If you’re not at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this Sunday, you’re going to miss what is likely to be the most spectacular piece of driving at the South Coast’s famously car-crazy estate in 15 years.
Sébastien Loeb, the world’s most successful and most versatile driver, will make an attempt on the hillclimb course record in the specially built, 875bhp, 875kg Peugeot 208 T16 he used a year ago to smash the hill record at the 12.4-mile Pikes Peak course, near Colorado Springs in the US.
On that occasion - which I witnessed from a perfect vantage of a couple of miles short of the finish - Loeb chopped a cool 90 seconds off the previous best. He also remarked, soon after finishing, that the car was so quick, and the sheer drops beside the narrow course were so scary, that he probably wouldn’t be doing it again.
This weekend the nine-time WRC champ has somewhat less scope for carving great chunks out of the record. Nick Heidfeld's 1999 record Goodwood run occupied a fleeting 41.6 seconds, and his McLaren MP4-13 averaged 100.385mph - on a single-lane road intended for farm vehicles, flanked in several places by avenues of trees (scenic at 15mph; threatening at 150mph), which at one point jinks right-left-right past a flint-walled farmyard that is home to some of England’s best-kept chickens.