The 2016 edition of the Modena Cento Ore sees ace historic racing drivers Richard Meins and Chris Lillingston-Price reunited with co-drivers Tim Huxley and Keith Morris for an intense four day contest in northern Italy. The Modena Cento Ore is one of Europe‘s leading historic motor sport events, with a field of close to one hundred machines competing over four days.
Starting on 8th June on the Adriatic coast in Rimini, long a favourite of the British package tourist, the first day involves a race at the legendary Imola circuit, former home of the San Marino Grand Prix, before a series of special stages see the crews return to Rimini for the overnight halt. Day two takes in the Misano circuit on the Adriatic coast before an overnight stop in Florence, whilst the third and fourth days compirse further special stages on the undulating, flowing Italian roads and a race at another iconic circuit, Mugello, Ferrari’s Formula One test track and home to the Italian motorcycle Grand Prix, with the finish on Saturday evening in Modena, home to the legend that is Ferrari.
Once again, veteran racer, cyclist and Macau legend Richard and ace navigator Tim will be aboard the red Ford GT40 with Chris and Keith in the stunning lightweight E-Type Jaguar. For both these famous cars, the Modena Cento Ore oozes symbolism and history. Just eight days after the event finishes in Modena on June 11th, it will be the fiftieth anniversary of the GT40’s maiden win in the Le Mans 24 hour race in France. History recalls that the GT40 was conceived by Henry Ford II after his negotiation with iL Commendatore Enzo Ferrari to take a majority stake in the eponymous sports car manufacturer were called off at the the final moment when Ferrari would not agree to concede control of his beloved racing team. Henry got mad and vowed to hit Ferrari where it hurt-on the race track, and thus the GT40 was born with the express intention of beating Ferrari at Le Mans. After a couple of years of notable failures-when Ferrari continued their winning ways- the GT40 started an unprecedented run of victories in 1966. It would be a fitting way to kick off the fiftieth anniverasry celebrations with a GT40 rolling into Modena on Saturday night.
Enzo Ferrari described the E Type Jaguar as ‘the most beautiful car ever made’ when it was launched in 1960. Former motorcycle racer Chris and 1983 Safari Rally challenger Keith will be ensuring that this British icon gets plenty of exposure in the supposed home of European style. After a promising run on the Tour Auto last year, Keith, a competitive cyclist when his busy work schedule allows, and Chris have an excellent chance of victory, provided Chris doesn’t visit the first gravel trap as he did in France last year and they will also hope to be avoiding the near asphyxiation they suffered from a broken exhaust.
Before the start, Tim is displaying the realism that befits his role as a beleaguered ship owner when it comes to assessing the GT40’s chances: “A solid, reliable, trouble free run is all I ask for. I have spent around fifteen days in this car over the past few years and I think there were only three when we didn’t have some sort of problem.” The car has been totally rebuilt, hopefully clearing the brake problems which saw it retire from the lead at the Goodwood Members Meeting in March, as a result of which Richard is adopting a much more bullish and optimistic stance, as befits a shipbroker and someone who has perhaps read too much Winston Churchill and Boris Johnston: “You ask what is our aim ? I can answer in one word: Victory. Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terrors, victory however long and hard the road may be, for without victory, there is nothing.”
Taking those words to heart, Keith has already decided to play it safe and settle for second: “In view of the stated aims of our illustrious leader, we will aim for second place and become the Buzz Aldrins of the Cento Ore!”
The event starts on Wednesday 8th June and amongst the host of ultra competitive crews are former winners and Macau Grand Prix legends Mark Freeman and Mike Ellis in their potent AC Cobra, whilst plenty of other Porsches, Ferraris, Jaguars and Aston Martins will be looking to ensure that the lone GT40 on the entry list has plenty of competition.
Both cars will again be looked after by Sam and Darren, the team from Wren Sport, (Wren Sport is a division of Wren Classic Sports Car Restoration Maintenance, and Race Car Preparation). Without the additional assistance on this event of Dave “Rambo” Ramsbotham and Steve “Cool” Farthing, the team look forward to a service crew who are not just aiming to be at the lunch stop first and will therefore also have time to look after the cars on this grueling event.