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Goodwood Festival of Speed 2011 preview

Thu, 17 Mar 2011

Lord March has kicked off the countdown to the 2011 Goodwood Festival of Speed at the annual press preview.

The theme is Racing Revolutions - Quantum Leaps That Shaped Motorsport. Lord March said it meant a mouth-watering array of cars, celebrating tech advances such as 4wd, carbonfibre and monocoque construction.

Naturally, there are a number of anniversaries to celebrate: the centenary of the Indianapolis 500 race, 100 years of Chevrolet, the Jaguar E-type's golden birthday and 110 years of Skoda motorsport involvement.

'We'll be the main focus for Indy 500 celebrations outside the US,' said Lord March. 'We'll have more than 20% of cars that ever won the Indy 500.'

A range of other events will add the rich diversity that made Goodwood motorsport so famous. The supercar run continues, there's a Rolling Motor Show on the Thursday (with more than 23 car makers signed up) and the FoSTec pavillion will showcase eco cars.

The Festival of Speed runs from Thursday 30 June to Sunday 3 July 2011.

Tim Pollard's updates from the 2011 Goodwood Festival of Speed preview

• It's a dry day at the Goodwood press preview. Join CAR as we wonder around and see some of the cars coming to the 2011 Festival of Speed.

• What's this? A Nissan Leaf going up the hill - backwards! It's a stunt to show that it's as fast in reverse as it is going forwards. Being driven by stunt driver Terry Grant. Hampered by a 40kph limiter, it'll be removed for the festival as they seek a new, backwards speed record up Lord March's front drive.

• The press preview is like a mini festival in its own right. There can only be a couple of hundred media and sponsor guests - and a whole load of cars to ogle as they run up the hill for demo runs. We're off down to the start line to watch.

• In keeping with the 2011 theme, there are a brace of Jaguar E-types, and its spiritual successor the XKR-S making its dynamic debut. Sadly Jag aren't doing passenger rides. Must seek my thrills elsewhere.

• Bruno Senna has agreed to take me up in the Lotus Evora S. Wristbanded up, I wait for my turn, spotting some of the more interesting machinery lining up on the startline. There's some poor bundle of nerves in a Caparo T1, preparing for certain terror next to Mikka Hakkinen. The SWB Audi Quatro, a Lancia Stratos, McLaren MP4-12C, Tesla Roadster... The list goes on.

• My time is approaching to accompany Senna up the hill. He's staying in the Evora, as there's a chill in the air. I climb in, and we talk about F1, the film about his uncle Ayrton ('it's really moving, a great movie'), and his new company car: an Evora S like the one we're sitting in. 'I'll have mine in a dark colour, not yellow,' he tells me. 'I'll stand out in Monaco too much.'

• Strapped in, we inch towards the start line. I attach a video camera to capture it for CAR Online and suddenly we're off. Damn, this supercharged one is fast. We squirm as the rear wheels scrabbles for grip on the Goodwood startline. I'm pushed back hard and brace myself as we approach the first corner. I've not driven the S only the basic Evora , but it's bloody quick. That trad Lotus ride quality is intact and Senna throws the car into the corners before Goodwood House. He fluffs a couple of gearchanges, but we still hit 110mph past the house. Then it's hard on the brakes for Molecomb and we're slowed down as the hillclimb is truncated for press day. There sadly aren't enough haybales to run flat out to the top. It's quite a ride.

• The man from TAG Heuer whisks me aside to show me its original 100-year-old first car timer. It's normally kept in a Swiss museum - looks like a giant stop watch or ship's clock, and accurate to one second.

• Tag Heuer has struck a deal to time at the Festival of Speed. After the crashes in the 1990s, they won't be timing full runs or doing speed traps, but rather doing a 100m standing start - with points for the most brutal getaways. Turns out Anthony Reid scored the fastest start in a Jaguar XF-R. Of course, in Goodwood parlance that's 'the most spirited getaway.'

• Ferrari's heard that golfer Nick Faldo has bought a McLaren MP4-12C. They're desperately shunting the golfer into a 458 Italia for a run up the hill. Perhaps he'll have one of each.

• Few details emerging about the 2011 Goodwood Revival. There'll be a separate E-type-only race broken out of the TT. A 45-minute, two-driver race. And as it's the Spitfire's 75th anniversary, there'll be a special celebration at its former airbase. 'We are hoping to have a record for the most number of Spitfires in the air at one time since WW2,' said Lord March. 'We should have 15 to 18.'

By Tim Pollard