Goodwood Festival of Speed preview

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One of the finest line-ups of cars and drivers ever heads for Goodwood House this June. Marcus Pye is your form guide.

For the tens of thousands of British enthusiasts whose motorsport year revolves around the annual pilgrimage to Le Mans, Lord March’s seventh Goodwood Festival on June 18-20 is an unmissable opportunity to extend the celebrations by a week.

With the previous weekend’s 24 Hour classic freshly etched in the memories of eye-witnesses, and recorded by the media for those denied its electric atmosphere, several key cars (still covered in grey battlegrime, for extra pathos) are due at Goodwood.

Subject to their survival in France, of course, the latest sports-prototypes from Audi, BMW and Porsche will take their places among the finest collection of Le Mans cars ever seen in Britain indeed probably the greatest ever assembled in one place.

The twice-round-the-clock marathon’s heroic story will be told on the sylvan Goodwood Estate. At least 20 winning cars – a good strike rate, since this year’s race is the 69th – is the target and most will race past the great house on the hillclimb course plotted by Freddie March in 1936.

The earliest winner on the organisers’ wish list is the 3-litre Bentley in which John Duff and Frank Clement won the 1924 race – the second in the series. The Lorraine-Dietrich of 1926 is likely, but Bugatti and Delahaye cars from the ’30s are coming.

Adrian Hamilton will drive his late father Duncan’s ’53-winning Jaguar C, Roy Salvadori the ’59-winning Aston Martin DBR1 and Paul Frere his ’60-winning Ferrari Testa Rossa. Jackie Oliver is reunited with the Ford GT40 in which he won the ’69 24 Hours with Jacky Ickx, amid a field of Ferraris, Porsches and a strong contingent of Alfa Romeos.

Six-times winner lckx himself will drive several Ferraris on his Festival debut including the sole surviving long-tailed 512M and, hopefully, the works Porsche 936/77. Derek Bell (who was partnered by Belgium’s greatest in three of his five victories) is reunited with a Porsche 956 and, with luck, the 75 Gulf-Cosworth G R8.

Porsche 917s and shrill Matras represent the 70s, as will Jean-Pierre Jaussaud in the ’78 Alpine-Renault The Jaguar and Sauber-Mercedes cars which broke Porsche’s stranglehold in the ’80s are coming, the latter to be driven by Jochen Mass. Mazda’s raucous rotary rocket of ’91 and the fighter aircraft-like Peugeot (with ’92 victor Derek Warwick up) are also promised. Allan McNish with last year’s winning Porsche, Michele Alboreto in the new Audi and Joachim Winklehock’s BMW V12 update the story.

First-timers include the extraordinary Cadillac ‘Le Monstre’, a brace of Briggs Cunningham meaty C4Rs and Mercedes-Benz’s 300SLR coupe. A special showcase for the ACO’s Index of Thermal Efficiency prize contenders features Porsche RSK, Frazer-Nash, Stanguellini and the Leonardo da Vinci Museum’s bizarre twin-boom Nardi.

The Le Mans theme is the central sub-plot under the Millennium of Horsepower umbrella, but the event promises so much more. With the spotlight on cars, motorcycles and sights new to the pageant, the development of wheeled sport is traced from the burly-burly of chariot racing (staged within a special stadium) to current Formula One missiles. Many exciting stops en route start with the pioneering long-distance.racers of the last century. Jewel-like Bugatti, Delage and Alfa Romeos of the 1920s and ’30s contrast with brutal Curtiss, Napier-Railton and Mormon Meteor among the Vintage Bentleys. Rare CTA Arsenal and Cisitalia cars join the HWM `Stovebolt Special’ among the Voiturettes on their Goodwood debuts, which will pursue Ludo Lindsay’s ERA ‘Remus’,

Old Indycars were a big hit last year, so a fresh trawl was launched for more bold and brash oval racers. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is sending Jimmy Murphy’s 1922 Indy 500-winning Duesenberg – which also won the previous year’s French GP. Veteran Rodger Ward, meanwhile, is to be reunited with his ’59 Indy-winning Watson-Offenhauser ‘Leader Card Special’ at the age of 78.

The versatile Parnelli Jones will drive the Kuzma Lotus 34, the combo beaten only by Jim Clark’s Lotus 38 at The Brickyard in ’65. From the 70s, Johnny Rutherford retakes the helm of a McLaren M16, matched against Walter Goodwin in Jim Jaeger’s Eagle. And Emerson Fittipaldi is back to wring the neck of Al Unser Jr’s ’94 Indy-winning Penske PC23.

Lancia is displaying an original D50 among the Grands Prix innovators, and a recreation is also expected to run. Sir Jack Brabham runs his Cooper-Climax T51 from his 1959 Championship season.

On the verge of its return to F1, Honda’s ’65 V12-engined RA272, ’67 RA300 `Hondola’ (with ’64 World Champion John Surtees back at the wheel) and ’68 RA301 will be among the stars of the show. They will contrast with spaghetti-piped V12 Ferraris from ’68 and ’69 and Ben Liebeit’s Eagle-Weslake.

Cosworth DFV-powered BT42 and wailing flat-12 Alfa Romeo-engined BT45 chassis show the brilliant Gordon Murray’s early-70s thinking at Brabham. They are ranged against Lotus’ ground-breaking 72 and ‘ground-effect’ 79 to be driven by current Stewart-Ford F1 driver Rubens Barrichello and the ex-Chris Amon V12 Matra MS120C.

Renault Sport is bringing its first whistling 1.5-litre F1 turbocar for Rene Amoux, and an RE60 for Patrick Tambay, who will also run the Ferrari 126C2 in which he won the ’82 German GP. McLaren-Honda turbocars are likely and a Williams-Honda FW11 is due, hopefully for ’82 Champion Keke Rosberg.

Can-Am cars include Charlie Agg’s vast STP March-Chevrolet 707, Bud Bennett’s twin-turbo Shadow, the Ford-powered Honker II and the Porsche 917 which rendered them all obsolete. Better suited to the course will be the Abarth, Elva and Ferraris built for the old European Mountain Championship, Audi’s 720bhp IMSA GTO Quattro and the Mercedes CLK-GT1 in Klaus Ludwig’s hands.

Former World Champion Colin McRae heads the rally fraternity with the Ford Focus which has taken the sport by storm, but faces strong opposition from Michele Mouton, always a favourite in a works Audi Quattro Sport S1 Evo, and the firm’s Pikes Peak monster. The battle for Best Time over the 1.16-mile course is more to do with pride than relevance, but last year’s winner Nick Heidfeld wants a shot at Jonathan Palmer’s 45.0s record in Mika Hakkinen’s McLaren-Mercedes, and Williams is eager to defend its title. The Jordan team plans to return, too, while the new BAR equipe could bring a fresh splash of colour.