Goodwood Festival of Speed

June 2009

At Goodwood for the 4th time … what a chance !

On the 3rd, 4th and 5th of July I participated to the Goodwood Festival of Speed, actually this was the 4th invitation and it was a great honour to be there again. After having been invited in 2006 with a Le Mans Ferrari 550 GT2, in 2007 with a Mercedes EVO II DTM and in 2008 with the fabulous Le Mans Viper GTS-R, I received this year an invitation with the Benetton F1 B188.

The B188s were raced in 1988 and early 1989, this model was remarkably well designed by Rory Byrne ( author from the 7 title winning F1s of Schumacher ) fitted with the 600 HP factory development Cosworth V8 DFR 3.5 liter, they finished 3rd at the F1 championship in 1988 against the unbeatable Turbo cars. This car is in wonderful running condition having been totally reconstructed with engine rebuilt by Nicholson McLaren in 2008.

Takuma Sato at the wheel for one run,

A few weeks before the event, I have been offered by the organisers to share the wheel from the Benetton with Takuma Sato for the Saturday morning run which I immediately accepted. I met Takuma on the Friday afternoon for a seat test, he felt very comfortable as we are the same height and weight.

Shortly before Takuma’s run the weather turned very bad and I decided to fit the wets. This was a rather good idea as 10min later it was raining dog and cats on the starting line. Under these conditions he drove very quietly and climbed the Hill in 65sec, the track being truly impracticable.

The F1 driver was very kind with my team and we really appreciated him, he is a real passionate about race cars and very friendly. A lot of fans came to the B188 all along the week end, when he was next to the Benetton an incredible crowd of Japanese was standing in front of us. This was nothing to compare to his come back to the paddock after the run when he went out from the car he was literally besieged by fans asking for autographs. As the car owner I even had to sigh ones !

Sato is a real star in Japan … but a great and kind guy.

Competing on the Hill Climb with the 600 HP / 530 kg Formula 1 … Banzaï !!!

Though having already experienced Goodwood’s Hill Climb with closed car as exposed above, the F1 was new to me … I then fully realised : 1st – how the track is narrow and bumpy, 2nd – how close are the bales of straw … and 3rd – how the trees are poor and dangerous barriers !!!

The Hill Climb is a very special thing in Motorsport as it’s a very short run, where driver and car must immediately give the maximum. Most of the problems come from the tyres which have track thread and are much too hard, some cars used very soft uncutted rain tyres or special hill climb ones ( like the BTCC Nissan Primera ).

I did the first runs from the Friday and Saturday slowly just to familiarise with driving a Formula 1 on such a track. Pushing hard on the last Sunday run I was able to score an interesting 49.59sec which was the 4th best time overall from the week end. With a better set up, softer tyres and closer ratios it might have been possible to be much quicker but it was a great experience ! one the more thrilling thing I’ve ever done !!!

“Kamikaze Florent” was timed at 140 mph / 225 km/h on the arrival line …

I attach some pictures from the week end and here is a link to a report about the top 5 performers from the week end you can see the B188 from 0.17min to 0.27 min and the OA times at 3.27min.

What about the event ?

The Festival of Speed is really the most fabulous car event to attend. Every year the organisers succeed in creating a new show around new topics, stars and cars. From the many outstanding things to see I would keep in memory the :

- wonderful Ferrari 312 P
- George Harrisson’s Mini from 1967
- Bertone Carabo
- 2009 Le Mans Winner Peugeot 908
- Williams F1s display with F. Williams appearance
- Porsche 917 Line up ( 13 cars on the Hill )
- 1999 Le Mans Winner BMW-LMR V12
- the incredible simplicity and kind attitude from the star drivers
- the huge respect and admiration from the public

If you have a never been there … you should try next year.

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