A lime-green Jaguar XKR going sideways? Lewis Hamilton doing doughnuts in his McLaren F1 car? Electric supercars with names you can’t pronounce silently speeding past you? It can only be the 2009 Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Lord March’s annual motorsport extravaganza has come to an end for another year on his famous Sussex estate. None of the 150,000 plus show goers this year were likely to have gone home feeling disappointed after one the most varied and action packed motorsport celebrations on the calendar.
One of the main highlights of the weekend was the Sunday Times Supercar Paddock, which had one of the most impressive hot-metal line ups ever seen at the festival. There were UK debuts aplenty – Ferrari California, 599 HGTE and Scuderia 16M, Pagani Zonda R, Porsche Panamera, Nissan GT-R V Spec, Citroen GT, Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport and the beautiful chrome Veyron Pur Sang.
The real supercar stars up the hillclimb though were three home-grown heroes. Jaguar’s Mike Cross put in an expert sideways display in the lime-green Goodwood special XKR, while Derek Bell slid the Bentley Continetal Supersport he was piloting onto the grass on several occasions. Completing the trio was the Jaguar XFR, which managed to record 225mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats in the US last year.
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In its fifth year, the Forest Rally Stage provided plenty of action for those brave enough to climb to the top of the steep hillclimb. Never a man to leave records unbroken, Sebastian Loeb set the stage’s fastest ever time in his Citroen C4 WRC car. On Sunday, his team-mate Daniel Sordo also provided entertainment on the asphalt hillclimb with a series of tyre-wrecking doughnuts.
Modern day WRC cars weren’t the only rally cars on show, however. Three Audi Quattros, a Peugeot 205, two Metro 6R4s, a Toyota Celica Twin Cam and a Ford RS200 were some of the Group B highlights, while British heroes Colin McRae and Richard Burns were remembered with their Ford Focus and Subaru Impreza WRC cars being entered.
One of the most interesting parts of the festival was the FoS-TECH pavilion tucked away in the paddock. Here in this emporium of technology was a real glimpse for British car fans into an alternatively fuelled future. With concept cars usually the reserve of far away motor shows, this was an up close and personal chance to witness some rather extraordinary engineering first hand.
The hybrid Renault Ondelios was perhaps the most striking concept car here. Its gullwing doors, 23inch wheels and futuristic interior will be take-home memories for many fans. Other FoS-TECH hybrid highlights included the Frazer-Nash Namir supercar and Infiniti’s sleek looking Essence, both of which also took part in the hillclimb.
Another FoS-TECH gem was the Toyota Prius, which had been cut in half lengthways to reveal its hybrid technology. Hybrid is a word often spoken in the car world nowadays so the chance to see the tech in action and have it practically explained and demonstrated was an insightful opportunity.
The hillclimb action itself was a unique experience for any motorsport fan to witness. Aside from the modern day F1 and WRC action, festival goers were treated to Le Mans cars – including this year’s Peugeot 908 HDi, Audi R15 TDI and Lola-Aston Martin LMP1 – touring cars, classic GT and F1 cars, motorbikes and Daytona Speedway racers.
And what Goodwood Festival of Speed isn’t complete without Formula One drivers doing doughnuts? Despite doing some in both his McLaren F1 car and a bright-orange McLaren-Mercedes SLR, Lewis Hamilton was upstaged by Toyota’s Timo Glock.
Making his first appearance at the show, Glock was in his element away from the strict rules and regulations of his day job as he regularly paused along the hillclimb to do burnouts, as well as numerous doughnuts, in front of Goodwood House.
There didn’t seem enough hours in the day to pack in everything there was to see at the festival. The highlights were plentiful - Sir Stirling Moss driving the McLaren-Mercedes SLR baring his name, Frank Williams’ 40 years in F1 being commemorated, NASCAR legend Rusty Wallace charging up the hill in his Dodge Charger, Jesse James’ antics in his 7.2-litre V8 Trophy Truck, the extraordinarily rare collection of classic cars in the Style et Luxe paddock, Chris Evans’ seven Ferraris and the Porsche 917 display – to name eight.
But the best thing? The thought of next year’s festival being even better. With rumours of the Forest Rally Stage being extended, another British F1 world champion (Jenson Button) to salute and ever-evolving future car technology, Goodwood 2010 could well eclipse 2009 as being the best festival yet.