Piers Ward29 June 2012

Goodwood FoS: TG in the BAC Mono

We strap into the BAC Mono for a run up the famous hill. In front of 20,000 people. Don't stall it, don't stall it, don't...

It's Goodwood Festival of Speed time, which means that all the manufacturers vie to show off their most iconic machinery, and all the drivers vie to show off their best skills.

Which, in the case of Top Gear's skills, amounts to not stalling in front of 20,000 people. We were the first magazine in the world to drive the BAC Mono up the hill, and fortunately we left our stalling boots at home.

What a car this is for the hill. Spectacular looks, effortless and rapid-fire paddle shift gearbox so you sound like a gearchanging hero to all the crowds, pace and noise to please all those people, in a chassis that's simply a doddle to drive. Plus, you have to wear a full face helmet so that no-one really knows it's you when you make a cock-up.

My run was nothing heroic, but it was amazing how quickly the revs whipped round to the red line. Because the last couple of thousand climbed on so quickly, it was actually quite difficult to judge your gear change accurately before butting into the rev limiter. If you drove the BAC more often you'd get tuned into the point in the engine note where you need to be banging into the next gear, but on my limited run there was no scope for that. Still, I'm sure no one heard...

But because the chassis is so compliant, and you're seated and locked in like an F1 driver, you feel comfortable and confident. This is not a scary car, despite the hill being an intimidating place - narrow, no run-off, and lots of blind corners. In fact, I got on the brakes for the fearsome Molcombe corner where everyone says you should be on the anchors, but then realised I could have carried way more speed in there. The BAC flatters.

My time up the hill was absolutely not spectacular, but at least the Mono came back all in one piece. Fortunately, Goodwood can rely on some better drivers than TG can supply to entertain all the crowds. It promises to be a great few days.

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