In Review

Goodwood Festival of Speed 2018 review: a grand day out

Racing heroes, motorsport machines and hi-tech jet packs make for thrilling show

Few events can match the adrenaline-fuelled thrills on offer when Formula 1 drivers and racing legends congregate at the annual Festival of Speed. 

The Chichester-based celebration of all things fast came to a close on Sunday, leaving fans counting the days until the 2019 festival. 

Each year, the Duke of Richmond, Charles Gordon-Lennox, invites racing drivers and car collectors to put on a show at what is one of the most popular car events in the world. 

With a weekend pass to the festival, as well as a fantastic viewing spot near the start line courtesy of Rolls-Royce, The Week Portfolio checked out the highlights of this year’s extravaganza. 

Porsche at 70

Porsche is marking its 70th anniversary, so the legendary sports car brand was centre of attention over the four-day event.  

A  170ft-high star-shaped white structure adorned with six of the company’s iconic cars, including the 911 R and 918 hybrid hypercar, took pride of place outside Goodwood House, and provided the centrepiece for birthday celebrations featuring fireworks and music.

Porsche fans also got the chance to see historic machinery from the company’s museum, such as the Le Mans-winning 911 GT1 from 1998 and the extreme 919 Tribute. Arguably the most special vehicle on display was the LMP2000 prototype car, which was due to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans 18 years ago until the project was pulled. The display at the Festival of Speed marks the first time the car had appeared in public, although a sprint up the hillclimb was off the cards. 

There was, however, a snag in Porsche’s celebrations. Porsche Carrera Cup driver Dan Harper crashed his 911 GT3 Cup car into the back of five-time Le Mans winner Derek Bell, who was driving the company’s iconic 962C, shortly after crossing the finish line at the top of the hill.

Neither driver was injured, but both cars sustained significant amounts of damage and could not take part in the celebrations in front of Goodwood House.

Volkswagen’s record-breaking I.D. R

It’s hard to believe that the car which set one the fastest time in Goodwood’s hillclimb would also be one of the quietest. 

Volkswagen’s all-electric I.D. R stunned racing fans at the Pikes Peak hillclimb event in Colorado last month, smashing records on the 12.4-mile course with a time of seven minutes and 57 seconds.

Goodwood’s uphill stretch isn’t quite as long as Pikes Peak, at 1.16 miles, but it’s still a twisty route with almost no run-off. But with Pikes Peak record holder Romain Dumas behind the wheel, the I.D. R set a time of 43.86 seconds - the fastest time ever for an electric car at the Festival of Speed. 

Although blisteringly quick, Dumas wasn’t able to beat the record set by former Formula 1 driver Nick Heidfeld in 1999. Heidfeld recorded a time of 41.6 seconds in a McLaren MP4/13 F1 car. 

Into the FutureLab

The Goodwood festival isn't just about cars. The FutureLab experience gave attendees an insight into cutting-edge technology that may one day feature in our lives.

Speaking to The Week Portfolio, Goodwood’s commercial chief Tracey Greaves said: “If last year was a church to tech, this year really was a cathedral.”

She isn’t wrong. Fans were treated to a man flying a jetpack up the hill, as well as an appearance from the autonomous Roborace car. There was a mix of non-automotive gadgets, too, including a robotic cocktail maker and a host of VR experiences.

Asked why tech companies are so vested in an event the centres around cars and motorsport, and Greaves said: “We’ve seen is that car manufacturers look to acquire new audiences by activating increasingly outside the automotive sphere, and likewise tech brands like to be exposed to new audiences outside of the tech world where they can showcase their technologies in new and exciting ways.

“Take Siemens as a strong case in point at this Festival of Speed. Together with the University of Cranfield, they designed and built bespoke technology to adapt a classic 1965 Ford Mustang to drive up the Goodwood Hillclimb autonomously. It was a first for us and a powerful way for Siemens to show they do a lot more than make household appliances.”

Tickets for next year’s event have not yet been released, but you can register your interest on Goodwood’s website and will receive alerts when they go on sale.

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