Glorious Goodwood offers up a festival of speed marking 120 years of motorsport

The event has become the British motor show in all but name as it attracts car and bike fans from across Europe to the estate of Lord March

Wed, Jul 2, 2014, 09:44

This year marks the 21st anniversary of the Goodwood Festival of Speed, an event that attracts elite racing drivers from all corners of motor sport but also a large coterie of the motoring public. It is in effect the British motor show in all but name.

There’s no other event on the motor sport calendar that comes close to the spectacle that’s hosted by Lord March annually on his grounds at Goodwood House in West Sussex, England. Fans can get close and personal with historic race cars and motorcycles, and also see modern supercars drive up the famous hill climb stage. You can be guaranteed to meet some current Formula One and world rally drivers, along with some greats from the past glory days of racing.

Each year there is a central theme to the event, 2014’s festival theme was ‘Addicted To Winning - The Unbeatable Champions of Motor Sport’. One of the true legends of motor sport was in attendance, John Surtees who celebrated the 50th anniversary of his 1964 Formula One Championship title. John remains the only man to win world titles on both two wheels and four. All the key manufacturers had immense stands showcasing their range of cars, with many taking to the hill in timed and un-timed runs. Mercedes-Benz celebrated their 120 year involvement in motor sport, while Maserati choose the event to mark their centenary.

Among the many new cars unveiled at this year’s festival was Ford’s new Focus ST which made its global debut. The Focus ST was first launched in 2002, Ford has sold in excess of 140,000 models since then. It may have been somewhat overshadowed by the numerous multi-million euro cars, many being displayed in public for the first time, nevertheless it was capable of holding its own on the tricky hillclimb section.

For the first time ST customers will now have the choice of two engines, a petrol and a diesel engine. The 2.0-litre turbocharged Ecoboost petrol engine produces 250hp and 360Nm of torque, it’s mated to a six-speed manual transmission. Fuel efficiency has been improved by six per cent over its predecessor, offering a combined consumption of 6.8L/100km (41.5mpg). The diesel Focus ST variant has a 2.0-litre duratorq TDCi engine under the bonnet. Power is a respectable 185hp with 400Nm of torque. With these performance figures we would see this ST challenging the Skoda Octavia RS diesel, Volkswagen’s Golf GTD and the Seat Leon FR diesel. Ford claims a combined fuel consumption for the diesel-powered ST of 4.4L/100km (64.2mpg).

The new Focus ST is available as a five-door hatch or a five-door estate. Both body styles come equipped with a sports body kit, unique headlights, newly styled grille and front and rear bumpers and new 19” alloy wheels. This new ST sits lower and wider then its precursor, the twin-hexagonal centre exhaust pipes remain. The interior changes are subtle, the three gauges remain seated on top of the dashboard, angled towards the driver. They display the turbocharger’s boost pressure, engine oil pressure and engine oil temperature. Three trim grades are offered, ST1, ST2 and ST3, each one identified by their seat fabrics and colours.

Ford’s engineers have reworked the ST’s suspension to improve the driving experience, with new front springs and anti-roll bars. Unfortunately we weren’t granted a test drive in this new ST, so we’ll have to reserve our judgment on how it really drives and handles until we get the opportunity to test this new hot hatch on the open road. It’s not set to appear in Irish dealerships until early 2015.

The sun played its part on this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, along with many legends of motor sport who truly embraced the spirit of this year’s theme. It’s a remarkable event, attracting drivers and riders from all corners of the globe, Ireland was well represented with stunt rider Mattie Griffin who thrilled the crowds on his BMW F800 R.

Griffin was awarded with a trophy for being the most entertaining motorcyclist at the event. Dubliner Robert Barrable demonstrated his skills on the purpose-built rally stage in his Ford Fiesta R5 rally car, taking time out of his busy schedule rallying in the ultra-competitive WRC-2 category. The fastest man and machine up the Goodwood hillclimb over weekend was nine-time world rally champion Sébastien Loeb. Loeb drove the 875hp Peugeot 208 T16, the same car he used to take victory at the famed Pikes Peak hillclimb last year.

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