Primo PLC-sponsored team would be occupying more than half the road.
Arriving early at Shelsley Walsh, teammate David Finlay and I were able to bag a top 30 place in the signing on queue. This means an extra practice run was guaranteed on the Saturday and we needed all the experience possible.
Hopping into the lavish leather driver's seat for my first run, I had no idea what to expect of the S8. Previously, Mr David (as my teammate is now known in hillclimbing circles) and I reckoned a 35-second time up Shelsley's 1,000-metre course would be admirable.
By the end of the day, the jokes about a wrong turn on to the start line and the chauffeur not telling the owner where his car was came to a halt. The S8 went from a joke turn to star turn.
I have to acknowledge some superb help and advice from Peter Cox, who was running in his Subaru Impreza in our A2 class. Peter is also an instructor at Shelsley Walsh's driving school and took the time to walk up the hill and show us the right lines during the lunch break. Without Peter's wisdom, we wouldn't have been nearly as quick.
There were even more raised eyebrows come Sunday and the competition runs. Despite a scrappy first run, the S8 shot off the line to the 64-feet timing beam in just 2.01 seconds, which is 1g of acceleration. For my second run this dropped to 1.99 seconds and, with a tip-off on best starting practice, Mr David recorded 1.98 seconds. That's an incredible time for a limo on road tyres, even if the S8 has 520hp from its twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8.
My second run was far more enjoyable as the correct lines had sunk in and I concentrated on pushing the car rather than just keeping it on track. The S8 would initially feel like it was understeering into the hedge, but then it settled and gripped. Out of the Esses, the rear would step out a little, but the length of the Audi made it easy to catch.
So, was the big Audi the right choice after all? It was perfect for us to enjoy a weekend's motorsport in absolute comfort and raise awareness of the Nationwide Association of Blood Bikes. It also generated more conversation and amusement than any other car we've competed in, so job done in the least likely hillclimb car out there.
Watch the video here.
[Photos: Rich Danby]