Racing into the history books
Porsche Cars Great Britain – Goodwood Revival: Find out what happened when a grid of 30 Porsche 911 racing cars – all powered by sustainable fuel – took to Goodwood Motor Circuit at the 2023 Revival for an unforgettable 60th anniversary celebration.
Held on 8–10 September 2023, the annual Goodwood Revival – one of the world’s most famous historic race meetings – featured a very special race in tribute to 75 years of Porsche sports cars and 60 years of the 911.
In the 45-minute, two-driver Fordwater Trophy race, a pack of 30 howling, pre-1966 short-wheelbase Porsche 911 and 901 models took to the track for a competitive celebration of this landmark year. And, crucially, this was also the first-ever historic motor race in which the entire grid was running solely on sustainable fuel – a glimpse of what could be a viable way to keep these classic machines running in the future.
As well as 2009 Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button, the impressive driver line-up included 2015 FIA World Endurance Champion Mark Webber – a Porsche Brand Ambassador and nine-time GP winner, making his return to competitive motorsport for the first time since retiring back in 2016.
Also in action was Porsche Carrera Cup GB Junior Adam Smalley, who shared the No. 23 Porsche Classic GB entry – complete with its striking red-and-white livery, in homage to the 1970 Le Mans 24 Hours-winning 917 K – with former Formula 1 driver and Goodwood Festival of Speed hillclimb record-holder Max Chilton. Other drivers on the grid with connections to Porsche Motorsport included ex-factory racer Patrick Long and current Porsche test driver Lars Kern, both of whom were making their Goodwood racing debuts.
Friday’s 30-minute practice session gave the drivers a chance to get to grips with the ultra-fast 2.4-mile circuit, with lap times determining the grid for Saturday afternoon’s race. Andrew Jordan, 2013 British Touring Car Champion and former Porsche Sprint Challenge GB team entrant, set the fastest time on his final lap of the session to secure pole position in an immaculate 1965 example shared with owner Matt Holme. Just two tenths of a second separated the cars in second to sixth positions, so the stage was set for a thrilling race.
The race got underway in Saturday’s baking heat, accompanied by a glorious flat-six symphony. From the middle of the front row, the car of James Thorpe and Phil Quaife took an early lead, but pro racer Oliver Webb pulled off a perfectly judged overtake manoeuvre at Woodcote corner, putting the dark-green car he shared with Guy Ziser in front by the end of the first lap. Then the frenetic start was paused by the scrambling of a safety car, after classic Porsche expert Richard Tuthill ran wide at Madgwick corner and made contact with the tyre barrier.
When the safety car peeled off the circuit and racing resumed (with an extra three minutes added to the clock), many of the cars headed into the pit lane for their mandatory driver changes. Sadly, the Porsche Classic entry would go no further in the race, Smalley retiring the car before he could hand it over to Chilton.
A hard-charging Mark Webber grabbed the attention of the Goodwood grandstands as he made a scintillating return to racing, charging through the field at the wheel of the 1965 model he shared with owner Bonamy Grimes. But, ultimately, Andrew Jordan was the class of the field, taking back the lead and setting the fastest lap of the race on the way to a dominant victory. Thorpe and Quaife crossed the line almost 14 seconds later, with William Paul and BTCC star Rory Butcher taking the final podium spot.
It was the first-ever historic motor race in which the entire grid was running solely on sustainable fuel.
Despite not making the finish, Smalley relished his first visit to the Revival. ‘It has been a privilege to be here representing Porsche Classic GB. I’ve grown up racing cars with sequential gearboxes and paddle shifters rather than the “H-pattern” manual lever our 911 has. And I’ve never taken part in a race with a driver change, so it’s all new, exciting and such good fun.’
Webber’s dazzling drive – widely judged to be one of the weekend’s highlights – saw him finish fifth, and later he did a similarly impressive job of summing up this unique race: ‘Wherever we can match beautiful classic Porsche machinery like this with modern technology in terms of propulsion and sustainable fuel, it has to be a good thing.’
718 Cayman GT4 RS
13.2 l/100 km