Sir Chris Hoy switches to four wheels for Goodwood Festival of Speed

Isabelle Phillips had her haircut for the Little Princess charity Picture: Keith Woodland

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Champion cyclist Sir Chris Hoy is more used to two wheels and leg power - but our greatest-ever Olympian was among a host of famous drivers getting behind the wheel today at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

He was invited to drive a 1952 Jaguar XK120 Montlhery in the Classic Endurance Racers batch as action got under way on the world-famous hillclimb course.

Sir Chris Hoy

Sir Chris Hoy

Other well-known figures donning their racing helmets included F1 world champion Nelson Piquet, who had flown in from Brazil to be reunited with his world championship-winning Brabham car from 1983.

The evergreen Sir Stirling Moss was also joining in the fun in the sun - at 83, he piloted a Mercedes W196 that he raced back in 1954.

He said: ‘It’s such a wonderful atmosphere here. The old cars have such love, attention and money lavished on them that they’re probably in much better condition than when we raced them.’

Current stars burning rubber in contemporary F1 machines included Max Chilton, Charles Pic, Adrian Sutil and Sebastian Buemi, while overhead the Red Arrows put on an impressive display despite cloud cover restricting their routine.

Bike fans were treated to the sight of American legend Kevin Schwantz riding the 1993 Suzuki RGV500 on which he won the world title.

Away from the track, business secretary Vince Cable paid a visit to the Rolls-Royce stand, talking to local apprentices and going for a spin in the new Wraith, which is built at Goodwood.

Large crowds were greeted by an amazing sculpture soaring above Goodwood House, consisting of three Porsche 911s suspended atop thin metal spikes.

Goodwood owner Lord March said: ‘The cars are real and the whole thing is an amazing engineering achievement.’

Rally drivers were kicking up dust in a special forest stage, there was an aviation exhibition and the FoS-TECH pavilion gave a glimpse into motoring of the future.

In the racing paddocks, engines were tuned and bodywork was polished as an amazing array of racing cars and bikes were readied for action.

Formula One teams including Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes and McLaren have brought cars and fans took the chance to get up close to machines they normally only see on TV.

Star drivers Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Nico Rosberg, Sergio Perez and Romain Grosjean are all due to get behind the wheel over the weekend, plus past masters including Sir Jackie Stewart, Alain Prost, John Surtees and Emerson Fittipaldi.

Some of the world’s best BMX and trials bike riders were pulling off impressive aerial stunts in the Goodwood Action Sports arena, while the supercar paddock was packed with roadgoing exotica that most people could only dream of owning.

In the Cartier ‘Style et Luxe’ area, visitors could wander around a selection of beautiful vehicles that will be judged by a panel including pop star Simon Le Bon and designer Sir Terence Conran. Meanwhile children were entertained by meeting real-life versions of characters and cars from the TV cartoon Wacky Racers.

Crowds of more than 180,000 are expected at this year’s 20th anniversary festival, which has a ‘greatest hits’ theme featuring some of the most memorable motoring moments from the past two decades.

As well as track runs, there’s plenty going on in the air too - tomorrow features a Vulcan flypast and the Red Arrows and a Typhoon are back on Sunday.

Today also sees the Bonhams auction, where the world record could be smashed by the sale of a 1954 ex-Juan Manuel Fangio Mercedes W196 grand prix car. Experts reckon the hammer price could easily go beyond £10m.

Lord March said: ‘We’ve aimed to make this the best festival ever - I hope we’ve succeeded.’

Admision to the Festival of Speed is strictly by advance ticket only. For more information, go to goodwood.co.uk or call 01243 755055.

The photographs in our In Pictures package are by Matt Sills

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