Abruptly, the press briefing—which has been held in a pair of the autodromo’s service bays—ends, and the doors are rolled up to the cacophony of an assembly of revving V12 engines. A phalanx of LP 700-4s, 15 cars deep, rolls through pit lane... and the air seems to quiver.
You approach the nearest, an Aventador draped in a classic metallic sunset-orange hue. You reach beneath the deep lateral crease where a handle might be present on any other vehicle, and the door panel scissors skyward in typical outrageous Lamborghini fashion. You settle into the cockpit and belt up. If the aviation-inspired design wasn’t obvious from outside the car, it’s on full display here. The ignition button is located beneath a red switch cover in the middle of the high center console. You flip it, press the button, and the V12 comes alive with a rasping snarl. The instruments, displayed as a full TFT-LCD array, simultaneously blink into view behind the steering wheel.
Out of the pit, onto the track. You were only fondling it before, but now you lean into the accelerator pedal and the Aventador surges forward, sucking you back into your seat. You’re following a yellow Gallardo Superleggera pace car, piloted by one of Lamborghini’s test drivers, and to your dismay he’s getting away. You then realize that in spite of the surging power you’re still only at half throttle; you floor it, and the car flings itself forward in a seemingly impossible manner, into the first bend, a gentle right-hander. You take it flat out, and the Aventador asks for more. The next bend is similar but in the other direction; you take that one flat-out too. The Gallardo isn’t getting any closer—and suddenly he’s on the brakes, cutting hard into a 90-degree right-hander. You get on your own, all the way on, and the Aventador wrenches itself down from speed with seeming planetary force. Off the brakes, you turn in, aim for the apex, and the chase resumes.
Three drive modes are available. Strada is the default setting, followed by Sport and Corsa, which successively sharpen the steering, ease up stability control and increase the transmission’s shift speeds. In Corsa, at full throttle, upshifts can seem quite violent, sending shockwaves through the cockpit and your sternum, as though the car were a high-powered rifle and you’re sitting in the breach. Corsa also on occasion allows you to push the tail out on sharp turn-in, before the drive and stability systems adjust to your hamfistery and reel you back in.
At length, you return to pit lane, pop the door, and emerge trembling, heart drumming a staccato beat against your ribs—and grinning like an idiot. Signor Winkelmann is there to greet you, smiling slightly and looking entirely satisfied with himself. He has every right to be; with the completion of this project, his company has truly surpassed itself and raised its technical bar to an entirely new level.
You join a group of colleagues for espresso and tall tales. Excited chatter is punctuated by bursts of laughter as you each relate the events of your first go at Aventador and Vallelunga. For the first time in some 36 hours you feel fully awake and really happy to be alive.
Time for another session.
Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4
Longitudinal rear-mid-mount engine, all-wheel drive
6.5-liter V12, dohc, 48-valve
Seven-speed automated manual, Haldex IV center differential
Aluminum dual wishbone, transversely mounted coilover springs and dampers
Carbon-ceramic rotors (400mm/380mm f/r), six-piston front calipers, four-piston rear
Length/Width/Height (in.): 188.2/79.9/44.7
Wheelbase: 106.3 in.
Dry Weight: 3,472 lb
Peak Power: 690 hp @ 8250 rpm
Peak Torque: 509 lb-ft @ 5500 rpm
0-62 mph: 2.9 sec.
Top Speed: 217 mph