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Goodwood Festival of Speed Hill Climb

By Maxine Ashford | July 14, 2023

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Watch the video as we complete the iconic Goodwood Hill climb with World Rally champion Jari-Matti Latvala

Goodwood Festival of Speed Hill Climb

The thrills of Goodwood Festival of Speed speak for themselves for anyone with the slightest interest or passion for cars. There is literally something for everyone.

Manufacturers unveil new models and concepts, classic vehicles come out from under the covers, there are celebrities galore and, of course, that iconic hill climb which sees road and race cars, along with motorbikes, hurtling up the famous Goodwood Hill.

Watch along as we complete the iconic Goodwood FoS Hill climb with Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team Principal Jari-Matti Latvala.

The 1.16-mile route winds its way through the centre of the show and each year it becomes the main attraction for the thousands of spectators braving the elements to watch the spectacular event.

For manufacturers and race teams alike, it is the perfect stage to show off their latest machines with experts at the wheel testing all their driving skills to the limits. 

It’s simply a sight to behold and previous participants racing for the fastest time include the likes of Sebastien Loeb, Travis Pastrana and Anthony Reid.

So, when the opportunity came my way to have a passenger ride in a World Rally Championship 2 concept car driven by the rather brilliant Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team Principal Jari-Matti Latvala, it was a prospect to be snapped up without any hesitation. It was also the first time a Toyota WRC2 model had appeared at Goodwood so quite a debut.

Jari, 38, is a Finnish racing driver who has secured a staggering 18 event victories in the World Rally Championship. This makes him the most successful driver to never win the overall title, but come so close.

He began driving at the age of eight after his father, also called Jari and also a rally driver, gave him a Ford Escort. At just 10 years of age, young Jari was practicing with an Opel Ascona on a frozen lake.

His first rally was at 17 and the rest, as they say, is history. There were 18 rally wins, 67 podium appearances and 539 stage wins.

Then in 2020 he became the Team Principal for Toyota Gazoo Racing where he is responsible for bringing a driver’s perspective to the team. 

Due to an earlier accident on the Goodwood track, we had a couple of hours delay, but that was an ideal time to catch up with the charming Finn.

Speaking about his new position, he explained: “I see it as an exciting role. I am there as a support for the team, which includes 170 full-time members, along with a  number of freelancers. I also enjoy the media communications side of the position too.

“I really want to use what I have learned over the years as a driver and work together with the team directors to make this team as successful as possible.”

And with the Toyota Gazoo Racing team at the forefront of his ambitions, he is proud that they have been Manufacturers Champions for the last two years and are leading the chasing pack halfway through the 2023 season.

But Jari hasn’t hung up his driving gloves just yet. He still competes and will be racing alongside a number of his colleagues in Finland later in the year.

However, for Jari at Festival of Speed, it was all about the stunning Toyota WRC2 Concept car with its 1.6-litre turbo engine pumping out 300bhp and about 450Nm of torque.

It was unveiled in concept form at Rally Japan at the end of the 2022 season, but unlike many race cars, it will be offered for sale by TGR as a customer car that will be eligible for many national and regional championships worldwide. I should add that there are no details on pricing as of yet.

But back to the track and when we were finally given the go-ahead, Jari warned that there would be a series of doughnuts, “just to warm the tyres of course”.

Then we reached the START sign and, through the intercom, I heard a glimmer of excitement in Jari’s voice as he said: “Right, let’s go.” There had been a ridiculous amount of waiting around amongst the roars of supercar and motorbike engines and I was hoping it wouldn’t have agitated him too much!

Then, in the blink of an eye, we set off at breakneck speeds, hitting figures of 100mph through the climb. The braking, steering and acceleration were so sharp, I was actually grateful for the first time to be kitted out from head to toe in sweltering safety gear and strapped into my seat with barely an inch of give in any direction.

At the top of the famous hill, it was all over. I breathed a slight sigh of relief, possibly the first breath I had taken since the start line and all I can say about this exciting concept rally car is it’s very, very fast! Thank you Toyota Gazoo Racing for the opportunity and a very big thank you to Jari.

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