So who does care? Well, dear reader, I do. Just a bit. Ok, I couldn’t give a damn about which two-tonne SUV goes fastest around any race track any more than I’d care which F1 car was best at towing a horsebox: that is not what these things are for. But when I discovered earlier this week that a Lamborghini had not just broken the production car lap record but shattered it, I had to find out more, read the release, watch the video. For this was not some new Lambo hypercar, nor even its Aventador flagship but the forthcoming ‘Performante’ version of the Huracan. And it’s just gone five seconds faster than a Porsche 918.
I’ll admit that part of my fascination is that, twenty-something years after I first went to the Ring, I still love watching cars on the limit there and when a car is going for the record, there is another dimension. Was what Lamborghini test driver Marco Mapelli thinking as he blasted over the old start line and into the Hatzenbach for the first time, knowing he had just one lap left in the day to do the time, and that Lambo boss Stefano Domenicali was waiting back in the pits? Was this just another few minutes in the office, was it fun, was it terrifying and just how much pressure was he under?
There are more prosaic reasons too: say what you like about the Nürburgring but of all the places I’ve raced, it’s the one that’s most like the public road of our dreams, which is why manufacturers across the spectrum test here. A sports car that feels good around the Ring will likely feel good on the open road too, an important point the naysayers too quickly forget.
Another part is analysing the lap and seeing whether it could be materially improved, and that’s one of the most staggering things about this lap: it was good, but it wasn’t perfect. Not every apex was clipped and from time to time he’s understandably having a bit of a wrestle with it. But that’s what happens when you put everything out there, and you can’t argue with the results.