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

India Today - - AUTO -

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

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