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posted on 2020-10-25 13:00:00 .
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“Hang back for a second so I can show you the course,” Dean DiGiacomo says over the radio as we approach the skid pad in a pair of 610hp (455kW), Skittle-colored Huracáns.
A professional racer and the chief instructor for Lamborghini’s various performance schools—which range from customer track days to an intensive training program for the automaker’s Super Trofeo wheel-to-wheel racing series—DiGiacomo takes a moment to explain the vehicle settings I’ll need to select before he sets off on a demonstration pass.
The matte-purple machine arcs gracefully from one cone of the figure eight to the next, V10 wailing as it turns rubber into smoke. Before I know it, DiGiacomo is already back in the pit area and it’s my turn to give it a go. “Now, do it just like that,” a photographer says to me with a knowing grin. We share a laugh. But how hard can it be, right?
Although the Huracán has become the standard-bearer for Lamborghini performance and is the best-selling sports car in the company’s history, there were some who complained that it was a bit too buttoned-down when it debuted back in 2014. Some of that character could be attributed in to its electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system, which was not only designed to provide maximum traction during acceleration, but also predictable, drama-free handling at the limit.
But demands for more rowdiness soon became impossible to ignore, so in 2016, Lamborghini introduced the rear-wheel-drive LP 580-2. Though slightly down on power versus its all-wheel-drive sibling, the LP 580-2 was proclaimed by many to be the more earnest driver’s car of the two due to its lower curb weight and willingness to wag the tail around corners. Yet it too was soon superseded by the Huracán Performante, a no-holds-barred track-tuned machine that took the Nürburgring lap record for production cars in 2017 by besting the Porsche 918 Spyder hypercar on the demanding German circuit.
In many ways, the Huracán Evo RWD can be considered the offspring of the LP 580-2 and Performante, taking the former’s rear-drive approach to performance and blending it with a number of the upgrades that were introduced in the latter. Output is up to 610hp (455kW) thanks to a Performante-derived iteration of the naturally aspirated, 5.2-liter V10 and its raucous center-mounted exhaust system. Meanwhile, removing the front differential hardware takes roughly 75lbs (34kg) off of the front end of the car versus a standard Huracán Evo.
There’s also 73-percent more downforce on tap here versus an LP 580-2, and although the Huracán Evo RWD lacks the standard Evo’s sophisticated LDVI stability-control system, Lamborghini developed a P-TCS (Performance Traction Control System) specifically for the RWD. The P-TCS was made with the express intent of not only maximizing the car’s performance potential, but also its fun factor.
DiGiacomo tells me to put the car in Sport mode for the first pass on the skid pad. Lamborghini considers this the fun driving mode in a track setting, as it is the only option that enables the car’s “constant throttle oversteer” technology. The feature is designed to ostensibly modulate the driver’s throttle inputs to allow the car to step out and hold a powerslide when asked to do so. It also, however, dials things back a bit to prevent a spin, if needed, while the driver keeps the go pedal buried.
On the other hand, I soon learned that it’s not a “drift mode” in the traditional sense. Sport will immediately bring the hammer down on purposeful shenanigans at lower speeds, resulting in nothing but understeer on the skid pad as the system does everything it can to bring the car back in line. But DiGiacomo also has a cheat code to share.
“Put it in Corsa mode and turn off ESC on the center console,” he says. “And once you’re moving, put it in second gear, turn in and give it some throttle.”
Off the leash
With the electronic assistants fully disabled, as they are in this setting, it doesn’t take long to understand why Lamborghini is hesitant to let drivers off the leash. This ain’t no muscle car: torque ramps up from “hmm, nothing’s happening” to “OK, we’re spinning now” in literally a fraction of a second. Without the nannies there to keep everything in check, it’s just your right foot and your flailing Kermit arms keeping this Italian brute on the intended path. It’s definitely doable, but you’d best bring your A-game for this one.
Earlier in the day, we’d spent some quality time flogging the Huracán Evo RWD around the big track at Willow Springs International Raceway, and the story was a bit different out on a proper road course. At higher speeds the system can take into account the car’s speed, pitch, yaw, and driver inputs more effectively, and it’s here where Sport mode loosens the reins, allowing the Huracán Evo RWD to dance under supervision.
Turn 3 is an uphill left with a slightly decreasing radius and banking that falls away just past the apex of the corner. It’s all too easy to turn in prematurely for this one, setting up a perfect storm for oversteer while you attempt to wrangle the car back onto the racing line as power goes up and mechanical grip goes down.
After a few recon laps and the blessing of the instructor in the lead car, I switch from Strada—the car’s most electronically guarded mode—over to Sport, and we increase the pace in turn. Against my better judgment I decide to tease fate and give it a bit more throttle than I normally would going up the hill. The back steps out predictably and stays there for as long as my courage will allow, and the car quickly collects itself as I roll off the throttle. I can’t help but smile wide.
Switching up to Corsa puts the Evo RWD in its most track-focused setting, but the goal is clean, fast laps rather than photoshoot heroics, so the system is always working to put down the power as effectively as possible rather than allowing it to go up in smoke. Lamborghini touts the new P-TCS system as providing a 30-percent improvement in “torque intervention smoothness” versus the LP 580-2. While that’s difficult to quantify at speed, the fact that I was never distracted by the system working to keep the car going where I pointed it speaks volumes.
After a few more passes around the skid pad (and nearly an equal amount of spins), DiGiacomo buzzes me over the radio to come into the pits. But I’m already staging for another pass.
“Oh—you want to go again?” he says.
You’re damn right I do.
Listing image by Lamborghini
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