The issue at hand isn’t the dubious taste of owners or chronic machismo overload (though there’s certainly that), but rather the simple question of racing heritage.
In contrast to Italian neighbor Scuderia Ferrari’s epic multi-decade race involvement, Lamborghini’s 5-year-old, one-make Super Trofeo series looks like a navel gaze. Countering Lambo’s 21st- century solipsism is the long list of Porsches, Audis, McLarens, and Corvettes whose stock has been bolstered by hard- fought battles on the world’s racetracks.
Now, after more than a half-century of building road cars, the crew from Sant’Agata Bolognese is finally getting serious about motorsports, and the brand’s entry-level offering, the $237,250 Huracán —the first model in company history engineered from the ground up for race duty—is at the center of its efforts.
Hit 80, 90, 120 mph, and there’s an unflappable bond to the road that encourages otherwise-disastrous pedal-to-metal acceleration and aggressive steering inputs.
Phase one of Lamborghini’s racing renaissance is the Huracán LP 620-2 Super Trofeo we’re driving today, a car intended to be approachable enough for gentlemen racers but potent enough to groom drivers interested in moving up to the GT3 class, where a Raging Bull will run starting next year. The GT3 version of the Huracán, which is being developed concurrently with the Super Trofeo, will tackle five European circuits in the 2015 Blancpain GT3 series and the rest of the world in 2016.
The latest Super Trofeo was developed by Dallara Automobili, whose founder Gian Paolo Dallara was responsible for the Miura and Espada chassis. Mass has been trimmed thanks to extensive de- contenting, dropping curb weight to about 2,800 pounds. A rollcage extending to the rear shock towers offers 46 percent more torsional stiffness compared to the outgoing Gallardo Super Trofeo and “at least 70 percent” more rigidity than the road-going Huracán, according to chief test driver Giorgio Sanna.
A sequential six-speed gearbox from Xtrac replaces the dual-clutch unit, an Öhlins suspension steps in with revised spring and damper rates, and a Motec engine management system provides data acquisition capabilities. The eight-setting Motec traction control and 12-setting Bosch ABS system can be dialed in from a “‘Knight Rider”-style steering wheel, and more than twice the downforce as the road car is delivered courtesy of an adjustable rear spoiler the size of a park bench. Out of the box, a Huracán Super Trofeo runs $325,000; a $45,000 fee covers entry in the 2015 season and includes three sets of race tires per weekend. Food, lodging, transportation costs, maintenance, fuel, crash repairs, and umbrella girls are all on you.
The Super Trofeo is heavier than its FIA-regulated GT3 counterpart, but it’s also more powerful, as GT3 regulations restrict output to the mid-500 horsepower range. Here, the 5.2-liter V-10 is tuned to 612 hp. The discrepancy results in near-identical lap times, according to Sanna, although the GT3 delivers a different driving experience due to the interplay between higher downforce, lighter weight, and lower power.
Parked in pit lane at the 3.4-mile Formula 1 track in Sepang, Malaysia, the Huracán LP 620-2 Super Trofeo is an intimidating piece of kit, with the stock car’s flat expanses of bodywork broken up by a panoply of flics, ducts, and vents. The nose bears a squintier, meaner countenance than its off-the-rack counterpart, the entire rear section of the front quarter panel is eschewed for lightness, and the rear bumper is morphed into a lurid peekaboo of twin exhaust cannons, a gnarly rear differential, and a massive diffuser. The thin body panels are held together by Dzus fasteners.
Bull on a diet: Out goes the passenger seat, leather, and infotainment system. In goes racing computers and a multi-function racing steering wheel.
Strapped into a five-point racing harness, we take in the stark, stripped- down cabin. The only touches of propriety are Alcantara swaths on the dashboard and steering wheel; everything else is strictly for speed. The view ahead consists of a button-clad steering wheel and a 5-inch LCD screen with a bar graph tachometer, lap timer, and gear position indicator. LEDs above the tach illuminate in a green/blue/ red progression for a quick glance at the upper rev range. The rollcage meets bare metal body panels, and the sole seat in the house is the driver’s throne, a snug-fitting perch built by OMP from which all controls can be reached.
The startup procedure requires a press of the ignition button followed by the starter button, which cranks the V-10 until it fires to life. Hold the white Neutral button on the wheel with the foot clutch lever depressed while tapping the upshift paddle, and the transmission crunches into first gear. Let out the clutch with some throttle input, and that’s the last time you’ll engage your left foot (unless you use it for braking). A tap of the Pit button caps speed to 60 kph (37 mph) through ignition retardation, which creates a disconcertingly uneven, “broken” sound from the engine but enables an otherwise impossible-to- maintain perfect speed.
A green light at the pit signals it’s OK to tap that Pit button again, unleashing an unholy fury of power from the longitudinally mounted 10-cylinder. There’s quite a bit more midrange oomph than in the road car, and the sharp immediacy to the throttle far transcends the road car’s most aggressive setting, Corsa. A strong shove into the seat crescendos as the rev lights climb and the V-10 jags from a howl to a wail.
Bad influence: Stellar brakes and prodigious grip—enhanced by extra downforce— encourage aggressive driving.
Stabbing the brake pedal before the first corner brings violent deceleration without a hint of ABS intervention. This triggers a mental paradigm shift: Rather than worrying about staying in one piece, we realize we could have been going far faster, been braking far harder, and been on the gas again that much sooner to repeat the cycle. Another point of psychological acclimation is the paradox of downforce. The faster you go, the more this thing sticks. Hit 80, 90, 120 mph, and there’s an unflappable bond to the road that encourages otherwise-disastrous pedal-to-metal acceleration and aggressive steering inputs. Weight transfer that leads to understeer or oversteer is remarkably palpable in slow corners, thanks in part to the chassis stiffness and lack of feedback- muddying deadweight like nav systems, airbags, and stereo. Further clarifying the Super Trofeo’s feedback is a hydraulic steering system that replaces the electromechanical setup on the road car. Finally, the relative lack of punch at lower rpm urges you to keep the revs in the mid to upper portions, and the tach climbs with ferocious urgency, lighting up the LED indicators with blink-fast swiftness.
And then we’re back on the brakes. Stabbing the pedal harder reveals the incredible depth of stopping power, in part because the production car’s booster has been yanked to allow the driver a more honest assessment of how hard the pads are pressing against the rotors and because this slotted Brembo setup is considerably more robust than the stock hardware. Several laps in and we get a sense of the true braking point, where the sticky Pirellis start to slip, and when to reawaken the engine and lay on the gas. Gear shifts are instigated with a tap of the paddle shifter that responds with neural immediacy, and downshifts are met with rev-matched surges of throttle that make the engine feel deliciously alive.
That said, there were several times tapping the paddles did not trigger a gear change, perhaps a glitch that will be fixed with further development. There are some barely noticeable moments of traction control intervention (our tester was set to 5; 8 is off), but the car grips and communicates well enough to encourage controllable tail sliding and countersteering. The system was sufficiently permissive in that overcooking one slow corner created a yaw angle that overshot the intended path of travel. In other words, we spun out, and while furiously countersteering we accidentally tapped the Pit button, which led to an embarrassing moment of 37-mph cruising.
After the first of two 20-minute track sessions, the Huracán—inspired by the Spanish Conte de la Patilla breed known for its relentless attack and seemingly invincible nature—truly lives up to its name, leaving the legs like jelly from repeated brake jabs and the ears ringing from the howl of the naturally aspirated V-10’s 40-valve song. It’s a fitting buzz, just about the most stirring afterglow one could expect from a brand whose lineup has been named after fearsome bulls.
It’s no surprise that a race car is dramatically lighter, quicker, and sharper than its road-car counterpart; heightened athleticism and vivacity are a de rigueur byproduct of trimmed fat and focused performance. Beyond those inevitabilities lies the trial by fire the GT3 Huracán will undergo when it battles foes from McLaren, Porsche, and, of course, Ferrari on the racetrack. Even more intriguing? How those lessons learned will effect change in the road cars. We can look forward to even more capable and charismatic sheetmetal from Lamborghini.
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