DRIVER PROFILE – ANDY SHERRATT
Like it or not, most of us with an interest in speed hillclimbing are branded as ‘petrol heads’. Far fewer of us can claim that their earliest memory is of their parents’ car, but the recollection of sitting in the family turquoise-and-white Austin Metropolitan has remained with Andy Sherratt since he was around three years old. As well it might…
Fast forward to the first car that Andy owned, and the marque Austin turns up again, and this time it’s a diminutive A30, but as Andy points out, “It may only have had 28 bhp, but you could still power-oversteer it!” Not that that driving style will be of much help with Andy’s competition car, a 20 valve, 2 litre, turbocharged Fiat Coupé.
Andy was for many years a marshal at Harewood, but when three years ago he decided that he had to change his ‘everyday wheels’ (the aforementioned Fiat) after 11 years ownership, he thought that rather than sell it for peanuts, it might as well become his hillclimb machine. So here it is, still going strong, road-legal and driven to meetings but nowhere much else. The mileage? A rather astounding 194,000 miles, still with the original engine, turbo and gearbox and it’s only ever let Andy down once! From the forgoing you’ll have deduced that it’s not been greatly modified; in its first year of competition it was absolutely standard, in the second it received uprated suspension and finally for year three Andy had the engine mildly ‘chipped’ to give a claimed extra 20 bhp. In theory this meant that the engine produced 240 bhp, but more realistically probably only puts back what the mileage has taken out!
Andy prepares the car himself, and due to time constraints, limits himself to meetings at Harewood. He has no plans to modify the Fiat much further, because as he says, “With front-wheel-drive and 65% of its weight over the front wheels, it’s never going to beat the Evos, no matter how much I spend.” So what are his goals? To keep striving for new personal bests, recently set at 70.35 secs, and to try to arrange things so that the magic 200,000 miles comes up somewhere on the hill at Harewood. Get ready to tell the spectators, Mr Wilkinson!