Luffy Says

The gospel truth from our wizard wheelman

Porsche 911 GT3 – 1m30.9

“THIS thing is unbelievable. On the limit it is so easy to drive; it gives so much confidence.

It gives a lot of feedback, it’s very smooth, it’s very direct and it’s a car that wants to be driven harder. The engine, the gearbox, the brakes – you can see that a lot of time has been put into this car, and it shows in the lap time. Worthy of the fastest tag around Winton. Probably the greatest flaw is that I don’t own one!”

AMG GT S – 1m32.5

“The GT S is interesting in that, its predecessor the SLS was always more road car than track car. The GT S takes everything to the next level. The engine is unbelievable, and the brakes go deep, but you need to clear the brake early into corners, because if you trail-brake it has the same tendency as the SLS to come around at the rear. It’s got so much front-end grip that you’re better off to use that and then square off the exit of the corner.”

F-Type R AWD – 1m35.8

“I was always a fan of the rear-drive F-Type, but on track it struggled for balance. It had a fantastic engine, but it was so tail-happy that you never had the confidence to push on. With AWD, this car gives you the confidence to push hard without taking any character away. The engine’s great and the chassis fantastic. The gearbox is the only thing that lets it down. I could definitely live with this car.”

AMG C63 – 1m36.3

“Unbelievable on the limit. It’s a very physical car and the damping in RACE makes the car very stiff. Around Winton there are quite a few small bumps, so it tends to move around a fair bit. But it gives a lot of feedback in terms of steering and acceleration. Through the top section you have to be so smooth when you get back on [the throttle] as it wants to light up the tyres. Give it to me in a wagon and I’ll be very happy.”

Lexus RC F – 1m38.1

“A pleasant surprise. I thought it would be subdued on circuit – typical Lexus – [but] it was fun on the limit and very forgiving. You can drive it into corners with heaps of speed and it keeps gripping without wanting to bring the tail around. If you get hard on the throttle you can definitely get the back end out. Not quite as quick as the C63, but you can see what it’s aiming for. Unbelievable engine.”


Renault Trophy-R – 1m38.3

“At BFYB (November ’15) it was much colder and the car struggled for tyre temp, so it was much harder to drive. Today transformed the car. It’s such a quick thing on the limit. You can push it hard and it’s still got that fun characteristic of the back wanting to step out. The speed of the upshifts hurt its lap time, but for the ultimate in front-drive hot hatches, nothing comes close to this. It puts some of the big rear-drive V8s to shame.”

BMW i8 – 1m38.9

“I’m surprised with not only how fast it is, but how accurate it is. The tyres are not a performance tyre but up through the sweeper and the change of direction, the thing had a huge amount of lateral grip. What did let it down was the gearbox; even in Sport mode it second-guesses the gear selection. It could clearly be made faster, but in the real-world in terms of what it’s designed to do, it scores an absolute 10/10.”

Holden VF II SS – 1m39.5

“A huge amount of fun; it hasn’t just been a few badges to give it an update. Big Aussie cars have always struggled with brakes around Winton, but after two hard laps the brakes are still there.

Most importantly, it gives you confidence. It’s even a good amount of taily on the way-in and it doesn’t feel like a 1800kg sedan. The V8 also has a great crackle that comes through the cabin; it almost sounds like you’re in the GT or C63.”

Ford Falcon XR8 – 1m40.6

“It is such a great engine. There has been so much work put into the engine, but unfortunately these days a great engine no longer makes a great car. The car in general feels old and tired and you can literally see that the end is near for it. More time needed to be put into the ergonomics, suspension and overall feel of the car. Great engine, but in the company that it’s surrounded by, it’s certainly outclassed.”

Peugeot 208 GTi – 1m42.3

“It’s fun, but it tends to have that typical frontwheel drive understeer when pushed to the limit.

The ABS tends to trigger very easily on the way into the corner which creates understeer. Once you figure that out, it’s a good, fun car. Like the Renault, the gearbox is a bit vague and not overly direct in up- and downchanges. And I’m not a fan of the seating position and steering wheel. Overall, a great car and a fantastic hot hatch.”

Mazda MX-5 – 1m47.1

“If fun was a criterion, this thing would be an outright winner for sure. It’s crying out for another 100hp, but the overall chassis dynamics means that it is something you can get into that will move around and slide. It is not over-tyred, so it doesn’t dumb everything down too much. It’s really a car you can throw around and just have a lot of fun, but it’s also very safe. Certainly thumbs up for this one.”