Monday, 23 April 2012

Abarth: Make It Your Race 2012

If you're tired of Saturday night talent television shows dedicated to singing, dance troupes and balletic dogs, then Fiat's sporty Abarth division might have something a little more up your street.
Abarth's 'Make It Your Race 2012' programme seeks to shortlist 105 of the keenest aspiring racing drivers across Europe. Signing up on the registration form could be the first step in competing against other racer-wannabes from the UK, France, Belgium, Italy, Germany and Switzerland - countires with 19 different Formula One world champions between them. And they all had to start somewhere...
The initial shortlist of 105 non-professional drivers will take on the first stage of Make It Your Race 2012: an advanced driving course at the Varano Driving Academy in Parma, Italy. Of those, the best 24  will take on a new course at the Driving Academy – a race driving course, learning their craft in proper facilities under expert coaching. 
The candidiates will then be whittled down again to pick the best 6, for whom a very special treat awaits. The special six  will have the opportunity to race an Abarth 500 “Assetto Corse” track car against professional drivers, during the official Abarth Trophy test on the Franciacorta circuit (June 22-24 2012).
The first place finisher will then win an Abarth of their very own!
Tempted? Of course you are, and luckily, this isn't being run on a first come, first served basis - 10,000 registrations have been received already. So get your entry in sharpish at and it might just be you making that shortlist to kick off a dream summer!

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Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Should the baby Lambo grow up?

Lamborghini has trademarked the Deimos name, and sure as night follows day, the internet rumourmill has gone into overdrive over what will wear the badge inspired by the Greek god of 'the terror of war.'

The first Lambo SUV since the LM002 isn't the really interesting upcoming project from Sant'Agata though. For a while now I've been more interested in just how Lamborghini are going to go about replacing the ageing Gallardo, especially given how the 'baby supercar' game has moved since it first emerged in 2003.

While the Gallardo has been on the scene as the crucial entry-level model in Lambo's two car lineup, Ferrari replaced the 360 with the F430, and then blitzed that with the 458 Italia. Lambo's VAG cousin Audi gave us the revelatory R8 V8, and followed it up with the V10 iteration featuring the Gallardo's own motor in the back.

And then there's McLaren, who, despite what opinion you may hold of the MP4-12C's name, styling, or emotional tendencies, undeniably rewrote the rulebook on sports car chassis setup and dynamics.
This leaves me wondering, as the Gallardo soldiers on via special editions and pretend road racers (STS anyone?), what direction should the new one take?

Parent brand Audi, itself bankrolled by VW, has enjoyed massive sales success of late and could potentially put its hand deep enough into its pockets to fund a techno-showcase supercar like the 12C or 458. However, with McLaren's hydraulic non-ARB suspension patented to within an inch of its life, how can Lambo challenge without plaigirism?

If they plump to win the outright power war instead they'll need over 600 horses to knock out the 592bhp Macca, yet alone the 562bhp Ferrari. But if the 'New-llardo' gets over 600bhp, it'll be catching up to the range-topping 690bhp Aventador uncomfortably fast...
Lambo don't have a dual clutch transmission either, instead going for neck-snapping 'drama' in the Aventador. Audi are developing one for the next R8, but how bespoke will that make the New-llardo if it gets the same 'box?

It seems to me as if Lamborghini, much as I love 'em, are slightly caught out in no man's land. They're not as innovative as the F1-manufacturer road cars, and while I admit the Aventador does bring pushrod suspension and a full carbon cell to a new area of the marketplace, it's still a class above the Gallardo.

However, Lambo aren't the lunacy big boys any more either, as Pagani and Spyker have cornered the boutique esoteric supercar niche. Lamborghini are in the mainstream, but don't have the mainstream supercar advancements, so where does that leave them?

Motoring hacks would surely love the New-llardo to be manual only, have a RWD option, and drop weight rather than add power. But buyers are a fickle bunch and 'less is more' tends not to be viewed as progress by the likes of Lambo's clientele.

I'm very much looking foward to the new baby Lambo, because it's got some serious choices to make as it grows into its second iteration.

(Hopefully it'll be better looking than the Aventador too.)

This is a dramatic-looking motor vehicle. Not a good-looking one.

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