Without any doubt, one of the highlights of my year in motorsport in 2018 was the opportunity to pilot the Le Mans winning Porsche GT1/98 up the hill at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. To take this iconic racer up the hill in front of so many enthusiastic spectators was both a thrill and a huge responsibility.
My participation in this season’s Carrera Cup GB championship has been hugely enjoyable, with close racing in very fast cars and a very professional set up, as you might imagine from such an iconic brand.
As well as racing across the UK, the series involved one overseas round which this year was at the ELMS meeting at Monza. It was a fantastic experience to drive at such an historic circuit with a top speed on the pit straight of over 175 mph! I was lucky enough to come away with a podium, and a fastest lap, and great memories of an incredible weekend.
One of the many benefits of racing with Porsche are the additional motorsport events which go on throughout the year. One of the biggest events in this 70th anniversary year for the Porsche brand was the Goodwood Festival of Speed where the Porsche brand took centre stage. I was lucky enough to be invited there to support Porsche and maybe get the chance to drive some of their cars up the famous hill.
The two days I spent there, along with other drivers from the Carrera Cup, were an intoxicating mix of historic and current Porsche road and race cars, rubbing shoulders with drivers, both current and ‘retired’ and, it must be said, with fantastic weather.
Having driven some current cars, I was asked by the Porsche Motorsport team to join them in the historic paddock. When I arrived there, I was faced with a collection of priceless racing cars spanning every generation and discipline from GT cars to rally cars, including most of the icons of my 40-plus years of fascination with Porsche.
Sitting in the far corner of the paddock was what is, to my mind, the most beautiful of these, the 1998 Le Mans winning 911 GT1! When I was told that I would be driving that car, I pretty much ran to it and climbed into the driving seat as quickly as I could, despite my drive still being 45 minutes away. Nobody was going to be allowed to change their mind and give the car to someone else!
Once we were released from the paddock I found myself in a convoy of these incredible cars, from Moby Dick to the 2018 Le Mans winning (and loud!) Pink Pig. It was an incredibly surreal environment for me and it was hard to take it all in.
The GT1 (now known as ‘my GT1’!) was very easy to drive. The blast up the hill was all too short and only required the first three gears. In truth, 1st gear is so long on the car that it probably could have done the whole run on just the single ratio, but I wasn’t going to abuse that engine!
After our run, all the cars were driven back down the hill and onto the circular drive immediately outside Goodwood House where there was a brief musical celebration followed by a firework display (in broad daylight). All in all, a fantastic experience and a dream come true for me to drive a car which I have admired from afar and for so long.
My season in the Carrera Cup continued well after Goodwood, and I ended the season last weekend with nine class wins, four 2nds and nine fastest laps.
The icing on the cake of an unbelievable year for me was to win the Am class championship in my first season racing in the Cup. Thanks to Team Parker Racing who ran my car all year!
I hope to be back in 2019 and maybe do it all again.
Written by: Peter Mangion
Images by: Porsche