ITíS CUSTOMARY FOR THE CAR OF THE YEAR ISSUE EDITORíS COLUMN TO BE ABOUT COTY. BUT I CANíT. IíM BUSTING TO TELL SOMEBODYÖ I JUST GOT BACK FROM DRIFTING LAMBORGHINIS IN QATAR.
The launch invitation said the day at the Losail GP circuit would challenge our appetite for dynamic driving and drifting. It actually said drifting, which is rare. It was the Lamborghini Huracan LP580-2 launch, so whether the invite said it or not, drifting was always going to happen.
What the pictures on pages 30-33 donít show is the three or four failed drifting attempts I had along with the successful ones. Being a bloke in a hurry, I shook the Huracanís rear loose a little too vigorously on the way into the corner the first time. I made the apex, facing the wrong way. The pendulous nature of a 40/60 weight distribution should never be underestimated. Still, even those embarrassing spins were fun, in an ďIíve got itÖ Iíve got itÖ Iíve got itÖ aah bugger!Ē kinda way.
The week before, I was driving a 911 GT3 RS on the Oxley Highway. Wheels was the first media outlet to get its hands on one in Australia, and we put it up against its Cayman GT4 little brother for a future issue. As editor, I felt it was my duty to help road tester Stephen Corby wrangle these two magnificent machines on Australiaís best road for three days. Duty is such a burden, right?
In November it was seven days testing 58 cars with seven other car nuts for Wheels Car of the Year, the results of which Iím sure youíll have an opinion on. Fire away, weíre dying to hear what you think: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A couple of months back I went to Phillip Island for Mercedes-AMGís top-level driver training course. Participants spent the day driving a variety of AMG passenger vehicles (no SUVs) with a professional race driver riding shotgun. Their job was to make me go faster. Faster than I went the lap before, and faster than Iíd go on my own. That last bitís important, because itís no easy thing to ignore your own mortality.
There were times piling into the Southern Loop where I thought I was the last of the great late-brakers, and Carrera Cup wunderkind Matt Campbell Ė who helped us out last issue with our seven-car epic tour of Tasmania Ė berated me for getting on the picks too early and holding íem too long. Understeer, he said, is useful for washing off speed while also getting started on the corner. The next lap around he told me exactly when to brake, and when to lift, and I did. And we went faster, and I didnít die. But I would never have braked that late, or carried that much speed on my own.
As I write this Ė a day after deadline as is tradition with the editorís letter Ė Iíve got a headcold from the 14-hour plane ride back from Qatar.
Last night was deadline night, and we were all in here until 11pm putting this 196-page issue to bed with AC/DC driving us home. And you know what?
Not a single one of the lads whinged about the late night. They never do. Probably because my last three months reads a lot like theirs.
I sat down with Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann while in Qatar. Now thereís a bloke who also thinks his job is the best in the world.
Unlike other VW Group executives who shuffl e postings every 2-3 years, Stephan has been CEO of Lamborghini for 10 years now. Heís enthused by Lamborghiniís future, particularly the 2018 arrival of the Urus. Adding an SUV to a pure supercar brand is risky, but the more I spoke with him, the more he convinced me that Lamborghiniís core values will not change.