I’ve just got back from Prescott where I had an entry in the Italian Marques invitation class at La Vie en Bleu, the Bugatti Owner’s Club annual celebration of French automobiles which this year incorporated La Vita Rossa to include Italian marques. This Panda opens doors!
I forgot to mention in my write up of the sprint at LLandow that when I arrived I had a big ‘thumbs up’ from one of the organisers, who came over and explained that he used to have Fiat Panda 100HP and had been to Le Mans in it. He loved it. He also pointed out that mine is a limited edition of the already rare 100HP, identifiable by its red brake calipers, side stripes and colour-coded wing mirrors, though he could not remember what it was called. The same thing happened this morning, a couple of people came over to talk and said they were members of the 100HP club and mine was a special edition called a Pandamonium. I like the fact that I have a limited edition 100HP and a limited edition GT86; I know how many Giallos were made – 86. I wonder how many Pandamoniums there are.
Anyway, back to the hillcllimb. The day started very cold, blustery, damp and misty. I was expecting rain not only because it is a bank holiday weekend but because it rained yesterday and the forecast for today said rain was likely. So yesterday I changed my wheels and tyres. In the rain. I took off the R888Rs, which are really road legal track tyres, and put on the other set which Laurence included when I bought the car off him. In fact the set comprises two Proxes T1-Rss and two Avon ZV3s. I put the Proxes on the front for no other reason than I had started before I realised they weren’t all the same. I can’t say they appeared much better in the wet than the R888Rs though. Standing water would probably be the test, but I never saw any.
It was so misty at Prescott this morning that the marshals could not see between marshal posts at the top of the hill which made signalling difficult and racing dangerous. So we waited for the mist to clear. It didn’t so I wandered around videoing some of the cars. There were about 180 in the paddock and hundreds more in the spectators car park. The following video is just a few minutes in my corner of the paddock…
Eventually the organisers decided to ditch the first practice runs but to offer everyone a slow convoy run instead. By the time the mist had cleared and we could take our proper second practice runs, it was almost midday and the marshals agreed to forego their lunch break and run straight into the timed competition runs.
The track on my practice run was damp and I did a time of 62.45 which I was fairly happy with for a first run up Prescott in a front wheel drive car. It understeers a lot and is totally different to the MX5, Formula Ford, Lotus and GT86. By the time I had my first competition run (I was number 172, right at the end of the running order of 182 cars), the mist had gone, the track was dry and the sun way shining. England is a weird place. I improved my time to 60.44 and regretted having changed the tyres yesterday. Those track tyres would have been perfect. Then, talking to the guys from the 100HP club who had been watching me, I decided that on my third and final run I would carry more speed into Pardon Hairpin and go around in second gear rather than first. It was worth the try but ultimately proved slower at 61.63. However, I was happy with 60.44 and am looking forward to the HSA rounds at Prescott on 23 and 24 June (if i get entries of course).
Here are some photos.
This was the mist at the bottom of the hill.
Who doesn’t like Abarths?
This was early on before all the spectators arrived and the music and dancing girls started. Prescott does know how to put on a good show.
Four very different cars. How did that Aston get parked there amongst the Italians? Actually five very different cars as I’ve just noticed my 100HP in the background.Lancia I think. Interesting Italian machinery was popping up everywhere.
As usual at Prescott there were things for sale. Shame about the weather.
These were in the car park. Love them both. I used to pass a Lancia Fulvia Sport (I think some people call them Zagatos?) on my walk to school many moons ago and always fancied one. Fiat Coupes are also on that wish list. A two litre turbo would be nice.
Also in the car park… another 100HP. A bit tidier than mine.
And another and two nice Series 1 Pandas. I was to meet the owners of these later.
There were plenty of Ferraris to drool over. This particular one was my favourite. This was in the spectators’ car park.
Looking at these three, I’d choose the Alfa over the Maserati or McLaren any day. Not only has it got soul, it is driveable.
And it’s pretty.
When do you ever see a Bugatti? And then there are two! The blue one is a new 1,479 bhp Chiron and the other is one of those old Veyrons.
The first Ferrari La Ferrari I’ve ever seen. Astonishing engineering and design.
A nice atmospheric shot of my friend Jonathan Plowe in his Fiat Abarth X19 Prototype waiting to go to the start line.
It was great to meet these Panda HP100 enthusiasts and I’m looking forward to seeing some of their photos.
Finally, something not Italian. A 1928 mid-engined Austin 7 special. There are many remarkable things about this car, but for me the most remarkable is the positioning of the fuel tank above the engine and behind the driver’s head.
I’m now having a break from hillclimbing and sprinting as next weekend we’re off to Italy in the Toyota GT86. I don’t suppose we’ll see as many exotic Italian supercars over there as in Gloucester today.