The BMW i8 Roadster showed excellent handling on the Goodwood hillclimb. Picture: MARK SMYTH
The BMW i8 Roadster showed excellent handling on the Goodwood hillclimb. Picture: MARK SMYTH

The plan was to accompany the only BMW 7 Series race car in the world to Goodwood. Sadly, the owner in SA had to defer his invitation to take part in the event but fortunately BMW SA said let’s go anyway, which was a bit of luck.

There was plenty for BMW to be excited about over the weekend too and plenty for us because we had not one, but two runs up the hill. Not behind the wheel sadly, but in the passenger seat driven by a BMW German Touring Car driver and a British Touring Car driver.

The big highlight was a run up the hill in the new BMW 8 Series coupe, just months after it had been revealed and well ahead of its international launch.

Few have been close to this car let alone been in it as it charges up a dynamic track. Behind the wheel was British Touring Car driver Rob Collard, who is competing in a BMW 125i M this season.

It is of course a grand tourer (GT) but as we left the famous start line it was clear that it has plenty of grunt and the engineers have not skimped on the dynamics.

BMW AND MINI HAD STANDS SHOWCASING EVERYTHING FROM THE CONCEPTS OF THE Z4 TO THE ELECTRIC MINI.

Collard is a smooth driver and even on the dusty first corner, the 8 Series held its line well before barrelling past the grandstands into the notorious Molecomb corner.

In spite of having standard brakes, Collard was hard on the pedal and it scrubbed off speed superbly before heading up the hill and flicking past the historic and daunting wall beneath the trees and up towards the finish. The drive took less than a minute but showed that the new 8 has real potential.

What also has potential is the i8 Roadster. Rob’s son Ricky Collard was behind the wheel of a number of BMW models over the weekend, including a DTM race car. At the age of 21, he has a good head on his shoulders and knows what it will take to succeed in motorsport. He even has the motto "send it, don’t bend it" which was comforting as we approached the start line.

The i8 is, of course, a hybrid giving instant acceleration off the line but it is the way it sits so well that impresses the most. Even Collard agreed that if BMW could give the car to its M-Sport division then they could make a very special race car indeed.

The blast up the hill took just 53 seconds before joining a traffic jam of exotic supercars in the paddock at the top to drive back down in convoy. We even played to the crowd a little, "flapping" the doors until a marshal wagged his finger at us. Collard is just 21, he likes a bit of fun.

Hill runs over, there were plenty of other BMWs to take in over the weekend.

BMW Motorsport junior driver Ricky Collard drove us up the hill in the i8 Roadster. Picture: MARK SMYTH
BMW Motorsport junior driver Ricky Collard drove us up the hill in the i8 Roadster. Picture: MARK SMYTH

There were plenty of Formula 1 cars, but few have the sound of the incredible Williams-BMW FW26 with its high-revving V10 engine that was driven by Juan Pablo Montoya in 2004. It was one of the stars of the weekend as it charged up the hill.

There was a Pikes Peak E36 V8 Judd BMW too, a 1990s BMW M3 Touring Car, as well as the 1979 M1 Procar. Fast forward to today and the BMW M8 GTE race car showed just what it is capable of after competing at Le Mans in June.

It was not all about the track though. Goodwood is the modern interpretation of the traditional motor show and both BMW and Mini had large stands at the event showcasing everything from the concepts of the Z4 to the electric Mini.

There was plenty for BMW fans to be excited about.

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