Seven am on Wednesday and the crews competing in the Modena Cento Ore left the Grand Hotel Rimini for the 100 km dash to the famous Imola circuit named after Enzo and Dino Ferrairi. Tim managed his early morning navigational error although unlike last year this didn’t require him getting out to push the car. For Chris and Keith the journey to Imola was silky smooth. However there was more drama for the GT40 crew when they reached the end of the auto strada and the toll booth. Richard had a bright idea to save time, by jumping out of the car and payed the toll on foot. However the car had not triggered the beam to register arrival and with an impatient queue of drivers behind Richard decided to push the car a few extra yards forward to trigger the beam and initiate payment. Richard pushed. Sitting in the car, Tim diligently noticed the car rolling forward and wishing to avert catastrophe released his seat belts, leapt into the drivers side foot well and contorted like Harry Houdini pushed the brake pedal. The car stopped. Richard pushed harder, and harder. Eventually they sorted themselves out and proceeded through the toll to the track.
Once both crews arrived at this legendary track, Imola, and after a few practice laps, the cars formed up in number order, E-type 6th, GT40 18th… RIchard complained that they must have made a mistake, they hadn’t, all the E-types were together at the front of the grid. An eventful first lap saw Chris bumped by an out of control Lotus Elan and then had the remaining race in the company of the Cobras. Richard scythed through the field to third by the end of the first lap and then built up an unassailable lead by the end over the E types, the Cobras and one Lotus Elan. The end of race saw Richard in first and Chris in 6th. A solid start to the day.
Leaving Imola it was then straight into the serious business of the Special Stages. The four stages today were more suitable to the nimble cars, Lotus and Porsche. But Chris and navigating legend Keith set a solid tone to the day finishing 10th on stage one. Richard with pace note virgin Tim, a car that didn’t want to get going out of the slow corners and Richard stopping half way through thinking he’d reached the end of the stage still finished 5th. After one race and one special stage: GT40 1st overall and E-type 6th.
Three more special stages followed. Special Stage number two: Chris 11th, Richard 14th, Overall: Richard 3rd, Chris 7th. Special stage three: Chris 2nd, Richard 7th, Special stage 4: Chris 6th, Richard 7th. The last stage being very wet and slippery (We didn’t think it would be raining in Italy in June). After an arduous run back to Rimini over very narrow broken up roads we both finished the day with cars intact and at the sharp end of the grid. The overall final results of the day show Mark Freeman 2nd. But just 8 seconds behind are Richard and Tim in the GT40 and 4th Chris and Keith snapping at their heels a further 23 seconds down. Ahead and in 1st lies last year’s winner and BRDC member Philip Walker in an E- type.
To complete a relatively trouble free first day was a real result, and to find both the GT40 and the historic CUT 7 E-Type both at the sharp end on their Modena Cento Ore debut is a great achievement. It’s only one day into a four day marathon and there will be plenty more action starting tomorrow at the Misano race track and the subsequent special stages before the crews arrive in Florence on Thursday evening for dinner in the incredible 1299 built Pallazo Vecchio. Hopefully today’s luck will hold and both crews will make further progress up the leader board tomorrow. But for tonight a drink in the Max Mara boutique in Rimini was the reward for a long day in the car, prosecco and a designer dress was all on offer, so we went next door for a beer….