Cars with Jan Coomans. A Lamborghini weekend in Spain

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Traveling from Moscow in late October to a Spanish town (suitably preheated to 27 degrees Celcius) to witness the Lamborghini Super Trofeo World Finals would be a pretty good excuse to «work» on the weekend. But then it got even better when we were given the chance to drive the latest and greatest versions of both the Huracan and Aventador…

Just in case you’ve never heard of it, the single make Lamborghini Super Trofeo racing series has regional championships in Europe, the US and Asia. The grids are made up entirely of Huracan Super Trofeo Evo cars — which are very closely related to the GT3 class Huracans that take part in GT series around the world. Then there’s the over-arching «World» series in which the best teams and drivers from the regional series race to find out who’s the fastest of them all. This year, the finals of all Super Trofeo series took place on the Jerez racetrack in Spain. Long ago, this place was home to the F1 Spanish Grand Prix when one Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve collided in spectacular fashion and the latter became world champion. These days, it’s most often used by motorbikes but still it hasn’t lost any of its awesomeness for four wheeled motorsport.

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There was a busy schedule of races all weekend long in order to wrap up the season for all these different championships consisting of different classes made up of pro, pro-am and amateur drivers. So there was uncharacteristically little peace and quiet in this usually rather sleepy part of Southern Spain. But because literally every car on track was a Huracan Evo Super Trofeo with a naturally aspirated V10 engine and fairly loud exhaust system, it was music to any car lover’s ears. You wouldn’t know most of the people driving (heck, I didn’t either) so I won’t go into too many details. Some were victorious while others were left to look towards next year for better luck. What mattered was that there was great close racing and lots of action wherever you looked, which is usually the case when everyone has essentially the same car. It’s all up to the drivers to make the difference, which is how racing should be.

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Of course, one of the things I was most eager to do was drive some cars myself, and there were plenty of test cars on location to take for a nice extended test drive. Having already sampled the Huracan Evo at Moscow Raceway earlier this year, I had a pretty good idea of what the car was like but I was still eager to give it a go on regular roads. And, I mean, it’s a Lamborghini. You’re just not going to say no, are you? One thing about the Huracan is that it has a switch on the steering wheel that lets you choose whether you want your supercar to be remarkably quiet and sedate or alternatively you cann turn it into a raging lunatic. No prizes for guessing which mode I prefer. The default «strada» setting does have its uses, mind you. When the road surface gets a little rough the dampers will be set sufficiently soft to avoid occupants needing urgent dental work afterwards. But «sport» or «corsa» are where the real fun starts, obviously.

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Once you click the switch and go into sport mode, the dashboard gets some yellow flair added to it and the exhaust tone undergoes a fairly dramatic chance. And when I say fairly dramatic, I’m talking Leo DiCaprio sinking to the icy depths with Kate Winslet clinging on to a piece of wood levels of drama. It’s not particularly subtle or even unexpected, but also kind of the point of the whole thing. If you want something more understated, I suppose one could go and buy an Audi R8 instead. In any case, the Huracan Evo is a lively little thing and if you go into corsa mode things get taken up another notch. In this setting the car is just as loud, and the throttle pedal would probably be held at airport security for suspected cocaine abuse, but it also forces you to use the huge metal flappers to shift gears. The electronic driving also seem to be a little bit tighter in corsa than in sport, allowing slightly less slip presumably because it’s the faster way around a racetrack.

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But all of this car’s features pale in comparison to its engine. It doesn’t just make a loud racket, it fires you down the road with a ferocity which must be felt to be believed. There are so few large naturally aspirated engines left in the world that we’ve almost forgotten just how amazing they can be. And this 5.2 litre V10 with a rev limit of more than 8500 RPM is one of the all time greats. It’s pretty much as brilliant as the 4 litre flat six from Porsche’s GT department except that this has another hundred horsepower more. A hundred! The most accurate desciption of the whole thing, though admittedly not particularly poetic or at risk of winning any literary prizes, would be wow, wow, wow. And the dual clutch gearbox is on point as well. Lightning quick, seamless and suitable to each and every style of driving. With everything dialed up to maximum madless, you could be forgiven for thinking you’re in a race car.

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That would be wrong though. As part of the three day racing activities we also got to spend a couple of laps in the passenger seat of a Super Trofeo Evo spec Huracan. It goes without saying that I would have happily parted with one or even several of my organs to drive this thing aroung the Jerez track myself, but as that wasn’t on offer I didn’t mind just going along for the ride too much. It passes the time. Very quickly, in fact. Not that it came as news to me, but genuine racecars are so far ahead of their roadcar equivalents that it’s hardly possible to describe the difference using actual words. There’s just loads of G-forces pulling you from one direction to the other with hardly any transition in between. These things are also comfortable only for the person driving them. The passenger is pretty much a rag doll at the mercy of all the sudden changes in direction. And in my case the leg room was insufficient to the point that I was pretty much folded in half. That, together with a not quite properly tensioned 6-point seat belt, meant that every time the driver hit the brakes and some pretty incredible deceleration ensued, my man parts were at risk of being permanently disabled as they were given the unsuitable task of absorbing most of the force. Good thing that we didn’t hit anything, I don’t think having a high voice would suit me very much.

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With all that behind us, I could turn my attention to a car I hadn’t ever driven before: the mighty Aventador SVJ. The fastest production car around the Nurburgring Nordschleife. Even by just looking at it, you can tell that this car is in quite a different league from the Huracan. The visual differences are in line with the step up in price tag, I would say. Nobody could claim that a Huracan isn’t a sleek supercar, but the Aventador’s roof line is considerably lower still. It’s longer too, and its nose is easily sharp enough to cut through a super sized baguette. Not sure that’s the official description, but it works for me. The whole car looks like a missile, and I thought the white paint job on our test car worked really well too. I can see why these things are so popular along the more affluent squares and boulevards of Southern Europe. If getting noticed is your cup of tea, I’m not sure there’s anything you could drive that would get you more attention than an Aventador. Maybe a batmobile. Maybe.

The driving experience though, is … an experience. Nobody at Lamborghini is denying that the Aventador is a slightly ageing monster, and that’s exactly what it feels like. It comes from an era where supercars were still impractical and difficult to handle monsters. And it’s grumpy. While the Huracan Evo always seemed to be egging you on to drive it fast and enjoying it, flooring the throttle in the Aventador is more like stepping on the tail of a tiger who hasn’t seen any food for a while. There’s a distinct risk of getting eaten. The massive 6.5 litre naturally aspirated V12 produces a massive 770 horsepower and is fairly vocal about it, but unless you’re letting it absolutely howl to its red line I have to say that it’s not quite as loud as the Huracan is. It also doesn’t feel faster than the smaller car, at least to me, though if you’re brave enough to look down at the dashboard the numbers being displayed there are often a lot bigger than you expected.

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The single clutch robotized gearbox can only be described as from the previous century. For once, the word «smooth» would be totally useless here. It doesn’t do smooth. It can do jerky, it can do rough, and it can do both these things and do them slowly. In any other car, this gearbox would be a deal breaker, a fatal flaw. In a car as absurd and insane as the Aventador though, it’s manageable. If anything, it’s in line with the rest of the car’s character. You’re driving an unhinged dinosaur with a coke habit. It’s an old school supercar which, unlike its contemporaries, is not easy to live with. It’s not like you can see anything in the rear view mirror for example. And I kept knee-butting the stalk on the steering column that controls the windscreen wipers. Also, if you’re a celebrity in a mini skirt, you better hope there are no papparazzi about while you’re busy trying to get out of an Aventador or suddenly your big entrance might suddenly seem a little ill advised. This whole car is a celebration of old school supercars — the kind which mostly disappeared so long ago that we’ve now forgotten how difficult they used to be to live with.

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But take it out for a drive we most certainly did, and that experience was memorable in many ways. The Aventador was too wide and simply too much car for most of the Spanish B roads that we found ourselves on, and after having seen it get literally stuck ithe day before in a small street with a tight corner in a nearby town there was a constant fear of coming across a small but insurmountable obstacle of some kind. It probably requires a racetrack if you want to push the envelope, especially as many of the smaller roads in Southern Spain seem to have some really weird kind of asphalt that just doesn’t provide any grip. It’s almost like driving on a polished basketball court. When driving semi enthusiastically the car was moving all over the place and under hard braking it wasn’t keeping very straight either. Loads of respect to the guy who set the record lap time in the SVJ, it really is an animal. But one that we most certainly hope will not go extinct. The world is a better place with it still alive. But at the end of the day, the Huracan Evo is probably the one whose key I’d want to have in my pocket.

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Being immersed in Lamborghini and the sound of those big naturally aspirated engines for an entire weekend was a terrific experience. And what’s striking is how friendly and good natured the whole thing is — it really is a family. A family of car crazed people with enough money and little enough common sense to make the whole thing possible, but a family nonetheless. You’d have to be made out of stone to not want to be a part of that. Or to have a car like that.

19 ноября 2019
Jan Coomans для раздела Авто