MARANELLO FERRARI CHALLENGE
2001 SEASONAL REVIEW
It's been a pretty good season for the Challenge, perhaps not one of
the all-time greats but there were lots of things to keep drivers and
spectators entertained. Grid sizes were satisfactory, with an average
of 23 starters per race, with the highest being 31 at Brands Hatch and
the April Castle Combe race.
took place at nine different circuits and, thankfully, because the far
greater prevalence of modern tipos had regained us respectability in
the eyes of Ferrari, two of these events were the very high profile
Spa Ferrari Days and the Brands Ferrari Festival.
Nathan Kinch did
most of the winning, taking six outright wins, with Ian Hetherington
taking three and John Seale two. Alan Cosby, Fred Moss and Gary Culver
were the other outright winners. In the "C" class (for 355/Chs)
Gary Culver was the best, with nine victories out of the 13 races he
entered, with Robin Ward winning two and Fred Moss, David Ashburn and
Tony Jones taking a win apiece.
In the "O"
class (for largely standard cars) Richard Smeeton swept all before him,
with eight wins out of the nine he contested, and then came John Swift
with two wins and Simon Bartholomew, Steve Young and Terry Esom with
one win each.
Only two drivers
started all 14 races: Ted Reddick and Robin Ward, but no one finished
them all. The most number of laps out of a maximum possible of 147 were
completed by Reddick and Ward, who did 133 each, followed by Phil Nuttall
on 121 and Richard Stevens on 120.
class really suffered during 2001 with very low entry levels. There
was an average of only three cars per race and only 12 drivers raced
in it during the year. The class has been restructured for 2002 with
sub-divisions for older and newer tipos, which will split the much quicker
360s and 355s away from the older 308/328s. We hope that people will
hear this call to arms - the cars are all out there in garages gathering
class was the real success story of 2001. The 355 Challenge car can
provide exciting racing and is generally very reliable. The formula
of a great basic car with standard engine and gearbox, coupled with
modified suspension and big brakes plus lower weight really works. As
the cars get older we need to keep standards of preparation and presentation
up to scratch. An average of twelve 355/Chs started each race and there
were even 15 of them at the June Donington; no less than 26 drivers
raced in this class during the year.
Putting the new
360 Challenge cars into Class "S" was definitely the right
decision. An average of eight cars started in this class during 2001,
with the older modified cars (the late "M" class) gradually
fading away as the logic of running factory-prepared modern racing cars
overcame the romanticism of persisting with, in some cases, 25-year
old tipos. With a bit of adjustment to the 2002 Regulations we hope
to see the return of an F40 or two and also the first appearance of
the exciting 550 Maranello. There will be several more 360/Chs out next
year. Great stuff.
Our main sponsors
this year were Ferrari UK and Pirelli, both of whom will remain with
the series in 2002. For their tremendous support we thank them, as well
as our other sponsors, who include Ricardo, Deutz Champagne, Wilkinson
plc and The Wine & Beer Company . As always, the PMFC would not
have happened without the hard and conscientious work of Anne and John
Swift, who organise and run the series, John May, the MSA scutineer,
and many others who contribute towards the success of the series. Our
thanks to them all.
Of the 53 different
drivers who took part in the Challenge this year it is simply not possible
to mention everyone due to space constraints, although undoubtedly every
single one of them would have had a good story to tell. So let us wrap
up this review by just mentioning a few names who caught the eye at
O & C) "The Entertainer". David has real pace and a steely determination.
However he is not the finished article just yet. There are too
many spins and incidents to mount a serious title challenge where
consistemcy counts. If he settled down a little would the pace
disappear? Only time will tell. He will certainly keep the opposition
on their toes in 2002 if he transfers to a 360Ch as expected.
Bartholomew (Class O & S) Until this season Simon had
lacked a certain commitment to racing which showed in his driving.
This year there was much more focus. He had a very interesting
year racing no fewer than three different cars - F355 Class O,
360 Class O and 360Ch in Class S. In both 360s he was on or not
far off the leading pace. Had he continued next year we might
have seen further improvement. As it is he is having a year out
of competition so we will have to wait to see.
Carman (Class C) "Rod Almighty" was his nickname in
hillclimb and sprints. Well, not quite yet in PMFC. Rod is quite
quick but has thrown away good class positions too many times
this year. His once pristine car has also had its fair share of
knocks which may indicate overdriving. Talented no doubt, one
to watch - maybe.
Cosby (Class S) This should
have been Alan's year. His 512M had more power and the transmission
gremlins seemed to have been beaten at last. Make no mistake,
this car is a winner on paper. With more "focus" Alan could have
taken the title which he and the Shiltech team would have deserved
for their many years of endevour. However the commitment required
for pre-event testing was not there. Brands was a perfect example
-where Alan got quicker all week-end, but with other drivers having
tested prior to the meeting this was just not good enough to take
Culver (Class C Champion) "We are not worthy, we are
not worthy". What can you say about this first-class competitor?
Everything about the way Gary and the family Culver go racing
is top notch. A real credit to the series in every way. Is there
a weak link? I can't see one yet. His transfer to Class S in 2002
with a 360Ch will be interesting. How about a ticket for Culver
v Moss v Ashburn all in 360Chs - form an orderly queue behind
Hetherington (Class S Champion) He wins his class in
1999 only to have it taken away in the courts. He wins his class
in 2000 and does not get the credit he deserves because he was
racing an F50 against supposedly lesser tipos. He wins his class
again in 2001 and still I suspect that he is not getting the credit
due to him. What has the man got to do ? Is he a Moss or a Culver
- no maybe not. BUT, does he have silly offs - No. Does he have
accidents - No. Can he put in consistent excellent perfomances
- Yes. Can he pull out something extra when required - Yes. Is
he still improving - most definitely Yes. Ian deserves his titles
and a great deal of respect from his fellow competitors.
Jones (Class C)
In many ways Tony is the Rookie Of The Year. He has graduated
through our track days and also Club Fiorano and 2001 was his
first season's racing. He has shown real pace, and what is more
exciting he drives very "quietly" which suggests there is more
to come. I suspect that he is yet to realise how good he could
be - watch his progress in 2002 - a Class C champion?
Kinch (Class S) On most occassions Nathan has simply
blown everyone away this year - often by a long way. He has looked
a class above the rest. Oh, to be nineteen and talented with the
support of family and friends! He and his team have been good
company and have gone racing in a most stylish way. Nathan is
heading for bigger things and we all wish him well in the future,
although he will have a much tougher time as he remains largely
untried at those exalted levels.
S) Peter has been a great supporter of our series for many years
with his much modified 308GT4. Prepared by Shiltech the car has
been generally reliable and fast. Peter has also become a good
racer who one suspects could do quite well in a more modern tipo.
However, he has decided to further modify the GT4 to race in the
Inter-Marque championship. Latest plan is a heavily modified 348
engine mounted longitudinally, coupled to a Hewland gearbox. Sounds
like a big hole down which to throw lots of money.
Moss (Class C) I have included Fred, even though he
has hardy raced with us this year, for just one reason. Fred is
QUICK - full stop. I watched him frankly embarrass some pretty
big names at Donington in a GT2 Porsche in the streaming wet earlier
in 2001. He is thought to be buying a 360Ch for 2002. This would
give us some great racing at the head of the field.
Nuttall (Class C) Phil's racing was all about fun with
good competition in good company. He was quite quick at times
too. This is what our club racing series should be about. The
"win at all costs" prima donnas, who spend more time keeping quicker
drivers behind them through weaving than they do trying to put
in faster laps, need to go elswhere - who needs it ? Come back
soon Phil, we need more like you.
Smeeton (Champion Class O) With little competition
from similar cars it is hard to assess Richard's class-winning
season. There can have been little joy in his achievement for
the same reason. When there was some serious competition, at Spa
against a similarly equipped Simon Batholomew, things all got
rather fraught and the contest became a barging match.He could
struggle in Class S next year with his newly acquired 360Ch.
Stevens (Class C) Under the guidance of Robin Mortimer,
Richard's driving has improved a good deal in 2001. However there
may be some way to go yet before he sees regular podium placings.
Like many other of our less experienced drivers I suspect that
he may have more fun when he realises that the joy of motorsport
is not all in the winning. Having bought Gary Culver's championship
winning 355Ch, along with all the set-up data, he has put himself
under a lot of pressure for next year.
Ward (Class C) Despite all the distractions of operating
Damax Race Engineering and its multitude of rent-a-drivers, Robin
has managed to progress this year and his drive at the wet 'Ring
was one of the best of the year. He is also modest enough to accept
instruction, which is quite rare, and this certainly helped him
at Snetterton. He is now a genuine contender for Class C honours
in 2002 if he sticks to this class.
to return to the Club Racing Series' page.
pace but incident-prone: Ashburn
may be one to watch
testing would serve Cosby well
team have been good company
Championships for Hetherington
top notch competitor
Jones was the Rookie of the Year
racing was all about enjoying it, and going quick
and Shiltech had a good and reliable season
with Ward, did the most laps in 2001
respectability in Ferraris' eyes allowed the PMFC back to Spa's
should have been the 512's year
Maranello Championship was earned all the way
class-winning drive at the wet 'Ring was one of the best of the
year: Robin Ward
improved greatly but will face a tough year in 2002
suddenly made his mark Simon will now take a sabbatical
dominated the O-class and moves to a 360/Ch next season
everything and car troubles as well brought Swifty a trying season
2001 finally seen the back of the old cars?