Held at the traditional October ‘Finali Mondiali’, the first ‘Maranello-Mugello Trophy’ proved an unqualified success. Eligible cars? Only Enzos please, and via Ferrari GB’s Fiorano Ferrari programme seven British owners had had their cars transported to Italy to join in the fun. Travelling by private jet with the ‘lucky seven’, your Editor was invited to follow the tour in a 612 Scaglietti, and ride passenger with one of the owners at the magnificent (Ferrari-owned) Mugello circuit set high in the rolling Tuscan hills.
With the decision made to hold the event just a few weeks ago, it was a fantastic effort by the organisers at the factory to assemble around 50 Enzos in total, the vast majority joining in the ‘regularity’ run that started with a timed stage on part of the Fiorano test track at Maranello and finished at the Piazza d’Ognissanti in the centre of Florence, before moving on to Mugello on Saturday evening.
Wind back a few days to the headquarters of Ferrari in Britain, and the seven cars (of only 27 originally registered in the UK) were being checked over by technicians and liveried in ‘Team GB’ Union Flags and Fiorano Ferrari logos. We’ll be featuring Fiorano Ferrari in a special article in weeks to come, but in simple terms it’s a new programme of exclusive events for Ferrari customers, with a range of driving and lifestyle activities allowing unrivalled access to the inner world of Ferrari - and it’s open to any owner.
The starting flag was raised for the Enzo celebration on Friday night at the famous Ristorante Cavallino, just over the road from the factory gates. Due to the short notice of the tour it was a shame that no more than two owners from the US could make the trip, but the next day enthusiastic drivers from France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and the rest of Europe joined our party to collect their cars from the hangar that normally houses the Scuderia Ferrari trucks at the company’s private test track, just a short distance away from the car plant.
A regularity event is a rally where the emphasis is on exact time-keeping and precision rather than downright speed, with some special ‘timed’ stages’ en route where your really do have to keep to a specified time. Equipped with Ferrari stop-watches (of a complexity that was the talk of the Ristorante the night before...) the cars took to the Fiorano track early on Saturday morning, leaving at intervals on the 170 kms journey to Florence.
The route was packed with nice touches. We were following in the big 612 Scaglietti, three-up, SW at the controls, F1A gearbox in manual ‘Sport’ setting, and the sight of an endless stream of cars (some $45 million...) leaving Fiorano, and then driving through the famous Ferrari factory archway, past the paint and engine-building shops, and then on to a twisting route that included the passes Futa and Raticosa made famous in the Mille Miglia road race of the 1950s, personified the magic of the marque.
The weather was a traditional Italian autumnal mix of fog and bright sunshine, and as the Enzos made their way up the mountain roads a vortex of vapour could be seen exiting the car’s rear venturi tunnels. The organisation was so polished that an arrival at any point on the route that could be misinterpreted by a less than able map-reader was accompanied by at least a flag-waving marshal, or very often a traffic cop stopping the flow from the other directions. No such worries for us in the sat-nav-equipped 612, carrying a system that, with some adept knob-twirling, will drop you within walking distance of your chosen destination.
By early afternoon all the Enzos were safely lined up in the Piazza d’Ognissanti, outside the five star Hotel Excelsior that was to be the stopover for the night. A couple of hours’ rest and than back in the cars for one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments: a police motorcycle escort to the Mugello circuit, some 21 miles away.
What a sight! Only the toughest of Italian traffic cops could tame a Florentine rush hour in full flood but the half-dozen or so riders did it superbly. Through red lights, making our own lanes, and driving at a brisk convoy speed, the predominantly red snake wound its way to Mugello for the dusk drive around the circuit in record time.
And on this journey we were travelling with four in the Scaglietti, and - riding in the back - I can say the car is amazingly roomy considering its svelte exterior lines, even allowing for a little forward movement of the driver’s seat. A gala dinner followed and than back to Florence for rest and relaxation before Sunday’s final visit to the circuit, where all the cars had been lined up overnight.
The Finali Mondiali is a ‘family’ event for Ferrari where several championships come to a climax (the Shell Ferrari Maserati Historics, and the final Ferrari Challenge Pirelli Trophy that mixes runners from the various worldwide series), the F1 team meets the tifosi, and new products (this year the amazing FXX and 2006 F430 Challenge car) are unveiled to an adoring audience. Schumacher and Barrichello (driving a Ferrari for quite possibly the last time) did some demonstration laps and the fans loved it all. OK, so this year wasn’t so good for the Scuderia, but the depth of support for the ‘National Team’ is unrivalled anywhere in the world.
Come lunchtime it was our turn and some 50 Enzos formed up on the start/finish line, gullwing doors skywards, to greet Michael and Rubens who screamed between the two lines of neatly formed-up cars. Then, led by four FXXs, we were allowed just a couple of pretty brisk laps before being ushered back to the paddock.
The Enzo experience? Well you can never have enough power but the 600-odd HP that the V12-powered car will push out at its 8,000 rpm red-line must be enough for most. My chauffeur was scratching at the surface of the car’s performance and in a way it’s the absence of many of the vices of its much-repeated ‘racing car for the road’ tag that surprise. It’s not noisy (we were asked by a marshal if we had the engine running!), it doesn’t squeak, rattle, bump or vibrate (the all-carbon fibre construction gives it a solidity not seen outside a Le Mans car) and it’s really roomy and comfortable, with excellent a/c and good visibility. Like Tony Dron (who drove Nick Mason’s car last year) I agree the noisiest thing about it is the mechanism that David demonstrated to change the ride-height: its banshee wail cutting over the motor growling away behind us.
Is it the most perfect driver’s road car ever built? I’d vote for it, you can tell after just a couple of laps, when David begins to unwind it along the pit straight and then starts to lean on the front wheels in the corners and uses the ceramic brakes in earnest, that this must be the ultimate, the one on the top step of the podium, perfection incarnate. The FXX has another 200 HP and sure it’s going to be fantastic - but let me remind you it’s a track car pure and simple.
So there won’t be an FXX rally from Fiorano to Mugello, and there won’t be another Enzo one either for a while. That’s exclusivity for you, Ferrari built one less Enzo that they thought the market wanted, and waiting lists for regular model new cars are as strong as ever.
As they say in show business: always leave them wanting more. And the Enzo will be one hell of an act to follow.
Editor’s Note: It was a ‘plane full of happily purring Enzo owners that left Florence for Biggin Hill, and spirits were doubly high as one of the GB teams had won third place in the competition (for the record, a French team was first overall, with a Swiss car second). While owning an Enzo may have guaranteed you a place at Mugello, only membership of Fiorano Ferrari gained access to the full VIP treatment that was the envy of others on the event. More details of the programme to come in the future, as will be full driving experiences of the 612 Scaglietti.
With grateful thanks to Ferrari GB and my fellow-travelling Enzo owners, and in particular the owner who most generously gave me the ride around Mugello.
For more information on Fiorano Ferrari visit www.ferrari.co.uk
Story by Steve Wakefield
Photos courtesy Ferrari GB - Strictly Copyright
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