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Tuesday 3rd July 2012

Goodwood from the driving seat: a novice's view

Riggers has been popping his Goodwood FoS cherry. What better way than in a unique Jaguar and a £400K Nissan Juke? No pressure then...



Saturday 1pm
I arrive at the Goodwood camp site. I have nowhere particular to be for a couple of hours, but I head straight into the festival for a wander.

Camera loves Jag. It does not love Riggers
Camera loves Jag. It does not love Riggers
Wow. This place gets more like an outdoor motor show every year. In 2012 it looks like somebody's lifted the contents of an entire hall of the Geneva motor show and dropped them wholesale into a field in Sussex. Except it's better than that, because motor shows don't have racing cars of every creed and colour tear-arsing though the middle of them.

"It's like a funfair, only with cars" Sebastian Vettel tells the festival commentator, describing his first taste of the FoS. You're not wrong there, Seb - heck, the Mini stand even has dodgems.

Saturday, 3pm
Time for a brief chat with touring car aces John Cleland and Rob Huff, both of whom are driving Chevrolets up the hill (a Camaro and a Corvette Z06). There's a genuine camaraderie between these two that reminds you professional motorsport is still all about passion, even in these days of corporate line-toeing - Cleland jokes that Huff was 'a bit rubbish' when he started out in touring cars, while Huff has a gentle dig about Cleland's crash at the FoS back in 2008. In among the banter and hero worship (I grew up idolising Cleland and Huff is just, well, a damn fine WTCC driver) there's a bit of advice, too - watch out for Molecomb (the off-camber left-hander) being the main point.

Astra VXR drive was not to be...
Astra VXR drive was not to be...
Saturday, 3.30pm
Crikey, signing on as a driver at Goodwood is weird. Normally when it comes to sign-on at motorsport events (especially sprints and hill climbs) it's a case of queuing up to present your credentials in a draughty shed. But this is Goodwood, so you sign on at the drivers' club, which you access via a red carpet and a be-bouncered gate. For anybody used to the more earthy nature of grass-roots motor sport it's a surreal experience.

Saturday, 6.30pm
Sadly my first-ever run up Goodwood Hill (set to be in an Astra VXR) is cancelled, following a crash by a Gumpert Apollo. Any miffed-ness is put into perspective when we hear the passenger has had to be taken out on a spinal board. I later learn she's all right, albeit unable to drive for a week.

Group 44 E-Type is the stuff of dreams
Group 44 E-Type is the stuff of dreams
Still, it's an opportunity for the Vauxhall to try out a PH smiley or two for size.

Sunday, 8.45am
So. As fate would have it, my first ever run up the fabled hill climb is in a unique racing Jaguar E-Type. A car with hand-cut slick tyres and a reported 450hp going to its rear wheels courtesy of a V12 fed by four Stromberg carburettors. And when I wake up at half-past five in the Goodwood camp site I find it is raining. Hard. Gulp.

My nervous excitement barely abates when I arrive in the Cathedral Paddock and am squeezed into the deep bucket seat by Jaguar Heritage chap Dave Withers. The side of the roll cage pressing hard into my shoulder reminds me that this a car I do not want to hit a hay bale in, while the ferocious bark from the four side-exit exhausts (two either side) remind me that this is a car with a lot of poke. And, on a damp track, not a lot of grip.

V12 is extraordinarily loud
V12 is extraordinarily loud
After what seems an interminable wait, we trundle up to the start line, a marshall points me in the direction of the green light, and I'm off. The wheels spin on the damp surface all the way through first and second gear, and the roar from the exhausts is almost overwhelming. I have no clue whatsoever how much grip the tyres will offer, so I brake hilariously early for the first few corners - especially the treacherous off-camber Molecomb - but that does at least allow me to accelerate earlier.

And what an experience accelerating in the Group 44 car is. There are only four gears, which would lead you to expect relatively long gearing, but such is the power of the V12 (combined with the 5000-ish rpm limit recommended by Jaguar) that I get comfortably into fourth as we reach the top of the hill.

Chubby bloke poses next to pricey Nissan
Chubby bloke poses next to pricey Nissan
Then that's it. In a minute or so it's all over. But I've managed to get up without embarrassing myself, and I've learned that Bob Tullius's 1974 SCCA racer is a truly wonderful machine. Plus I get to drive it back down the hill again. Brilliant.

Sunday, 1pm:
Having had an hour or so to enjoy the sights and sounds of the cars running up the hill, it's time to go again, this time in the awesomely wacky Nissan Juke R. Oddly, I've had to go and sign on again, as this car is in the Supercar class, which this year actually requires a full race licence - whereas driving the Jaguar only needed a sprint/hill climb permit.

My passenger for this run is the 18-year-old Jake Hill, who's been racing since he was 15 and already has 20-or-so victories to his name. "It really is quite oversteery" he tells me, politely but firmly suggesting we keep the ESP on. He'll get no argument from me.

Juke R cuts an unusual figure
Juke R cuts an unusual figure
The upright Juke R couldn't be more of a contrast to the Jaguar. It pulls away from the line with little fuss, but immediately the boost from its twin-turbo 485hp V6 flings it forwards, and I'm grabbing away at the column-mounted gearshift paddles. Pitching it into the first corner there's a little wiggle from the rear. Its short wheelbase and relatively tall stance make it dartier than a GT-R would be and I'm genuinely glad of the stability control, as there's certainly very little room for error here.

It's a chuckable little thing, though. Kind of like you'd hope a modern Group B homologation special might feel, and gives me enough confidence to keep the throttle open all the way up the last part of the run. I don't have any idea what sort of time I've done and no, I doubt it was quite as special an experience as Monkey had in the Porsche 962, but it raises more than the odd smile. It certainly draws plenty of admiring glances from the crowd on the way back down though, even with a tyre-smoking GT500 Mustang wheelspinning its way along behind us.

Wacky Juke feels almost like a rally car
Wacky Juke feels almost like a rally car
Sunday, 6pm
Time for the off. It's been a fun two days and - even more than the obviously awesome opportunity to drive some genuinely cool metal - a reminder of precisely why Britain is a Mecca for car fans. Because everywhere I've been I've met knowledgeable, friendly and passionate car people. Forget the Olympics. The Festival of Speed is my sporting highlight of the summer.

Riggers
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Author Discussion

Denorth

Original Poster:

440 posts

51 months

[news] 
Monday 2nd July 2012 quote quote all
it is just awesome! I had my first ever run up to the hill in Toyota GT86 and I wish I could do it several times a day for a month every year smile in many different cars

toppstuff

10,051 posts

127 months

[news] 
Monday 2nd July 2012 quote quote all
I did'nt know Matt Lucas worked for PH.

He's a dead ringer !

Riggers

1,851 posts

58 months

[news] 
Monday 2nd July 2012 quote quote all
toppstuff said:
I did'nt know Matt Lucas worked for PH.

He's a dead ringer !
Sadly neither as funny nor as wealthy, however :-D

Mostyn

13 posts

48 months

[news] 
Monday 2nd July 2012 quote quote all
Ah riggers so this was you driving the JukeR on Sunday then.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMdT68RtsBM

Life Saab Itch

36,563 posts

68 months

[news] 
Monday 2nd July 2012 quote quote all
Good to meet you Riggers.

That Group 44 car was so loud!



Remember that article I mentioned...
Advertisement

Mini1275

10,107 posts

62 months

[news] 
Monday 2nd July 2012 quote quote all
Great write up.

I stood next to the Group 44 Jag whilst it was warming up early Saturday morning. What a sound earscloud9.

Super Slo Mo

2,876 posts

78 months

[news] 
Monday 2nd July 2012 quote quote all
It's funny, I don't recall the Juke R coming up the hill. Was it at the same time as Chris Evan's cars were at the top?

I was in the slightly lucky position of being able to wander at will around the cars parked in the 'loop' at the top (and had a great time over the weekend), but when the supercars etc were up there on the Sunday afternoon, I stayed out of the way because of all the attention going on around Chris and his Ferrari collection.


MagicalTrevor

5,243 posts

109 months

[news] 
Tuesday 3rd July 2012 quote quote all
toppstuff said:
I did'nt know Matt Lucas worked for PH.

He's a dead ringer !
Was just about to suggest that somebody break out the Photoshop wink Sorry Riggers tongue out

TonyHetherington

31,747 posts

130 months

[news] 
Tuesday 3rd July 2012 quote quote all
Nice work, you lucky bugger biggrin

thetapeworm

5,381 posts

119 months

[news] 
Tuesday 3rd July 2012 quote quote all
Denorth said:
it is just awesome! I had my first ever run up to the hill in Toyota GT86 and I wish I could do it several times a day for a month every year smile in many different cars
Likewise, it's an experience I won't forget even if I can't remember a lot of the specific details due to extreme concentration - I can't imagine what it would be like to go solo in a 450bhp classic on my first run though, especially with a crowd wanting to be pleased smile

The Wookie

9,849 posts

108 months

[news] 
Tuesday 3rd July 2012 quote quote all
Good stuff Riggers! Have to say when I did it in the GT4 car last year I was pretty star struck in the drivers' club; queuing up for grub next to Walter Rohl amongst many, many other driving heroes!

thewheelman

2,194 posts

53 months

[news] 
Tuesday 3rd July 2012 quote quote all
Is it wrong that I'm really starting to like the look of that Juke?

StefanVXR8

3,047 posts

78 months

[news] 
Tuesday 3rd July 2012 quote quote all
thewheelman said:
Is it wrong that I'm really starting to like the look of that Juke?
No, I didn't like them either but that R is just special, in fact I've even started looking at normal Juke's in a different light now! eek

Will never own one but have a fraction more acceptance for them now.

Stef

Dr G

10,672 posts

122 months

[news] 
Tuesday 3rd July 2012 quote quote all
I hated reading every sentence of that abomination of an article...



...but only because 2012 has been the first year in ages I couldn't go cry

Riggers

1,851 posts

58 months

[news] 
Tuesday 3rd July 2012 quote quote all
Dr G said:
I hated reading every sentence of that abomination of an article...



...but only because 2012 has been the first year in ages I couldn't go cry
You had me worried for a second! Just get you ticket booked early for next year, I'd say! thumbup

mazdaman1980

74 posts

84 months

[news] 
Tuesday 3rd July 2012 quote quote all
After such a fantastic event which i am sure Pistonheads had a full press pass to as did i, i am suprised there is such a limp write up and the same goes for the photography.

Whats happened???

jason61c

1,291 posts

54 months

[news] 
Tuesday 3rd July 2012 quote quote all
Super Slo Mo said:
It's funny, I don't recall the Juke R coming up the hill. Was it at the same time as Chris Evan's cars were at the top?

I was in the slightly lucky position of being able to wander at will around the cars parked in the 'loop' at the top (and had a great time over the weekend), but when the supercars etc were up there on the Sunday afternoon, I stayed out of the way because of all the attention going on around Chris and his Ferrari collection.
MMMM... who were you working for as we were the host OB?

herebebeasties

285 posts

99 months

[news] 
Tuesday 3rd July 2012 quote quote all

Super Slo Mo

2,876 posts

78 months

[news] 
Tuesday 3rd July 2012 quote quote all
jason61c said:
MMMM... who were you working for as we were the host OB?
Arqiva. 3d and 2d radiocams.

jason61c

1,291 posts

54 months

[news] 
Wednesday 4th July 2012 quote quote all
The mighty Arqiva! Thats who I work for, I wondered who was doing the RF this year as it wasn't the normal company.
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