Future Classic: Lamborghini Huracán GT3
As I gaze at the chiselled, stealth-like structure of the Huracán GT3 I realise how far my classic-car-informed mind is out of touch with current sports car styling principles.
Having grown up with the curvaceous silhouettes of cars such as the 1970 Ferrari 512M, the Porsche 917K and the Lamborghini Miura, it takes me a little time to adapt to the purposefully aggressive lines of the Lamborghini Huracán. It's all about downforce, speed and an extreme aesthetic I whisper to myself as my mind slowly digests the sophisticated technology below all the stubby, flat surfaces.
Bruno Jarach, who has brought his two Huracán GT3s to Misano in Italy to race this weekend, is a good friend. While waiting for our passes he explains why he admires and loves his two GT3 Lamborghinis so much. As an Italian from the Venice region he only needs a few words to do so: ‘Alora, for me the Huracán GT3 is simply the best, the most fascinating and most reliable GT3 car out there. I have raced most of them. But the Lambo is tops – il migliore di tutti (the best of all). You will see why when we do a few laps together, Michael!’
That is all the man said. As he motioned for me to follow him towards the cars, I wondered what I’d let myself in for.
Bruno is a very seasoned operator in his field. His career in motor racing spans three decades. I have seen him racing Ducati Moto GPs, Porsches, Ferraris, Maseratis, a very tricky GP2 single-seater and many other fast machines over the years. A genuine all-round enthusiast, he is currently restoring a 1929 Alfa Romeo 1750 SS and is known to rent his Lamborghinis out to aspiring young race car drivers. As I was able to help Bruno source some much needed original parts for his Alfa (including the rare white-faced instruments and very-hard-to-find small Series Three compressor), I was in for a treat.
Above: Compared to other manufacturers, Lamborghini has taken a lot longer to get properly involved in motorsport, although it’s clear the potential has been there all along.
Considering the success of the well-proven GT3 racing series and the inherent sporting and high-performance nature of the brand I wonder why – compared to many other manufacturers – it has taken Lamborghini so long to get fully involved. Finding talented personnel in and around the Bologna region, just a stone’s throw from Sant’Agata, has never been an issue, while the potential in the machinery has also never been in doubt.
Anyway, until 2009, Lamborghini relied more on risk-taking clients with racing experience to provide first-hand feedback. Bruno Jarach was one of them. Later, Bruno founded his own private Lamborghini racing team, Giust Preparazioni EESTI Motorsport, to develop and maintain his cars.
Lamborghini’s Squadra Corse, the company’s motorsport division, is well aware that Bruno has driven over 45,000 hard racing kilometres in his two Huracán GT3 war horses, without ever destroying an engine. I think that says a lot about the reliability of both car and driver.
Still today, the Lamborghini factory is grateful for the constant input. ‘Feedback from drivers like Bruno was and is very valuable to the development of the cars’, says Mauro Casadei, senior sales representative of Lamborghini Squadra Corse in Sant’Agata. Mauro himself is a very experienced racer. He will drive Bruno’s second car today, just for a bit of fun and relaxation. What a job to have!
Above: Mauro Casadei, Senior Sales Representative of Squadra Corse in Sant‘Agata, is a very experienced racer himself and is the right man to talk to about all things Lamborghini racing.
Seeing the two Huracán GT3s in their dramatic wide-body racing suits, designed by Lamborghini’s own Centro Stile, is an impressive sight. These cars have a cool personality. They’re pretty special underneath too, with a track-specific chassis developed in conjunction with prolific race car manufacturer Dallara.
Above: External styling was done entirely in-house by Lamborghini Centro Stile while the chassis was developed in conjunction with Dallara.
Even in its standard road car form, the LP 610-4, as it is officially called, is a technical marvel. LP stands for Longitudinale Posteriore, which refers to the longitudinal mid-rear engine position. The 610hp, naturally aspirated, 5.2-litre V10 Huracán made its official début at Geneva in 2014. Today the EVO model features 631hp, all-wheel drive, a very sophisticated magnetorheological damping system and rear-wheel steering. The previously undisclosed drag coefficient (Cd) has now been revealed as 0.39 – quite high but then the Huracán does develop huge amounts of downforce, even before the addition of the GT3’s wing. Despite this, the top speed exceeds 212mph. The acceleration is scintillating: 0-100 km/h is achieved in just 2.9 seconds. The whole package already works so incredibly well as a road car it’s no wonder the Huracán is so popular with the GT3 racing community. And it is in GT3 guise, out on the race track, where the Huracán really shines. Those in the know say it is well on the way to becoming an all-time classic race car.
As you would expect, the Huracán is not short of opposition, its main challengers being the Porsche 911 GT3 R, Ferrari 488 GT3, Mercedes-AMG GT3, McLaren 640 GT3, Audi R8 GT3, Aston Martin Vantage GT3, Honda NSX GT3 and BMW M4 GT3.
At Misano race track the GT3 turnout is truly impressive. Trucks keep arriving with the most sophisticated hardware. As we approach our box, Bruno’s two Huracáns are being taken through an engine warm-up routine – a lovely, sonorous hum.
Curious as a schoolboy, I peek into one of the cabins. Everything spells hard-core racing in there. It reminds me more of a Hawker Harrier jet: stark, no frills, no nonsense, just pure, battle-ready functionality.
Above: Buckled into the Huracán GT3 feels more like flying a fighter-bomber jet than driving a GT car. Designed purely for battle!
Before I can even get a chance to greet him, one of the team members pulls a white helmet over my head and hands me a pair of gloves, shoes and a racing suit. It all reminds me that track work is serious stuff.
For easier entry, the whole door of the green car is taken off. I am literally pushed into the cramped passenger seat before another mechanic comes to buckle me up. Bracing himself with a foot on my chest, he ensures that the seat belts are boa constrictor tight.
Soon I get a glimpse of what’s to come and listen to a quick intro by another racing engineer about the fire extinguishing procedure, belt and door release and where to put my feet and arms.
Bruno arrives next to me for his own pre-flight procedure and winds up the engine. It starts with what sounds like a controlled explosion and in no time we are out in the pit lane following the marshal’s instructions.
Above: Bruno in ‘pre-flight’ mode. Soon we will be out pulling 3.5g under braking and 2.5g in the bends – heavy stuff.
Already feeling tight-chested from the seat harness, breathing becomes even harder. I’m starting to smell fumes, mostly from the exhausts at first, but later, also from other parts of the car as they heat up. Off we go, into the long straight. Strapped in with the engine positioned just a few inches behind your back, you can’t help but be fully tuned into the noise. It’s baarp, baarrp, baarrrp, baaarrrp, baaarrrp, baaaaaa… as Bruno bangs up through the gears on a so-called ‘easy warm-up’ lap. Despite this, every gearchange feels like a hammer in the back and it’s only going to get more intense!
The first braking pulls me hard into the belts – comparable I’d say, to the pull you experience when opening a parachute. The acceleration that follows bangs my head against the roll bar. I always enjoy the sensation of a fast-accelerating car, but must admit this is another dimension. On the straight we hit 270km/h just before the final braking point. In anticipation, I brace my head hard against the roll bar. I needn’t have bothered as my head becomes a plaything for the g-forces: more than 3.5g under braking and about 2.5g in the faster bends – enough to shake your blood around quite a lot. I was surprised at how easily I was coping with it all, or at least I thought I was. Once the tyres had warmed up, the real inferno broke loose. Suddenly, everything – accelerating, turning and braking – felt massively amplified. The violent effect on your body is shocking. It suddenly makes sense that a Formula 2 car is only about five to eight seconds quicker around Misano. My eyeballs feel like they are stretching in their sockets.
Still trying to anticipate the braking points, I brace myself against the onslaught. But it’s impossible. The forces are too brutal to counter, far heavier than I thought they’d be. What a violent experience!
Being somewhat more comfortable with the surrounds of 1960s and 1970s supercars I keep thinking about my latest Porsche 917 drive. There’s no comparison at all. The modern high-downforce cars have become more brutal than the old-school be-finned Long-tails used at Le Mans.
A Ferrari 488 just ahead of us brings me sharply back to this present moment. The chase is on. Misano’s very tight corners require a lot of effort. Bruno engages the Ferrari 488 GT3 in a three-lap battle. The suspense is tangible.
Above: Dog-fighting the Ferrari 488 GT3 in Misano’s tight corners is hard work. Under braking my eyeballs are stretched to the limit. It’s a wild ride.
As we close in on the Ferrari, its engine is shouting out a marvellous battle cry right next to my door. Still, the Huracán’s V10 has the deeper, harsher voice. We are hammering away, often taking the much tighter line, jumping over the curbs. The chassis is super stiff and I can feel its ferocious damping action.
Soon, we overtake. What a sight to see a red Ferrari disappear in a spray of dust right next to my head. In front of us another Huracán loses it while carrying about 220km/h into a right-hand corner. Dust and gravel bang around everywhere. Other cars are also circulating around us out of sight into the gravel. A very lovely spectacle.
Above: Some battle damage has been done. Right-front wing and spoiler need replacing on Bruno’s black car. There is literally gravel everywhere.
Later, telemetry shows us the on-board video of our drive in slow motion. Every movement is analysed in great detail, including chassis, engine and gearbox action and performance. It also showed we did a relatively good lap time of 1min 38sec – best of the day, even with my additional 90kg on board. In the race it would be 1min 36sec. Bruno says, my weight pulled his braking points 10 metres forward and that he had to adjust his lines accordingly. That’s how sensitive the car is to additional weight.
Later, after the race, and after picking up a trophy, the next day we drive to buy some parts at the factory in Sant’Agata.
Above: Bruno Jarach (left) and Michael Kliebenstein at the Lamborghini factory in Sant’Agata. A magical place of its own.
During the long ride we discuss the true merits of the Huracán concept and agree that most likely, its greatest impact is economic in nature.
Above: When in Sant’Agata scouting for parts, we saw rows and rows of unpainted Huracán coupe and Spyder bodies stacked three-high. Every car is pre-sold. Business is booming.
Relatively speaking, the Huracán GT3 is not very costly to run. The Italians call it the Huracán effect where it is said that everything is half the price of a Ferrari but also lasts twice as long.
Above: Everything about the Huracán GT3 spells hardcore racing business. No frills. No nonsense.
Lamborghini’s gamble to go racing with the Huracán has paid off. Right from the start, the car has been a financial success, changing the entire face of the company’s race efforts.
Some might say its stark, ultra-modern design is a bit too extreme, like some sort of spaceship, but I say the car’s sublime performance and styling has the power to overwhelm both the driver and the viewer, just like the Countach and the Miura before it – a ‘true’ Lamborghini, no doubt.
Other articles by Michael Kliebenstein