1/2 June 2013
This wasn’t the first European hillclimb I’ve been to but it’s the only one I’ve been to since I started competing. I first heard about Saint Goueno from Gordon Hick in the paddock at Loton Park last year. He had just done La Pommeraye and Saint-Gouéno and I thought it would be good fun to enter Saint Gouéno myself this year. However, the cost of getting legal for the French was a little too much for me (new helmet, Hans device, seat belts and fire extinguisher) so Jacqui and I decided to go and watch instead. Unfortunately Gordon was not to be there as last weekend he broke his diff on the start line at La Pommeraye and so had to return to Wales.
We stayed about 25 minutes away in the medieval hilltop town of Moncontour and would highly recommend the Chambres D’hôtes A La Garde Ducale in the square. It’s a B&B in that they don’t serve evening meals but there’s an excellent restaurant opposite and a couple of good bars which also do snacks and we were always able to find a space to park right outside in the square. There’s lots of entertainment laid on in Saint Gouéno but as we weren’t staying down there we didn’t attend anything. I know those who did recommend that too.
So how was it different to going to Prescott or Loton or Shelsley? Here are some observations about how it differs from British hillclimbs;
- It was longer. 3.2 kilometers. That compares with 1.3 km at Loton Park. The road from the paddock to the start is 3.5 km and feels much longer when on foot in the midday sun. I know as I dragged Jacqui down it to see the start. If you go to watch, don’t do this; walk down the side of the track through the woods – much shorter and shadier.
- The event is filmed from multiple cameras and there’s a huge video screen at the Fer à Cheval hairpin so you can sit there and watch the cars coming up the hill on the screen long before they come into view and then watch them after they disappear from sight and head to the finish line.
- There was free wine and beer in the paddock. I have no idea why but much appreciated!
- The cars seemed to be released at shorter intervals than in the UK. I’m not sure if that is true, but it certainly seemed that cars passed you more frequently than at Loton for example.
- There were lots of families there for a day out and lots and lots of dogs. (I like dogs by the way, just that they are frowned upon at UK events).
- There were lots of food tents and barbecues and marquees like at Le Mans where you could go and have a glass of wine and see the times.
- The event went on longer in the day (but it is lighter later in France).
The newspaper I saw on the Monday morning reported 15,000 people attended but my French isn’t very good and I don’t know whether that is for the two days or each – probably for the whole weekend. Certainly there was a large number of people there, but not annoyingly so like at Silverstone for example.
The weather was very kind to us and it was a great event. The track is interesting with fast esses, sweeping curves and tight corners and you can walk the entire length if you wish. There was also a good variety of cars. For once I didn’t take any photos but I did take a video camera and when I’ve done some editing I’ll upload something. Don’t hold your breath as I’m even more an amateur with a video camera than a still camera, but if you subscribe to this blog, you’ll get an email alert when I do upload it.
If you want to know more about Saint Goueno hill climb see John Lloyd’s excellent website Hillclimb France or this French website and the following image and many more can be found on the ouest-france website.
OK, I’d better go and learn how to edit some video. Au revoir!