Would St Ives be the perfect town to host a British equivalent of the Monaco Grand Prix? It’s a question nobody has ever asked, but PetrolBlog was determined to find out. So we borrowed the aptly-named Skoda Citigo Monte Carlo and headed west.
OK, ‘perfect’ might be overplaying things a little: there are coastal towns and cities more capable of hosting a F1 Grand Prix. But who said anything about Formula One? The choice of car for this trip is telling, because PetrolBlog believes it should be a race of city cars. A frantic and frenetic tour of St Ives in tiny chariots, with an emphasis on first and second gear, along with plenty of handbrake action.
A car like the Skoda Citigo Monte Carlo. Right now, this is one of PetrolBlog’s favourite new cars at any price. Not only does it look a million koruna, it’s also an absolute riot to drive. You can read the full review over on Motoring Research, but in short: we adore the way it looks, sounds and handles. It’s also a relative bargain.
Crucially, the Skoda Citigo is small enough to thread through the narrow streets of St Ives and you don’t need to be driving fast to have fun. Put simply: it would be PB’s choice for the inaugural St Ives Grand Prix.
Imagine a starting grid consisting of the rear-engine, rear-wheel drive Renault Twingo SCe, along with the Fiat Panda, Suzuki Celerio, SEAT Mii and Volkswagen Up. PetrolBlog is imagining just that and it’s far more exciting than a group of F1 cars lining up in Monaco.
Because the Citigo’s 60hp 1.0-litre engine feels so at home in St Ives, we’d suggest a maximum 1000cc for entry into the St Ives GP. No mechanical upgrades are required, but cosmetic enhancements would be permitted. That said, the Citigo Monte Carlo looks just about perfect in standard form.
Think of the St Ives GP along the same lines as the GTI Club video game. Naturally, PB would also propose a St Ives Historic Grand Prix weekend, featuring the likes of the Mini Cooper, Renault 5 Gordini, Citroën AX GT, Autobianchi A112 and Mk1 Volkswagen Golf.
Quite what the residents of St Ives would have to say about this idea is anyone’s guess. But it’s fair to say it stands very little chance of getting off the ground. Dammit.
Not that this minor detail stopped PetrolBlog from selecting the ideal route through the town. What you see here is a one-mile lap of St Ives, starting and finishing at the Barnoon long stay car park, high above the town. The lap also includes cobbled sections, tight bends and a stretch that runs alongside the harbour. Who needs Monaco?
We did half a dozen laps of the town, never breaking the speed limit and rarely shifting up beyond second gear. It was an early morning in November, so traffic was light and the conditions were perfect. Just imagine the streets lined with advertising hoardings and spectators. Wonderful.
What makes St Ives the ideal location? Well its coastal location obviously helps, but the section from the RNLI lifeboat station to the other side of the harbour would make for a fine spectacle. The pubs and restaurants would be filled with onlookers, while giant grandstands could be erected on the beach.
There’s also a series of technical sections away from the seafront, with tight corners, damp cobbles and camber changes guaranteed to keep even the most skilful drivers on their toes. Going flat out won’t win the race, but momentum would be key to success. F1 races can send you to sleep, but the St Ives GP is guaranteed to keep you awake.
Sounds good, right?
Monaco might be dripping in wealth, glamour and heritage, but St Ives is dripping in pasties, sandcastles and seagull poo. It’s also a Bernie Ecclestone-free zone.
Oh, and by the way, if you’re in the market for a city car, you really ought to consider the Skoda Citigo Monte Carlo. It’s like a modern-day Citroën AX GT. Yup, it’s that good.
Charley says… don’t race around St Ives and always tell your mummy before going off somewhere.