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Porsche and the 2017 Goodwood Festival of Speed [w/video]

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Article by John Mayhead
Photos and video by Mayhead Media except where noted
Lead image: Porsche 911 RSR Turbo, second overall at Le Mans in 1974

2017 marked the 25th running of the Goodwood Festival of Speed, which has now become the de facto British motor show. Started as a hill climb up the drive of Lord March’s West Sussex country house, the Festival is now a four-day motoring extravaganza. There’s everything here: contemporary open wheel racing cars, pre-war Bugattis and Bentleys, a concours sponsored by Cartier and even a forest rally stage. There are stands selling beer, rides for the kids, and paddocks full of the most weird and wonderful cars with open access for all of the nearly 400,000 visitors who attend. The hill climb still takes center stage, but these days it’s a combination of timed runs, crowd-pleasing showboating, and manufacturer demonstrations of brand-new cars.

Above: Porsche 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series on display at the Porsche booth.

Many of the large car manufacturers created huge multi-story stands that dominated the infield, but Porsche’s presence was subtler — though there was no shortage of Stuttgart’s finest. There were Porsches everywhere: I counted no less than three 919 Hybrids, including the car that won at the 24 Hours of Le Mans two weeks previously. There were 918 Spyders dotted around the various stands and the paddock was seemingly full of 917s and 911s.

Above: The Porsche 919 Hybrid that won Le Mans this year.

The hill climb included some fascinating Porsches from the company’s racing history. In dedication to Le Mans legend Tom Kristensen, the 3.0-liter twin-turbo WSC95 that he drove to a debut Le Mans win in 1997 took to the track. The Mark Donohue Porsche 917/30 Can-Am in Sunoco decals delighted the crowd by putting all of its 1,500 horsepower through the tires.

Above: Porsche 917/30 Can-Am racer. Photo by Stephen Mosley.

The Martini Racing stand displayed a group of fascinating cars, including a 1970 917K, Herbert Müller and Gijs van Lennep’s 1973 911 RSR that won them the final “proper” Targa Florio, and a 911 RSR Turbo that came second overall in the 1974 Le Mans. Close by was the Porsche Carrera Cup stand, showing off next season’s GT3 Cup car. I opened the door: A normal 911 door handle and latch mechanism masked the extraordinary lightness of the carbon-fiber door, which shut, of course, with a reassuring clunk. This is still a Porsche, after all.

Above: Martini Racing booth at Goodwood 2017.

Much as Porsche’s back catalogue of historic race cars is important, the company is all about selling new cars, and it made the most of the festival to help achieve this aim. The highlight was the unveiling of the new 911 GT2 RS, at 700 hp the most powerful 911 ever built. At first glance, it looks like a GT3 RS, but details like NACA ducts on the carbon-fiber hood and the revised front and rear fascias with exhaust tips poking out of the rear bumper give it away. It was joined by the Turbo S Exclusive Series, billed as a luxury version of the GT2 RS, and driven up the hill by Carrera Cup winner Paul Rees.

Above: Porsche 911 GT2 RS driven by Walter Röhrl.

Another new Porsche was shown in the First Glance area, a showcase for unveiling and displaying new production models. This was the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid, a car that, with a list price of $184,400, costs $34,000 more than the Panamera Turbo, but with even better performance (0-60 miles per hour in 3.2 seconds) and fuel economy (81.1 US miles per gallon based on New European Driving Cycle testing).

With glorious sunshine throughout the weekend, the English country house venue of Goodwood was hard to beat. If you’ve never been, put it on your bucket list.

Watch the video below.

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