Harewood Hillclimb


After an early season shakedown at Harewood Hillclimb in Yorkshire, Abarth UK kicked off its celebrity media motorsport programme with a class win last weekend. This came courtesy of Autocar’s Matt Rigby, during Bognor Regis Motor Club’s well supported Sprint at Goodwood circuit near Chichester.

The team’s two immaculate Abarth Grande Punto esseesse cars formed part of a 94-strong entry, and were driven to great effect by four members of Autocar’s editorial team, led home by Rigby who finally won the standard car class, just 0.4 seconds ahead of team mate Ollie Stallwood in second place.

Rigby’s previous motorsport experience, limited solely to endurance go-karting, provided ample encouragement for his team mates, who nevertheless just failed to eclipse the young road tester, who sportingly attributed his success to the forgiving nature of the Abarth Grande Punto. “It was a joy to drive around Goodwood circuit, and I was able to improve my time by over three seconds on the final run – just enough to stay ahead of Ollie!”

A series of hillclimb events now await the team as it prepares for Doune, near Stirling, in Scotland on 20/21 June; Shelsley Walsh (Worcester) 4 July; Gurston Down (Somerset) 19 July, and Harewood (Yorkshire) 2 August. Abarth UK’s motorsport season closes with another Sprint at Thoresby Park, Nottingham, on 12 September.

Ivan Gibson, head of the Abarth brand in the UK, says: “This programme was devised with the basic idea in mind that an enthusiast can enjoy competitive club motorsport with an Abarth road car at the weekends, while using it normally for all domestic duties during the week. We’re delighted that Autocar was able to provide our first team this season, and congratulate Matt Rigby on a great drive.”

The Abarth Grande Punto esseesse, which is available through Abarth’s 16-strong UK dealer network, is powered by a 180bhp 1.4-litre turbocharged T-Jet engine which delivers 272Nm of torque at 2750rpm through a six speed gearbox. Top speed is 133mph, with 0-62mph acceleration in 7.5 seconds.

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