When I rocked up to my first MSA hillclimb event at Prescott in the Seat Ibiza Cupra, it took me a whole minute to convince the entrance security staff I was a competitor.
“What, you’re going up the hill in this?” asked the gatekeeper after I’d said we were car 51. I could see his colleague peering through the window at the completely standard and luggage-filled interior. “Yeah, we’ve got paddock passes,” I replied, slightly bemused by their doubts.
In the paddock, it soon became clear why the entrance staff were surprised to see an unmodified 16-plate Ibiza Cupra turning up to compete. Specialised single-seaters, classic formula cars and other highly modified racers sat side by side in their paddock slots. Roll cages and semi-slick tyres abounded. I’m going to come plumb last, I thought.
It’s very odd watching an MSA scrutineer check over a nearly new road car, and even odder having to slip into a fireproof race suit to drive it. All that done, I lined up ready to face the hill, dampers set to Sport and stability control very much still on.