Fisichella thrills the crowds as Renault sponsors Goodwood Festival of Speed 2006
Renault celebrated its motor racing heritage in spectacular fashion at the Goodwood Festival of Speed 2006 with a display of cars spanning the 100 years between its first and most recent Grand Prix victories. Giancarlo Fisichella was the main draw for the tens of thousands of fans who flocked to the West Sussex venue on Sunday 9th July, driving last season’s Formula One World Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship-winning R25.
The Italian completed three runs up the world-famous hillclimb, thrilling the crowds who packed the circuit to watch his debut appearance at Goodwood. The previous two days saw Renault F1 Team’s official third and test driver Heikki Kovalainen push R25 to its limits, reaching a staggering 290km/h (181mph) on the narrow circuit.
Both drivers were making their first visit to the Festival and Fisichella summed up the feelings of the duo, commenting: “It was a big emotion for me to be here. I know Goodwood Festival of Speed is a big event in England with fans from all over the world. For them it’s just important to see the show and I think the show for them was fantastic. Driving at Goodwood has realised an ambition for me. It’s great to be here.”
Over 150,000 spectators converged at Goodwood during the course of the three days and Renault provided entertainment for all. Not content with displaying some of the finest cars and drivers, Renault also supplied the soundtrack to the event, as Renault F1 Team’s RS25 engine played the national anthems of France and the UK at the central display.
Played using software created at the team’s headquarters, RS25 roared out ‘God Save The Queen’ and ‘La Marseillaise’ to a huge response from the thousands of fans gathered around. The tunes are now available to download as mobile ringtones from www.renaultsport.co.uk.
A pair of R25s were operating from Renault’s central display in front of Goodwood House, beneath the giant structure created by Gerry Judah. Showcased alongside the modern front-running Renaults was a re-creation of the car that began the history of Grand Prix racing, a Renault AK 90CV.
Driven by Hungarian Ferenc Szisz, the Type AK won the first-ever Grand Prix held in June 1906 on the outskirts of Le Mans and vintage car enthusiast John Brydon has re-created the car after unearthing an original chassis.
After the 1906 victory, American millionaire William Kissam Vanderbilt commissioned a series of 10 cars for use in the Vanderbilt Cup. Two editions of the 1907 Renault AI 35CVs, which have consecutive engine numbers, also stood proudly alongside their modern counterparts. ‘Agatha’ was driven on the hillclimb by her owner Wolfgang Auge, while the second car, from the Indianapolis Hall of Fame, was driven by the Museum’s Restoration Manager Bill Spoerle.
Unearthing the 1906 GP winner?
The final part of the central display was a 12.9-litre Renault engine from the London Science Museum, which, after the discovery of its original specification, could have been the 1906 Grand Prix-winning engine.
Bruno Senna, nephew of the legendary Ayrton, drove his uncle’s Lotus-Renault 97T, which was supplied by Classic Team Lotus. The car was driven by Ayrton to his first-ever Grand Prix victory at Estoril, Portugal in 1985.
Saloon car fans recalled Renault’s dominant British Touring Car Championship season of 1997 as father and son team Gavin and Myles Hicks drove the title-winning Renault Laguna BTCC. The car, which Alain Menu drove to Championship glory, was making its final appearance in this country before being shipped to a new home in New Zealand.
Arnoux – Mégane master
Also ascending Goodwood Hill was a Mégane Trophy in the supercar class. Driven by Festival favourite Réne Arnoux, attending for the sixth time, the car drew admiring glances for its distinctive styling and the roar of its 3.5-litre 330hp engine.
On the newly-extended Forest Rally Stage, Renault’s rally heritage was marked as Adam Keeler drove his Renault 5 Maxi Turbo. The car was previously a leading contender in Group B rallying with 200 victories worldwide, the most famous being the World Rally Championship’s Tour de Corse round in 1985 with Jean Ragnotti driving.
Away from the on-track action, spectators were able to see the latest road-going models on Renault’s stand in the manufacturer display area, including New Clio Renaultsport 197 almost two weeks ahead of its official launch on 18th July. Other facilities included a Renault F1 Team merchandise stand and the Renault Race Centre, which provided hospitality for the team’s engineers and guests.
On each day of the Festival, fans were able to take home a memento of their experience in the form of a free Renault newspaper, featuring images and stories from the day’s action.
Commenting on another successful Goodwood Festival of Speed, Renault UK’s Managing Director Philippe Talou-Derible said: “I am delighted that once again Renault has been able to put on a fantastic show for the motor racing public at Goodwood. Renault has a rich heritage in motorsport, especially in Grand Prix racing thanks to its victories 100 years apart. We are proud of that achievement and pleased that we were able to share our celebration with thousands of fans at the world’s biggest motorsport Festival and I hope that everyone enjoyed the weekend.”