It may have been my first trip to the Goodwood Festival of Speed last weekend, but I’m already pretty sure it's going to be one of my best.
I was lucky enough to be offered a passenger ride up the famous hillclimb in a Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano HGTE - and some experience it was, too.
My driver was Ross Kaiser, who has won a race at Donington the day before in a Radical SR8. Ross was told before he set off to drive at “seven tenths” and take things easy. But when we approached the start line and Ross put the HGTE into race mode, I knew it was going to be quite a memorable ride.
Our slot was after the Ferrari California, which had NASCAR legend Rusty Wallace in the passenger seat. The cloud of smoke from its rear tyres had barely cleared by the time we got to the line.
By the first corner, Ross had turned all driver aids off. The car didn’t roll around the corners and the handling and grip seemed spot on – the optional HGTE package seemed worth the extra money from the passenger seat at least.
What I didn’t appreciate was how narrow the course was. You have to get your lines spot on or face the embarrassment of sticking £200k plus worth of supercar into the straw bails.
The two highlights of the ride were the first five seconds, as I felt the Ferrari V12 pull the car away, and going past the famous flint wall. It really is tight up there – so no margin for error – and the light change was also quite striking, enough to catch lesser drivers out.
Perhaps the best bit of all though was not the ride itself, but the paddock assembly areas before and after. Seeing two Bugatti Veyrons and a Zonda amongst other things – not least the other Ferraris – sitting in the paddocks having the engines revved was a breathtaking and memorable experience.