THE ACADEMY OF BLISS
WHAT ELSE DO YOU CALL A DRIVING ACADEMY THAT LETS YOU DRIFT-DRIVE, SLIP-SLIDE A LAMBORGHINI ON A RACE TRACK ASKS VIKRANT SINGH
Of course, I’ve driven a fair share of supercars both on a race track and on the road. There have been Ferraris, Lamborghinis and the Mercedes SLS AMG. Though these were monumental experiences, I’d never really explored the wild side of a supercar. Their stratospherically high pricing has been the paramount reason for this apprehension, not to mention, the great Indian road. Then there’s the small matter of car control, or the lack thereof. I can drive, and reasonably fast, but when it comes to pushing cars with over 500bhp close to their adhesion limit, I am just too chicken! But now, after an incredible day spent driving on a race track at Beijing, China, I am not a supercar-drift virgin anymore! In fact, I can now drift both a two-wheel drive and a four-wheel drive supercar, and even stitch up two drifts into one piece of silk. Well, it may not have been as smooth as silk, but I managed, which is quite the accomplishment in itself.
Before we dig in deeper let me explain drifting to the uninitiated. Consider a corner. You turn into it and if you are not too fast, you’ll trace a nice corner-hugging arc and make it to the other side,
drama free. But that’s no fun. To drift around a corner, the car must slide. So, you go into the corner faster than you sanely should, turn in hard and as you do, you’ll feel the rear end car braking free and trying to overtake the front. If you are not quick enough to steer the car back in the direction of the slide to hold the drift, you will spin.
And on a public road, you will certainly end up wrapped around a tree or another car, or whatever immovable object meets your irresistible supercar. So, the safest bet is to do it on a race track and that’s where the Beijing Lamborghini Driving Academy comes in.
The latest in a line of driving academies across the world, the curriculum is set up by the Italian supercar maker to promote road safety and good driving behaviour. Nowhere near as boring as the philosophy indicates, the experience was about getting to know the car, gauging its abilities, testing its limits, and having a blast.
The day began with a course on over-steering. The setup was simple; a wet surface and some cones. There were two supercars - a 550bhp, two-wheel drive Lamborghini Gallardo LP 550-2 and a 560bhp, four-wheel drive Gallardo 560-4. The directions were simple too. Enter the test area, turn left, mash the throttle to the floor, get the rear to snap out and then hold it on throttle and steering inputs. The execution, though was not so simple. With so much power on tap and a wet surface, controlling the wheel was a challenge. I ended up spinning completely the first few times. But as the day progressed, I did get the hang of it.
What I also got a handle on, was that four-wheel drive is more functional when you have limited drifting experience. It’s simpler, more progressive and more controllable.
With oversteering somewhat mastered, we headed to the Pendulum course. The goal was to set the Lamborghini drifting in one direction, catch it and then get it to drift the other way, all in a seamless series of movements. Before the end , I got the four-wheel LP560-4 to drift left and then right in one go. Of course, it still remained a lot clumsier than it had been in my dreams. But, at least I lived the dream.
The day closed with hot laps around the short but twisty circuit. You lap behind the pace car, but the harder you push the pace car, the faster it goes. If you can keep it together, towards the end the going gets real quick. It’s close to what you might experience if you ever choose to go racing in a supercar. It’s frighteningly fast, terribly scary and the adrenaline rush is just too addictive.
The author is Editor of Auto Bild
Drifting on a turn in a Lamborghini Gallard LP is just as hard as it looks