HENRY CATCH POLE

CON­TRIBUT­ING WRITER

Evo - - BRIEFING -

This year evo cel­e­brates its 20th birth­day. To mark the oc­ca­sion, in this se­ries we’re ask­ing key mem­bers of the team to re­call their most mem­o­rable evo mo­ments Tell us your ear­li­est evo mem­ory I was 16 years old and Bruce, my best friend at school, brought in a copy of this new car mag­a­zine with a sil­ver Maserati 3200 GT on the front. It might sound fan­ci­ful, but it was af­ter read­ing is­sue 001 cover to cover that I knew ex­actly what I was go­ing to say to the ca­reers ad­vi­sor. What was the first car you drove for evo? A black Mini Cooper S. The sec­ond car I drove for evo was a white Mini Cooper S.

What was your first car launch for evo? The Smart For­four Brabus (is­sue 079). Not a very mem­o­rable (or good) car, but I do have mem­o­ries of the won­der­ful hair­pin roads around Sospel in the south of France and the smell of hot brakes. It wasn’t a big launch, but I re­mem­ber think­ing how glam­orous it all was. What’s the most mem­o­rable evo test you’ve been part of? The drive sto­ries are what I’ve al­ways en­joyed do­ing the most. Find­ing a jaw- drop­ping piece of road and then work­ing with a pho­tog­ra­pher to get a shot of an amaz­ing car do­ing some­thing cool is very re­ward­ing. I’ve also been very lucky to do the trips with peo­ple I con­sider friends. I think my most mem­o­rable jour­ney was with Dean Smith when we took an MP412C to Morocco and drove over the At­las Moun­tains and back (is­sue 173). Never did see goats climb­ing trees, though.

And your most mem­o­rable evo drive? My best drive was prob­a­bly in a WRC car… or a Cater­ham… or an R26.R, but un­doubt­edly my most mem­o­rable was in XP5, the dark green pro­to­type Mclaren F1 we had in our ana­logue su­per­cars test (is­sue 186). It was at night and I was chas­ing Jethro Bov­ing­don through a patchily damp Wales. He was in an F40, so it was like an early ’90s school­boy dream come to life. The F1’s head­lights were pretty ter­ri­ble and I can vividly re­mem­ber see­ing the sparks from un­der the Fer­rari as it en­coun­tered some of the more vi­cious bumps. It was in­tense, to say the least, as I think the in­surance ex­cess on the Mclaren would have bankrupted evo. The ad­dic­tive sound of the V12 was just in­cred­i­ble, though. In­deli­ble even.

Your worst evo mo­ment is…? My worst mo­ment was ac­tu­ally at the start of one of the great­est things I’ve ever done for evo. In fact, it was more like a Be­low: go­ing ral­ly­ing in Kielder For­est ful­filled a Catch­pole dream, but it wasn’t en­tirely plain sail­ing worst evening. Sev­eral months and quite a bit of my own mea­gre funds had led to the mo­ment when I fi­nally got be­hind the wheel of a lit­tle Suzuki rally car. It was the Pirelli Rally, the first round of the Bri­tish Rally Cham­pi­onship, and we were in Kielder For­est for three spe­cial stages (evo 119). The dark­ness felt all en­com­pass­ing, the ruts big enough to swal­low the car whole, and it seemed like we were per­ma­nently on the verge of hav­ing a mas­sive ac­ci­dent. I was ter­ri­fied. So ter­ri­fied that be­tween stages two and three I wanted to get out of the car and never get back in. I felt like a fear­ful fail­ure and it was hor­ri­ble. Thank­fully, the rest of the sea­son was rather bet­ter!

Tell us about the most dis­ap­point­ing car you’ve driven for evo A small yel­low thing called an Elfin MS8 Club­man. It was Aus­tralia’s an­swer to a Cater­ham, with a V8 un­der its pro­tu­ber­ant snout. The recipe sounds fun, but the re­al­ity was rather un­palat­able. The steer­ing was slow yet had al­most no lock. Try to slide the car and a spin was al­most in­evitable. It was chris­tened the Elfin safety hazard.

What’s the one car you wish you had driven dur­ing the last 20 years? I’ve never driven a Fer­rari 550 Maranello (or a 575, for that mat­ter). As it was pro­claimed evo’s great­est driver’s car in 2004 (just be­fore I joined), it feels like a small piece is miss­ing from my own evo jig­saw. One day…

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