hitchman was under the 60 second barrier for the first time and Peter Hitchman (550) also had his fastest official climb of the day on 61.89. Meanwhile son Chris Hitchman was storming away, his first run already beating his target handicap time calculated at lunchtime by the PFHC digital scoreboard, but now he pushed his best to 54.56 and collected the Club trophy for best improvement on handicap.
Jon Goodwin improved slightly to 51.92 and Nick Taylor now managed a clean run and was clearly fastest on 50.52 seconds; Prior was second with a small improvement to 51.21 but now Richard Allen was snapping at his heels in the silver 355 just two hundredths of a second behind him.
The organising club just managed to squeeze a third run in before the end of the meeting and beat the 6.30pm curfew for the road to reopen to the public.
Andrew Holman (355) performed well to overcome any previous anxiety and found 51.69, but not quite enough for a podium place but snatched fourth position away from Mike Spicer by just 0.03 of a second.
Sean Doyle was enjoying himself on the hill finishing on a spectacular 53.87 and the fastest ever time for a GT4 to climb Bouley Bay, deserving the award of a bottle of bubbly for Drive of the Day and a trophy for the win in the 'classic class'.
Richard Prior tried his hardest to gain on Nick Taylor and had a smooth run to end the day on 50.54 just 0.02 slower than Nick, but it was purely academic as Nick wrung the neck of the GTC and pushed the winning time to 50.04, just shy of the 49.84 second record held by John Marshall in the 430 Scuderia two years previously.
The top three on scratch were Nick Taylor, Richard Prior and Richard Allen and with the PEP factor applied they were also the top three on championship points.
Richard Prior was now leading the championship on 34 points, Nick Taylor on 32, and Andrew Holman 31 points. Andrew had the consolation prize of the fastest 0-64ft time of the day in run two, on 2.48 seconds.
It’s not always possible to return to Jersey every year due to variation in the Easter Holidays (and we probably wouldn’t want to, as early March meetings there tend to be colder and sometimes damp) but as the date falls again in April for 2012 we can be sure the happy hillclimbers will be back next year!
Next up: Harewood : 14 & 15 May (double-header).
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(unofficial) results and points.
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Pics by Andrew Holman, Bob Holmes, Holly Prior, Pauline Goodwin & Richard Prior