When you clock its fat, 19-inch slicks on centre-lock race wheels, its 40mm lower ride height and all those new vents cut into familiar surfaces, you know the McLaren 12C GT Sprint is a serious car. Your heart turns over; the road-version is quick, so how quick will this circuit edition be?

The question lingers as you clamber over roll cage tubes and settle in the race bucket seat. The interior is familiar, although there’s a new instrument pack, but the shift paddles and pedals are like old friends.

We’ve got just 1.16 miles of Goodwood hillside to test this car, avoiding haybales, trees and flint walls — but one reassuring thing is that its ESP, minimised for the track, still works. Another sits in the passenger’s seat: Rob Bell, GT3 racer, good bloke and my advisor. “Just drive it, mate,” he says. “It’s an easy car.”

The GT Sprint erupts off the line, but with road-car smoothness and control. We attack the first double-apex right-hander as fast as courage permits, yet the car turns in with ridiculous ease. The tyres may be half-warmed slicks, but in road terms their grip is amazing. No understeer at all. Don’t steer so much, you tell yourself. 

Same goes for the carbon-ceramic brakes. Stay on the gas as long as you’re game into the one tough corner, Molecombe, then dab the discs — but you still stop far too easily to be quick. The car soars on, around the flint wall and farmyard and up the steeper part of the hillclimb.