McLaren-Mercedes rising star Nick Heidfeld annihilated the outright record for the 1.16-mile Goodwood Hillclimb course in a thrilling climax to the seventh annual Festival of Speed on June 20.
Driving Mika Hakkinen’s 1998 World Championship-winning MP4/13, the 22-year old German slashed 3.4sec from Jonathan Palmer’s 1996 mark, leaving it at 41.6s an average speed of 100.38mph. “I could have gone faster, under 40 seconds would be no problem,” he said.
While Heidfeld graciously accepted the plaudits of a record crowd (106,000 spectators attended over the three days), Palmer kept a low profile, having crashed Honda’s very original ex-Prost McLaren MP4/5 ignominiously en route to the start. Jochen Mass was the only other driver to better 50sec, cutting 49.2sec in the 1990 Sauber-Mercedes C11 sportscar.
Festival regular Marc Surer blasted an Arrows-BMW A8 turbocar up in 50.8s, heading off Charles Agg who threaded his March 707 Can-Am car up in 51.08sec, equalling rally ace Richard Burns time in the Subaru Impreza WRC. Pre-war rivalry was fierce, as ever, between Ludovic Lindsay in his ex-Bira ERA R5B ‘Remus’ and the intrepid Julian Majzub’s Bugatti T35, Lindsay, inspired, stormed off the line in a flurry of Dunlop smoke, his magnificent 59.27sec effort besting Majzub’s breathless 60.03sec.
Forty years to the week since it won Le Mans, Aston Martin DBR1/2 flew up in 57.83sec with the exuberant Peter Hardman. And Phil Hill did a superb job demonstrating his 1962 Le Mans winning Ferran 330 TR. “I beat Piper and Pappalardo in their P4s,” grinned the ’61 World Champion.