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201326 Mar

lamborghini track day bic

The three Gallardos line up in the pits at the Buddh International Circuit. These include the Gallardo LP550-2 (white), LP570-4 Superleggera (orange) and LP560-4 (yellow).

 

Lamborghini, which is part of the Volkswagen Group, organised a Track Day at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida, near Delhi, for some of its prospective clientele. autojunction.in was there too, and we got behind the wheel of a brace of Raging Bulls. Here is our account.

 

Growing up, many posters of cars and bikes adorned my walls. Among them was a Lamborghini Countach. Like countless dreamy-eyed kids around the world, I always dreamed of piloting some exotic machinery around a track in anger. So when Lamborghini called and offered me some seat time, I was always going to say yes.

 

On track were three cars, all from the Gallardo family. These included the Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4, Lamborghini Gallardo LP550-2 and the Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera. What’s the difference, you ask? Let me explain.

Firstly, the code “LP” stands for “Longitudinale Posteriore”, which is Italian for “engine mounted longitudinally, in the back”. What that means is that in the Gallardo, the engine is behind the passenger compartment, and is mounted longitudinally, which is to say that the crankshaft rotates longitudinally along the length of the car.

The Gallardo LP550-2 has 550 horsepower, and is two-wheel drive, while the LP560-4 has 560 horsepower and has 4-wheel drive, while the LP570-4 Superleggera has 570 horsepower, four-wheel drive, and is ultra-lightweight compared to its siblings.

Simple enough, really, once you crack the code.

 

pawan shetty lamborghini india

Pawan Shetty, Head of Lamborghini India, with the new-look Gallardo. He's confident that Lamborghini has a strong future in India.

 

All the three cars that Lamborghini India brought to the track have 5.2-litre V10 engines, driving through a 6-speed robotised manual gearbox, with paddle shifters on the steering column. Of course, you can leave well enough alone and simply drive these cars as a regular automatic, as I suspect most owners will end up doing.

 

Our time on the track was brief. After a customary debriefing by Lamborghini’s instructors, we were taken on a passenger ride, which doubled up as a sighting lap. Cones on the circuit indicated the ideal braking and turn-in zones, with the instructors pointing out the ideal line.

Back to the pits and helmets donned, it was straight into the thick of the action.

Three laps were all we had, which included one out lap, one flying lap, and an in lap.

 

Of the three cars, we would be driving the Gallardo LP550-2 and the 570-4 Superleggera, to showcase the two ends of the Gallardo spectrum.

 

lamborghini

White, or orange, Sir? Perhaps you'd like to try both? Be our guest.

 

I first got behind the wheel of the Superleggera. It’s basic in there, with a simple lever to adjust your seat position, like you would find in a cheap hatchback. A mere strap suffices as a pull to shut the doors, and there are no creature comforts to speak of. Of course, you get bright colours and a wild rear spoiler, but that’s it.

Following the course car on the out lap, I was immediately surprised by how ‘normal’ everything seemed. Of course, you sit low to the ground, but on track it feels just right. The Superleggera is stripped to keep weight down, so you can hear the engine in all its mechanical glory just behind your head, with overtones of the exhaust adding to the fun. The steering is very heavy and the brakes require you to really stand on them, but after the first lap pussy-footing around the course, Giorgio, our Italian pace car driver, decided to bury his right foot. As the yellow 560-4 got smaller and smaller, it was do or die.

I gamely gave chase in the Superleggera, and was surprised at how quickly it responded. In a moment, I was jolted from my reverie of driving a Lamborghini on track, to actually living the moment. And that’s when I began to fall in love. Never, and I mean never, have I driven a car which felt so instinctively, intuitively right. Foot buried, pulling the lever for upshifts at 7,000 rpm, I watched the needles wind clockwise on the Gallardo’s simple dashboard as I ripped down the long back straight to Turn 4. Chickening out as I crested the blind rise, I glanced down at the speedometer. 270 km/h. And I was almost at the cones denoting the braking zone. Standing on the brakes, I felt the Superleggera hunker down and just grip the surface. From then on, the next one-and-a-half laps was pure, unadulterated, wanton passion.

The steering is so communicative, it’s like driving in Braille. The same goes for the seat-of-the-pants feel at the rear of the car. When a car affords that level of ‘feel’, there’s not much else you can ask for. The brakes felt wooden though, and while undoubtedly extremely powerful, didn’t feel progressive to use. For people like me though, who spend 99.9 % behind the wheel of a mundane hatchback or sedan, it is difficult, if not nearly impossible, to get a feel for the bite point in such a vehicle. Still, corner after corner, as one gains confidence, you tend to brake later, carrying more speed through the corners. The Gallardo goes through them as if on rails, and despite the body hugging bucket seat, you can truly feel the g-forces.

 

On the way in to the pits, as I shifted up early and let the brakes cool, I had a moment to ponder. Did I just spend the last 10 minutes or so of my life chucking 3 crores of metal, glass and carbon fibre from corner to corner? Caressing the chunky suede steering wheel, I almost didn’t want it to end.

 

But the other Gallardo, the LP550-2, awaited me in the pits…

 

Pardon the phrase, but this one felt like a “brother from another mother”. What greets you as you straddle the sill and sink into the 550-2’s seat is a plush, if austere cabin. There’s air-conditioning. And powered seats. Brushed chrome inserts on the dashboard. And a stereo. It’s all very Volkswagen Automotive Group Sales in here, alright, and you wouldn’t miss any of the switchgear on an Audi or Vee-Dub.

 

The sound inside the cabin is considerably damped, but it is still loud. You wouldn’t want to own one of these if you couldn’t hear it, now would you? If anything, it sounds more refined, if not as visceral as the Superleggera.

 

The increase in weight, about 40 kilos, plus the lack of four-wheel drive, meant that the 550-2 felt like a completely different animal. While feeling almost quite as aggressive under flat-out acceleration, the softer suspension set up and rear-wheel drive mean you have to be more careful through corners. Under hard braking, you will feel the rear squirming around, and you cannot boot it on exit unless you want to be facing the wrong way, even though it has ESP.

But it is undoubtedly the cabin you’d want to be in if you plan to drive your Gallardo on a regular basis, and not just at the track. There are plenty of concessions to comfort, but best of all, it feels so normal and unpretentious. The knurled switches on the dashboard are a particularly nice touch.

 

Lamborghini celebrates 50 years this year. From a company that started because its founder didn’t like anything on sale and wanted to build his own supercar, to one which is today part of the biggest automotive group in the world, this Raging Bull continues to fight strong. Arguably, Lamborghini is the only brand which can rival Ferrari. It may not have the racing heritage or sporting success of the Prancing Horse, but in every other way, it is a worthy rival.

Today, Lamborghini is sold around the world, on every continent. Last year, the company managed to sell just 25 cars in India, but is confident of doubling that number in the next three years. With exotic and incredibly sexy machinery like the Gallardo, not to forget the bigger, faster, more powerful and insane Aventador, both of which are ultimately usable as well, it’ll be entirely possible.

 

lamborghini track day

 

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Aboard the Raging Bulls: Lamborghini Track Day

Lamborghini, which is part of the Volkswagen Group, organised a Track Day at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida, near Delhi, for some of its prospective clientele. autojunction.in was there too, and we got behind the wheel of a brace of Raging Bulls. Here is our account.

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