A Century Of Grand Prix Racing At Goodwood Festival of Speed

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March 29, 2006 The world’s foremost motorsport event, the Goodwood Festival of Speed is now approaching rapidly (July 7-9) so now’s the time to book those appointments in the UK to ensure your national and international business trips coincide. One of the many highlights of this year’s festival will be the celebration of one hundred years of Grand Prix history. Renault’s Malaysian Grand Prix winner Giancarlo Fisichella will be there with last year’s World Championship-winning Renault R25 and so will be the closest-surviving relative of the car that won the first-ever Grand Prix. That first Grand Prix – the French Grand Prix which was held over two days on a 60-mile road course near Le Mans in June 1906 – was won by Renault’s Hungarian driver Ferenc Szisz aboard his 13-litre 90CV AX. (see image library for some fantastic images from the first ever Grand Prix).

Those interested in the early years of Grand Prix racing should consult this excellent article on FORIX.

The original GP-winning car disappeared soon after the race and has never been found but it’s nearest successor is the Vanderbilt Cup Renault from 1907, virtually identical in shape and size to the victor of the first Grand Prix – and two examples of the car will be at Goodwood in July.

An impressive automotive sculpture by Gerry Judah will be constructed on the carriage turning circle in front of Goodwood House, depicting Renault’s victory in the first-ever Grand Prix in 1906 and other milestones in the company’s motorsport history. On this central stage will stand two R25’s, the car which propelled Fernando Alonso and Renault to World Championship glory in 2005. Juxtaposed with this cutting-edge technology will be the beauty and majesty of the two 1907 Renaults, so close to the car that carried Ferenc Szisz to victory on the roads around Le Mans a century ago.

The Vanderbilt Cup cars were built to race in a series sponsored by American businessman William Kissem Vanderbilt Jr. One of the pair, ‘Agatha’, has its own race-winning pedigree and the second is a perfectly restored model owned by the Indianapolis museum.

Also taking to the hillclimb circuit will be a Mégane Trophy supercar, in the experienced hands of Renault Formula One star René Arnoux. Meanwhile, Renault’s heritage as an engine supplier will be celebrated by Ayrton Senna’s 1985 Renault-powered Lotus 97T from Classic Team Lotus.

Among the cars on static display in the Renault staging area will be New Clio Renaultsport 197, New Mégane Renaultsport 225 Renault F1 Team Special Edition, Mégane Trophy supercar and Renault F1 Team’s R26. These will be joined by several other models highlighting Renault’s impressive motorsport pedigree.

Philippe Talou-Derible, Managing Director of Renault UK said: "We are obviously extremely proud to be the main sponsor of what is quite possibly the world’s finest motoring event. This is a year that means so much to Renault. Not only is Renault the reigning Formula One champion, but 2006 also marks the centenary of our first Grand Prix victory."

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