Lotus wants a little more civility to its sports cars. Plus, of course, electricity
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That looks… angry. Quite. Lamborghinis aren’t ordinarily shy, retiring supercars, and this Huracán developed by the company’s in-house racing team Squadra Corse is straight-up ready to fight. In the pursuit of speed, of course. All the speed. OK, so what is it? An update on Squadra Corse’s 2015 Huracán GT3 racer – which has claimed both Daytona and Spa 24hr race wins, and won favour with fast footwear sporting gentleman racers and professionals alike – handily dubbed Evo. That’s short for Evolution. But you already knew that. What you didn’t already know is that the new GT3 Evo further hones the brief over its predecessor through its merciless pursuit of speed, and ability to not terrify its fee-paying audience. Giorgio Sanna, Squadra Corse boss, explains that, indeed, the new Evo distils the three years of circuit racing the Huracán GT3 has clocked up.
“The main objective during development was to improve drivability, making the car easier and more predictable for gentleman drivers, with low management costs for the teams,” he told us. A good thing, because the last thing I drove with slicks and wings was a decrepit Formula Renault at Thruxton two decades ago. But that’s a story for another day. Before the inevitable crash, tell me about the biggest changes between the Evo and its predecessor. The most obvious development from GT3 to Evo is in the aero, developed in conjunction with Dallara. Up front, the front splitter manages to be even more aggressive than before; there’s also a large central rib from the Huracán Super Trofeo Evo racer, which aids cooling. Swing around the back and you’ll spot a supersized rear wing that doubles up as the pit crew’s dining table in the evening. It’s fitted with twisted end plates to aid stability. Throw in the largest rear diffuser this side of Ford’s endurance racing GT, and racing exhausts and you have all the ingredients for scaring any itinerant wildlife within a two-mile radius. Long story short, the Evo looks and sounds outright angry, sat there on its air jacks in Vallelunga’s pit lane. We suspect that engine is worth a celebration in itself, no? Correct. The Evo features the latest iteration of the naturally aspirated 5.2-litre V10 used in the Huracán, here sporting new camshafts and titanium valves to provide greater reliability for endurance races. Let’s repeat that: a big, naturally aspirated and further honed V10. Noise is not an issue. To aid drivability and minimise pitch, the front suspension has been revised and now features arms made from billet aluminium (replacing its predecessor’s steel ones), while the rear axle features new hubs, bearings and axle shafts in place of the constant velocity joints for increased reliability. The Öhlins shock absorbers have been switched for new four-way units to increase control in “the roll phase”, and to survive the regular kerb battering gentlemen drivers enjoy performing to look fast on Instagram. The team at Sant’Agata has raided the Volkswagen Group’s parts bin too: the steering is now an electro-hydraulic setup more in line with the system used in the Porsche GT3. It allows the driver to dial up the level of assistance during a long stint. The ABS is all-new as well, and works in conjunction with the Bosch ABS M5 system. In short, Squadra Corse has thrown everything it can at this car in the pursuit of speed, while keeping broadly to the same basic format. That means current Huracán GT3 owners can upgrade to Evo spec, a smart move given the 70 GT3s sold to date globally. Does the Huracán GT3 Evo move… smartly? We’ll come to that shortly. It’s clear this isn’t an ordinary Sunday morning when I head into the Squadra Corsa race truck to change and I’m met by Lamborghini works driver Marco Mapelli in his budgie smugglers. His name, if not his attire, should at least be familiar. He’s the man responsible for sending the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ around the Nürburgring in 6m 44.97s, and the Huracán Performante in 6m 52s. He knows things. Like how to put heat into a race car so mere mortals can experience it properly. Now suitably dressed and installed into the Evo, Mapelli sets off around the track, accompanied by a Huracán Super Trofeo for good measure. Conscious that I’m up next, I’m concerned that the assembled Lamborghini fans may wonder if Mapelli has taken a sedative before his second stint… The GT3 Evo arrives back into the pit lane and it’s my turn. I thread myself through the roll cage (developed to make entry and exit easier) and lower myself into the seat before an angry mechanic, clearly not delighted with his new charge being handed over to some journalists, goes to town on my five-point harness. Without going into too much detail, inside a ten-second period I am bolted into the Evo so fiercely I’ve become a structural element of the car. And am talking two octaves higher. Ahead of me lies a steering wheel littered with knobs, and while the interior structure is familiar, it is festooned with unfamiliar and expensive-looking buttons. Moderately alarming, considering I missed the technical briefing explaining The Buttons. “Er, so Marco, what do I need to know,” I ask in my new squeaky register. “Don’t touch anything, hand clutch to get you moving, this button to cancel the pit-lane limiter, gears as normal… enjoy,” and with that he smiles, shuts the door, I’m dropped off the air jacks and nothing happens. Marco leans in and presses the start button. Oops. The V10 fires to life, I gently release the hand clutch with the bottom two fingers on my left hand and proceed up the pit lane. A bead of sweat runs down into my eye, brilliant. And so, half blind, I press the pit speed button and head out behind the Super Trofeo. And, did you survive? Let’s talk about the track first. Vallelunga is a track of two halves: the first half is a series of long flowing straights punctuated by heavy braking into two right handers; the second a more complex series of on- and off-camber corners joined by a shorter blasts. The out lap done, I round the final right-hander in the wake of my Super Trofeo pace car and blast past the pits. Like all GT3 cars the Evo’s acceleration is rapid but not hypercar dramatic. Oh sure, it’s fast, but it’s the high-speed stability, braking capability and relentless grip that blow your mind. Once you gain confidence in the car’s high-speed stability, it all feels rather undramatic, approachable even. Burying the brake pedal as late and as hard as I think is sanely possible, the Evo sheds pace with a surefooted capability, so surefooted that I have to accelerate up to the corner. Piling out and down the long straight, I fire through the gears and attempt to brake later and harder… but it’s still too early. As you learn to lean on the ABS and re-programme your synapses the GT3 Evo continues to reward your faith. As the laps build so does the familiarity and confidence, and with confidence comes speed. Nothing to trouble the professionals, but an addictive first exploration of a truly bolted GT3 car. Keen to experience the usability of the Evo I start to explore earlier (possibly unwise) deployment of the throttle mid-corner, but the Evo just leans on its traction systems, deals with my stupidity and fires off up the road. Million-dollar question then: would you upgrade your Huracán GT3 to an Evo? My abiding memory of my time with the Evo is how approachable it was to drive. Weird, considering how angry and unusable to mere mortals it looks. To drive one fast, to complete lap after lap is, a different matter. But the Evo looks after you, and by being so capable, predictable and addictive to drive, it allows and encourages you to focus on the business of speed. As the grid fills with Super Trofeo cars for the next race, it’s clear that Squadra Corse business is good. The Huracán GT3 Evo is testament to the team’s unwavering devotion to making a truly approachable but incredibly capable racing car and, in the right hands, I have no doubt Sant’Agata will need a bigger trophy cabinet.