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Need for speed

Posted: 6th December 2016

Ultimate Driving at Goodwood, review by Henry Ascoli

 

Speed, power and beauty in the Sussex Downs…

Ever since it first opened its gates to the public nearly 70 years ago, Goodwood Motor Circuit has proved a thrilling and fascinating track for so many reasons.

Legends including John Surtees, Sir Jackie Stewart and Sir Stirling Moss have all taken to the hallowed tarmac, and in more recent times wheel-to-wheel racing has returned to the circuit in the form of the iconic Revival Meeting.

For any petrolhead, driving the Goodwood circuit is not simply another track day, it’s a chance to experience its history and heritage first-hand – an opportunity not to be missed.

 

After a week of nervously checking the forecast, come Friday morning, glorious sunshine greets us as we arrive at the circuit. Eager to get started, we begin with some low-grip activity in one of the latest MINI models, its stiff suspension and low centre of gravity offering plenty of fun on the wet surface. Powerslides, hand brake turns and j-turns are among the morning’s activities – safe to say a little different to a Friday morning in the office! While difficult to master, by the end of the session our understanding of the car’s behaviour in such conditions is much improved, only serving to strengthen our desire to get out on track…

Following a safety briefing, we meet our designated instructors for the afternoon’s three 20-minute sessions, before finally gaining a glimpse of the performance line-up – the powerful BMW M Series fleet and, tucked away at the back of the grid, the hybrid revelation that is the i8.

At first glance, Goodwood appears a relatively simple track to drive – the sweeping first corner (Madgwick) and the final chicane are, on paper, the main challenges. Yet the moment I get behind the wheel, under the guidance of my instructor, Goodwood’s many intricacies become apparent – miss one apex, get your braking point wrong, fail to get on the throttle fast enough, and not only does this compromise your corner, your sector, but your entire lap. This is a circuit with no margin for error.

Take any of the M Series cars out on track and they are sure to impress, not only for their speed and power, but sheer grip. Concluding my session, my instructor shows how it’s done with two full speed laps in the M6, its 4.4 V8 twin power turbo growling all the way.

But for me, the ultimate highlight of the day was the chance to not only witness, but drive, the beautiful i8. Explosive acceleration and revolutionary efficiency are two phrases not usually seen alongside one another on a car’s specification, but the combination of the electric motor and petrol engine make this one of the most innovative sports cars in the world. Combine this with the iconic Goodwood circuit and you have something truly unique, an experience to savour.

From car clubs to corporate days, Goodwood Driving Experiences offer much more than a track day. Professionalism and attention to detail throughout - but above all, exhilarating fun.

Goodwood Road & Racing, 01243 755055, ticketing.goodwood.com