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Top Gear at the Ferrari World Finals
Whatever name you choose to go by, you may as well change it to ‘Not One Of The 40’. We are referring of course, to the 40 wealthy individuals who have purchased a LaFerrari FXXK, or indeed, just the ‘FXXK’, as Ferrari calls it. And you’re not one of them.
Having just heard this ‘LaFerrari-based’ track-car on a parade lap around the Yas Marina circuit this past weekend - a circuit that bore witness to Lewis Hamilton’s second Formula One world championship win barely two weeks back - being a part of this club of 40 must feel pretty bloody spectacular.
After all, the standard LaFerrari is as exquisite as it is powerful. The XX just turns everything up. And when we mean turn it up, we mean both philosophically and literally. With no silencers - because it adheres to no racing rules - it sounds positively insane. A good way for your ears to perish, then.
The FXXK formed the centrepiece for this year’s Ferrari World Finals - the ‘Mondiali’ - which moved from last year’s rain-soaked Mugello to the sun-drenched desert expanse of Abu Dhabi, home of course, to Ferrari World.
So what’s a ‘Mondiali’ then? Well, since 1993, it’s been Ferrari’s way of drawing the curtains on the motorsport season, inviting noted Ferrari alumni, owners and fans to help bring the racing year to a close. This year saw a bill packed to the rafters to sate the assembled fans of the Cavallino, including the final races of the three Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli series (Asia Pacific, Europe and North America), and the 458 Challenge.
There’s more to it than just gentleman racers swapping paint on track. Owners of the XX cars - think 599XX and FXX - put the track-specials through their paces, there was a 200+ car Ferrari road-car parade, demonstration laps of the two 458 GTEs that won at Le Mans earlier this year (in the GT classes, obviously), a roster of old Ferrari F1 cars run by wealthy owners doing circuit work, and the highlight: 2009 Le Mans winner Marc Gene and none other than 2007 F1 world champion Kimi Raikkonen going flat out in a pair of 2011 Ferrari F1 cars.
It’s a few days of watching Ferrari celebrating what it enjoys doing, then, irrespective of its F1 performance this year, naturally. And that XX programme was an undeniable highlight. Don’t forget, the original FXX blitzed around the TG track in the hands of Michael Stigmacher.
We managed to grab Marc Gene for a few minutes of chat; he’s a Ferrari test driver, and works for the F1 Clienti programme (that’s the one where buyers get to run classic Ferrari F1 machinery), but spends some of his time with XX owners. “First of all the clients see their cars being built,” he told us. “They get some bits customised, then when the car is ready they get into the simulator, and then it comes to the shakedown with an instructor on board.”
The point of the XX programme is primarily to allow Ferrari to push the boundaries of its technical expertise and build bewinged track monsters that don’t need to adhere to any regulations, and allow wealthy owners the chance to live out a life as a bona fide Ferrari tester/racing driver.
“Their input from the XX programme is going to have an effect on the road car division,” says Gene. They hammer around the track, while Ferrari logs all the data and discovers what Ferrari customers - the people that keep the cogs of the company spinning - actually want in their cars. You have them to thank, in part, for the company’s current line-up.
So the customers are a fundamental part of the process, but the cars just happen to be absolutely ear-shatteringly gorgeous to behold; trust us, the sound of a 700bhp 599XX and FXX machine-gunning down the Yas Marina straight and then rifling through downshifts like mortar fire is something that will stay with you for a while.
It’s why the FXXK is now among us, a car that Gene admits won’t spawn an FXXK ‘Evo’ (like the 599XX Evo), because quite frankly, it’s more than powerful enough. “The first time I drove the FXXK I just couldn’t believe that you could drive something so powerful. It is so powerful.
“I’ve only experienced something like that in Formula One. LaFerrari FXXK… it’s definitely on that kind of level,” he says, with a reserved reverence. “I don’t think the clients of the FXXK will have ever driven anything this fast or this advanced.” One can only wonder how the seeds of this 1050bhp Ferrari laboratory will bear fruit in the company’s future road cars. Be afraid.
A fine time then, to remind you that while you might never even get a whiff of the FXXK, you can at least experience some of its savagery. A quick mention of Ferrari World, if you permit; the Scuderia’s very own Disneyland. Sure, it’s a neat introduction for those few people left on earth unfamiliar with what Ferrari is all about, but we can’t help but wonder what Enzo would have thought of the monster theme park.
Yet we must urge you to ignore the branded camels (no, really) and Ferrari lollipops, and head straight for Formula Rossa. It’s the world’s fastest rollercoaster, and it will terrify you. Though you might be Not One Of The 40, you can at least get the chance to experience mind-blowing acceleration that’d put a Veyron to shame. Just try not to be sick.
Click through to see more pictures from Ferrari’s spectacular Mondiali event at Abu Dhabi