Glorious return to Goodwood
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The attention of the motorsport and automotive worlds are focussed on a 1.86km stretch of narrow tarseal in the West Sussex countryside this weekend.
The annual Goodwood Festival of Speed on the short hillclimb course racing past historic Goodwood House will showcase the cars and stars from motorsport history as well as new and future models from manufacturers who leverage the festival as a moving motor show.
Reigning world champion Nico Rosberg will be a Goodwood star attraction as he gets back behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car for the first time since retiring from the sport at the end of 2016.
Rosberg will participate in Mercedes-AMG 50th anniversary celebrations at Goodwood, driving his 2014 Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport F1 W05 Hybrid up the hillclimb course on Sunday.
Other Formula 1 world champions on the FOS provisional entry list include Sir Jackie Stewart who is set to drive his title-winning Matra and Tyrrell cars, Emerson Fittipaldi who will drive a McLaren M23 along with Damon Hill and Alan Jones.
The theme of the 2017 festival is ‘‘Peaks of Performance — Motorsport’s Game Changers’’ and among the rarities to be driven on the hill this year are the 1978 Brabham BT46B ‘‘Fan Car’’, the 1952 Indianapolis 500 pole-winning Cummins Diesel Special, the unraced prototype Audi Group S rally car and a 1937 Mercedes-Benz W125 ‘‘Silver Arrows’’ grand prix car.
Special celebrations include events to mark the 70th anniversary of Ferrari, a 50-year celebration of the Ford-Cosworth DFV Formula 1 engine and a line-up of cars and drivers representing 40-years of racing by the Williams F1 team.
Renault’s 1977 debut of the first turbocharged F1 car will also be marked and Robert Kubica, Rene Arnoux and Jolyon Palmer are among Renault’s line-up of drivers.
There will also be cars — including three race-winning Audi prototypes — that celebrate Tom Kristensen’s record of nine victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
For two-wheel racing enthusiasts the festival drawcards include multiple world champions Giacomo Agostini and Freddie Spencer, current day Isle of Man TT stars Michael and William Dunlop and 2017 Dakar Rally motorcycle winner Sam Sunderland.
A timed hillclimb shoot-out is a regular part of the Goodwood weekend but the competitive element of the festival has continued to expand this year.
In 2016 the festival introduced a secondary competitive section with a British Touring Car Championship shoot-out. This year the attention switches to modern GT cars with Aston Martin running its Vantage GTE-Pro racer along with GT3 machines from Bentley and Lexus and McLaren’s new 570S GT4 racer among the confirmed entrants.
And the festival continues to propel the sport of drifting the spotlight with a competitive Drift section being introduced for the first time. Kiwi drift star ‘‘Mad’’ Mike Whiddett is among the six invited drivers along with 2016 Formula Drift world champion Chris Forsberg.
Whiddett is one of two New Zealanders on the provisional FOS entry list published last week. Isle of Man TT racer Bruce Anstey will ride his Padgett’s Motorcycles Honda RC 213V-S.
The Goodwood Festival of Speed is now in its 24th year and continues to be one of the biggest events in the motoring calendar with organisers expecting to welcome over 150,000 guests from all over the world.
*The Festival of Speed runs from June 29 to July 2. A free livestream can be viewed via the Goodwood Road and Racing YouTube channel.