Volkswagen withdraws from Goodwood SpeedWeek

Threat of coronavirus outbreak will keep record-setting ID.R electric racer at home in Germany

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VW ID.R
Volkswagen's record-setting ID.R will remain in Germany so 30-person crew doesn't risk catching Covid in the UK | VW Motorsport photo

As Goodwood SpeedWeek was announcing its final car and driver timetable for October 16-18, Volkswagen was withdrawing its record-setting ID.R from the event because of fears of an increase in Covid-19 cases.

“The background to this decision is the infection rate of the coronavirus, which has accelerated dramatically over the past few days – not only in England, but throughout Europe,” Volkswagen Motorsport said in its announcement. “A team of roughly 30 Volkswagen Motorsport employees was scheduled to attend the automobile festival.”

“After lengthy internal discussions, we are convinced that this is the right decision in the current situation,” explained Sven Smeets, VW Motorsport director. “We would obviously have loved to compete against the opposition at Goodwood Motor Circuit, but this is unfortunately not possible for us at the moment. 

“It is not appropriate to bring such a large team from Germany to the UK at a time when measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus are being ramped up significantly in all European countries. 

“Even though we are unable to attend,” he added, “this weekend we will all be watching the live broadcast at home instead.”

The electric-powered ID.R, which already holds the record for the run up the Goodwood hill during the Festival of Speed, was among the cars expected to seek a new speed record on the full Goodwood Motor Circuit.

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Even with VW’s withdrawal, the final driver list includes Dario Franchitti, Tom Kristensen, Jackie Stewart, Emerson Fittipaldi and Damon Hill and featured cars will come from Formula 1, NASCAR, V8 Supercars, German and British touring car championships, World Rally, Le Mans and Trans Am.

Celebrations taking place during the weekend include 70 years of Formula 1, 50 years since Porsche’s first Le Mans victory, and 30 years since Jaguar’s final Le Mans victory. 

“All will be brought to life through a combination of significant cars and drivers on track, mixed with documentary films and interviews with an amazing line up of contributors,” Goodwood said.

“Two never-to-be-repeated competitions taking advantage of the fact that there will be no spectators at this closed-doors event are the Rally Super Special and the Goodwood Driftkhana,” the track added. 

“The former will be run on multiple occasions over the weekend, the first on the Thursday night as the sun falls. The Super Special has both a north and a south loop, incorporating parts of the motor circuit, the infield and perimeter track to provide a challenging combination of mixed surfaces, swift changes of direction and long, flowing corners. 

“Decades of World Rally Championship machines will be represented and the drivers to watch will be current WRC leader Elfyn Evans in the Toyota GR Yaris and the legendary Stig Blomqvist in a Ford Escort Cosworth.

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“A dedicated ‘Driftkhana’ course will see the cars sliding sideways through parts of the Goodwood Motor Circuit site never used in anger before.”

The full schedule is available on the Goodwood website and all events will be webcast live as well on the site.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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