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From GCCIA to Goodwood: going greener while going racing

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Some of us are car enthusiasts and some of us aren’t.

For some of us, a day out at the Goodwood Festival of Speed would be a highlight of the motoring year.

In 2010 its status as one of the big events where the public can see cars for the first time generated renewed interest.

It took place in the same week as our Greener Company Car in Action event at Millbrook.

In theory, fleet managers could sample some of the latest models with a focus on efficiency and low CO2 emissions at Millbrook on Tuesday and Wednesday, then get behind the wheel of something maybe a bit less worthy at the Moving Motor Show.

Having been to the Festival of Speed pretty much every year since 2002 – usually as a paying car enthusiast customer – I was planning a visit at the weekend.

But a couple of days before, I was offered an opportunity that was too good to pass up. I was asked if I “fancied a run up the hill”.

Having attended regularly and looked on as motor racing legends tore up the hill in legendary machinery, I never imagined I would join them, even though I knew some places in cars were taken by us ‘civilian’ journalists.

My job would be to take a car based on one of the lowest emitting models on sale in the UK, and the smallest conventionally powered car due to be driven up the hill.

It would be a Toyota IQ.

Not an ordinary IQ, though. It was a supercharged version of the 1.33-litre model, stripped out with a roll cage and racing seats. It was part of a project looking at how Toyota might engineer high-performance versions in the future as well as a feasibility study into running a one-make series.

It could also lead to aftermarket packs for customers inspired by the hot version.

Anyway, back to Goodwood, and I discovered from my Twitter feed that Formula One World Champion Jenson Button would be leading the run I would be participating in driving a vivid orange McLaren 12C road car.

And five-time Le Mans winner Derek Bell. And former British Touring Car Champion Tim Harvey, as well as a few other illustrious names would also be joining us.

Described by Goodwood as a “challenging, white-knuckled 1.16-mile course” and while there’s the relatively open drive past Goodwood House and thousands of spectators, about halfway up the view to the left is dominated by a large and potentially painful looking wall just a couple of metres from the track.

But most pressing on my mind at the start-line was hoping I didn’t stall it in front of thousands of people and hold up proceedings.

Luckily, with enough wheelspin to draw attention to the little IQ to anyone that might have been distracted, I set off up the hill.

Although it’s supercharged, it was difficult to detect any mechanical whine from it over the rasp from the exhaust. Although the car was tiny, it made a big noise and felt every inch a race car, with razor-sharp responses and amazing levels of grip.

What was my time? With far less horsepower than the rest of the petrol powered cars on the run (almost 900bhp less than one of the cars) I had no aspiration to record a time.

But although this was technically called the Supercar Run and the IQ isn’t really a supercar, given our current obsession with lower CO2 emissions it was perhaps appropriate that my first Festival of Speed hillclimb was in one of the greenest race cars at the event.


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