Nine-time World Rally Champion Sebastian Loeb triumphed in the Goodwood Festival of Speed shootout on Sunday after he set the fastest time up the famous hill climb run in his Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak.
Pre-run expectations were that Loeb could challenge Nick Heidfeld’s 15-year record up the hill, although Loeb played down his chances ahead of his final run. Having smashed the Pikes Peak record last year by a whopping 90 seconds, many felt both he and his specially modified racer had enough to beat Heidfeld’s run of 41.6s.
But it wasn’t to be, as Loeb’s time of 44.6s fell short of the McLaren F1’s time back in 1999 – when tyre warmers and modern F1 cars were allowed unlike today.
Loeb did enough though to hold off the challenge from Michael Bartels in the Maserati MC12 ‘Goodwood Cent 100’ and Kenny Brack in the McLaren F1 GTR ‘Long-tail’.
GT Academy product and Michelin Supercar Run winner Jann Mardenborough finished the shootout fourth in a Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 – the race version of the supercar crashed by Olympic gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy on Saturday – while Didier Sirgue took the fastest F1 accolade as he took the Jordan 191-Ford up the hill.
With Honda set to return to F1 next year as they take over engine supplier duties for McLaren, they Japanese manufacturer unveiled their newest concept versions of the Civic Type-R and the NSX.
They also marked the occasion with the McLaren Honda MP4/4 taking to the hill climb, with the famous F1 that saw Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost win 15 of the 16 grand prix’s in 1988 gracing the track once again.
A packed field of bikes also featured on the Goodwood bill, with Isle of Man TT legend John McGuinness showing off the Honda CBR1000RR that competed on the mountain earlier this month – still with the hole in the front fairing caused by a kicked-up stone.
In what is quickly becoming an unmissable event held on what is essentially the driveway of Lord March’s Goodwood House in West Sussex, the Festival of Speed is always a sign that F1 is about to return to its spiritual home ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix.
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton was at the festival on Sunday, as was fellow F1 driver Kimi Raikkonen while Jenson Button was in attendance the day before. Hamilton will be hopeful that he can swing the momentum in the F1 drivers’ championship back in his favour, although he faces a stiff challenge to overhaul team-mate Nico Rosberg this weekend having only won once in seven attempts at the British Grand Prix.