For 21 years, Lord March and the Goodwood House have been giving Britain’s auto enthusiasts an awe-inspiring motoring display in the way of the Goodwood Festival of Speed (FoS). The 2014 event was no different, attracting what is easily one of the most diverse and legendary group of road and racecars to ever be assembled to the estate’s lush, sprawling property in West Sussex. The weekend was filled with racing action on both the hill climb course and the rally circuit, and Motrolix was lucky enough to be on hand to witness it all.
Arguably the highlight of the Festival of Speed was the Michelin Supercar Paddock. The cars completed timed runs up the hill all weekend, which was a first for supercars. Stealing the light of the show were the much talked about hybrid hypercars, the Porsche 918, Ferrari LaFerrari and McLaren P1. However there is no doubt that show goers also enjoyed the multitude of other exotics in attendance, including the Koeniggsegg One:1, Ferrari F12 TRS, Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series and Pagani Huayra. The fastest time of the weekend for the supercar class was set by GT Academy winner Jann Mardenborough in the Nissan GT-R Nismo N-Attack. Mardenborough jetted up the hill in a short 49.27 seconds. It should be noted that none of the three hybrid hypercars completed flat-out runs up the course.
The Festival of Speed is much more than modern day supercars, however. The theme for this year’s event was ‘Addicted to Winning – The Unbeatable Champions of Motor Sport’, which brought out some of the most famous and winningest race cars of all time. These included Ayrton Senna’s 1988 McLaren-Honda MP4/4, which won 15 of that year’s 16 F1 races, the Sauber-Mercedes C9 Le Mans winner from 1989, and the 1989 Audi 90 Quattro, among countless others. Seeing legendary race cars like these speed up the hill is undeniably special, as often times they used as static display pieces. Only at Goodwood can you see Senna’s old F1 car race up the same hill on the same day as Emerson Fittipaldi’s Penske-Mercedes Indy 500-winning Indycar. For a car enthusiast – it’s heaven.
Of course, no one wants to see a crash at Goodwood, but they’ve been known to happen in the past and provide some extra entertainment for spectators. This year saw an Alfa Romeo 4C run too wide at the hillclimb course’s notorious Molecomb corner and slam into some hay bales. Olympic gold-medalist turned racing driver Sir Chris Hoy also had a rather large shunt when carrying too much speed into the Molecomb bend, slamming the Nissan GT-R Nismo he was driving into the hay bales with enough force to set the airbags off. Thankfully, both drivers in the separate incidents walked away unscathed.
Often overlooked at the FoS is the rally stage. The loose-surface track snakes through the forest on the Goodwood estate and provides fans with some of the most action-packed racing all weekend. This year, several well-known rally cars from history participated in the rally, including two of Colin McCrae’s Ford Focus WRC cars, a Lancia 037 Evo 2, an MG Metro 6R4, and the famous Audi Quattro GP4. WRC driver Sebastien Loeb, driving his Citroen DS3 WRC car, battled it out with Dani Sordo in his Hyundai I20 WRC for fastest time of the weekend on the rally stage. After an intense time attack battle, Sordo walked away the winner, setting an aggregate time of 7 minutes 49 seconds – the fastest time around the rally stage in FoS history.
The fastest time up the Goodwood hill all weekend was set by Sebastien Loeb in his Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak car after the WRC champ raced it up the hill in a blistering 44.60 seconds. This wasn’t quite as fast as Nick Heidfield’s all-time record at the track set in 2003, a 41.60 second run done in a McLaren MP4/13 F1 car, but is unbelievably quick for a non open-wheel car. Perhaps that record will be broken at next year’s event, and maybe we’ll be on hand to witness it.
Oh, and the 2015 Ford Focus ST was also unveiled and raced up the hill climb at FoS.