This was where my 60,000-mile, 13-year-old R8 came alive, demonstrating in five fast miles its poise, compactness, enduringly modern levels of grip, sweet steering and spaceframe rigidity. The 420bhp naturally aspirated 4.2-litre V8 dominated proceedings, of course, especially since this one was linked to the excellent six-speed manual gearbox with its glorious, labour-of-love, gated change. You can get a 600bhp-plus V10, as most people know, but I lost count of Audi aficionados who kept telling me “the V8 is the one to have”.
We messed about for most of the afternoon, watching cars new and old practising, running up or just getting ready. Kristensen, ever-amicable, hurled some of us around the circuit as passengers in the latest Nürburgring-refined, limited-edition, V10-powered R8, called the Green Hell.
There weren’t many people about on a normal Goodwood scale, but there were still enough to make a kind of car lovers’ quorum. And enough to make the thing look good online, I suspect, which is where this year’s audience was. But how great to see the Duke’s unquenchable sense of enterprise – and sheer love for Goodwood motorsport – rewarded by shining mid-October weather.
Eventually I drove my R8 away home, entirely convinced of the validity of this special event that has been hatched out of adversity. Here was proof of something that I’ve known since the first Festival of Speed in 1993: Goodwood imposes a delicious feeling on its visitors that I can only describe as rightness, even in depressing times. It’s the unique mix of sights, sounds, smells and, most of all, warmth of contact (not too close) with people like you that does the trick. I will savour my visits to this hallowed place all the more when this crisis is a thing of the past.
Speedweek’s shootouts and races
The one-off Shootout on the circuit lost its star attraction with the withdrawal of the Volkswagen ID R due to coronavirus-based travel concerns, but the diverse range of machinery – spanning historic Formula 1 cars to saloon racers – that did take part in the single-lap time trial put on a spectacular show.
The goal was to beat Nick Padmore’s Goodwood lap record of 1min 18.217sec, set in a Lola T70 Spyder. That mark got shattered, and the driver who eventually went quickest was… Nick Padmore. Armed with a 1989 Arrows-Ford A11 F1 car, he lapped the 2.367-mile circuit in just 1min 9.914sec.