The VXR8 GTS-R will be the last V8-engined Vauxhall, so we felt it was necessarily to give it a fitting goodbye
Pat Doran, Chris Forsberg and Ed Berrier. Three exceptionally talented drivers who have all fallen foul of Lord March’s tight and technical drive this Goodwood weekend. It’s a thought I try to suppress as I edge my way towards the hill’s famous startline.
The Range Rover Velar up ahead launches with the little drama, rocketing up to turn one. And now it’s my turn.
Under the marshal’s instructions, I coast up to the line, select first gear and wait for the signal. The tension in the air is palpable, with spectators on both sides of the avenue expecting plenty of smoke. After all, this has been the hooligan’s car of choice since 2007, and I’m keen to send the VXR8 out in a blaze of tyre-smoking fury.
With the TV camera crane moved into position, the marshal’s hand rises, giving me the universal signal to side step the clutch. Unsurprisingly, the rear tyres are instantly overcome with 546lb ft of torque, spinning themselves into a smoky oblivion.
Selecting second gear does little to quell the loss of traction, and the process starts anew. In fact, it’s only when the VXR8 GTS-R is north of 70mph that the rear tyres begin to find some purchase on hill’s dirty asphalt.
The first two low-speed corners tell me that despite this being the most powerful Vauxhall ever produced, the VXR8 remains beautifully balanced, and dare I say it, approachable. It’s a welcome characteristic as I accelerate towards Molecomb, a high-speed left-hander that has caught out two of the three aforementioned racers this weekend.
I brake early, but still enter with enough speed to feel the car moving around beneath me. With its relatively long wheelbase, it’s tempting to provoke the GTS-R into oversteer, but I quickly remember that only 15 of these beasts will be making their way to the UK, and opt for some restraint.
With tree cover rendering the next sweeping right unsighted, the flint wall is tackled with the same level of respect. However, after clearing the track’s most daunting piece of furniture, I’m determined to make full use of the GTS-R’s 6.2-litre V8’s 587bhp, and carry as much speed as I dare onto the final straight. As I blast through the finishing line, I have a quick glance at the speedo and see the needle sweep past 120mph. And then it’s all over, as I’m given the signal to slow down for world’s most glamorous car park.
Burbling back down the hill, following a McLaren P1 GTR of all things, brings home just how much we will miss Vauxhall’s V8-engined brute. Even when surrounded by the world’s rarest supercars, the marshals along with 150,000 strong crowds can’t help but target the GTS-R, shouting for burnouts every time I come to a stop. I duly oblige; after all, this will be the last time this particular car will be driven in anger.
So, while my run in the GTS-R was a rather nerve-wracking one, that stint behind the wheel will forever be one of my fondest memories of the Festival of Speed. Bring on 2018.