Event: Lambo & Ferrari Driving Day
I thought I had been good in 2009. My missus must have agreed and lodged an appeal with Santa to give me a drive in on of my all time favourite supercars. The man in the red suit obliged and to my extremely excitable surprise I had a Supercar driving day for Christmas!
The day is run by Vision Motorsport, a red-letter day company offering the ultimate driving experience in a multitude of wonderful poster supercars. I had chosen the Lamborghini Gallardo – a dream car of mine.
I decided to wait until June before booking my slot – hedging my bets that the weather might work in my favour. I wasn’t disappointed and June 25th was a beautiful day. I arrived an hour early (eager, you see), didn’t want to risk being late as traffic around York can be bedlam. On display was a lovely selection of supercars. A couple of Aston Martin’s, Audi R8, a Porsche GT, Ferrari 360 and of course, my Lamborghini Gallardo. In bright yellow!
Off to the side was an Ariel Atom which, for a small fee, could be taken out as a passenger demonstration to show you just how quick and precise these crazy little cars can be.
Following a safety briefing and the option of additional insurance should you take a few too many liberties, we were ready to begin.
The driver took us out initially in a Subaru Impreza, describing the course and the angles to take each of the corners. The event was relatively quiet, so only a couple of supercars were out on the track at once – the other being the Ferrari 360, its red bodywork positively radiating the sun’s reflection on this beautiful day.
As the two cars started up – the Ferrari starter motor turning with the rapid squeal bereft only of supercars before barking to life with positive gusto, shortly followed by the Gallardo – which rather wheezed and whirred to life like a sleeping lion with all the intention of staying in slumber for just as long as it pleases. After a few moments only, the lethargic engine gave a reluctant bark indicating it was now fired up and ready to go – and alluding to the age old adage ‘its not just the buying, its the running that costs’.
There were 4 people in our group to play with the Lambo, I was 3rd on the list (alphabet and all that) and watched as the other drivers went out in the Gallardo.
Once the guy before me came back, I took a few photos and jumped in. Tight squeeze for tall Paul I tell you. But once in, other than my hair shaving the car roof it was a pretty comfortable place to be. Everything is just a minor reach away. The pedals were close together though, the giant plates at the end of my ankles requiring careful placement to avoid slamming both the accelerator and brake pedal all at once. The fit and finish of the Lamborghini indicates this new breed of Audi build quality is a solid, well made car.
RL instruct you to be out of 1st and 2nd gear almost immediately and the course is driven in 3rd and 4th. This allows you to get up to around 120mph on the straights but you loose out on the immediacy of the speed generated through the key gears, which normally allow for rapid pace out of the corners. Presumably this is to reduce the chance of powering into a hedge as you get a little too excitable with the unexpected power surge allowed by the lower cogs. I also suspect that finance plays a strong part here – regular use of 2nd gear would lead to much redline and a likely premature death of some expensive automotive parts.
Either way, it was an exhilarating experience, throwing this £100k car around the bends and giving it the boot all the way up the long straights it’s a day I won’t be forgetting in a hurry. The Gallardo, like its appearance felt very stable, precise and sure footed. It was a clean drive where you point and squirt and the car takes you in your chosen direction without any question, just adding more and more ingredients to the massive grin on my face. The gear change was slick and the whole car felt very poised and with its clean external lines, a rather neat if somewhat aggressive looking beast to behold.
Contrast to the Ferrari which, after my 6 laps in the Gallardo and adrenaline in full swing I was itching to try. Deposit down, strap in and off we go. By comparison the appearance of the Ferrari is something more brutal and raw. Its design is fit for purpose and that purpose is to go as fast as it can in an undiluted quest for engineering perfection. You take it by the scruff of the neck and it rewards as your throw it around the bends. It’s like an angry bull, chomping at the bit and making a thoroughly good job of audio drama. Performance was brisk – not quite as fast as the Lambo, but this might have been the gear ratio setup on the straights. I only managed 105mph compared to 115mph in the Lambo. The gearbox took some getting used to, being the gated variety which was more mechanical than the traditional shift that you’d find in a regular car. The clutch on the Gallardo was very modern and light for a supercar, unlike the Ferrari which felt nearly as heavy as a 348 that I sat in a few years ago. A well oiled left knee and pumped leg muscles are still a pre requisite of Ferrari ownership it would seem.
This flip on my expectations on these two cars was somewhat surprising, as the Ferrari has always been the one which historically mated beauty with engineering perfection whilst Lamborghini preferred a slightly more unhinged, bonkers approach. How times have changed.
The driving day was fantastic fun and allows us mere mortals the chance to experience cars which, without these red-letter companies could well stay on a dream to-do list for many years to come. Both cars offer an exclusive driving feel but their distinction is also their affinity – both offer a wonderful, lasting memory for any car nut.
Time to get writing to Santa….
June / July 2010