FERRARI SHOWING up for Performance Car of the Year: we never thought we’d see the day. Not even after confirmation Maranello was sending a 488 to take on Australia’s leading performance car competition. Not even – for some especially skeptical staffers – while we were all driving to the start-line in central Victoria. But then the truck showed up with its flat grey weapon sitting on the back like a coiled snake and it suddenly became real: Ferrari was taking on PCOTY.
This is somewhat historic – the first Maranello ‘approved’ Ferrari comparison in Australia, and you’re reading it in MOTOR. Now, I don’t know if you’ve heard the stories but traditionally Ferrari does not ‘do’ comparisons lightly. In Europe there are legends of Ferrari showing up to comparison tests with two cars – one for straight-line testing, one for handling – with engineers on hand wanting to plug in a laptop at any opportunity. There are even tales of Ferrari asking Pommie mags which racetrack they’ll be testing the car at, so they can go there beforehand and ‘optimise’ the car prior to handing it over. Really.
There was none of that for PCOTY – that we know of, at least. The 488 we used was fast-tracked into Australia for testing and even with a different car we can’t easily imagine a bunch of Italian engineers trekking up to dusty old Winton, eating pies from the local bakery while stealthily making sure the car was bang-on for our testing. That said, during PCOTY, Ferrari did show up to the track with a support crew of three, a watchful communications representative and a van full of spare wheels and fresh tyres – the excess rubber intended for photographic sacrifice, said Ferrari. I say, a rainy day has never made me so glum...
But the next day, the car was all ours, not a single minder. There was almost a symbolism not in Ferrari trusting us with the car, but trusting its product to hold its own in a friendless competition against some seriously potent rivals – indeed, the most fiercely-contested PCOTY ever. It was fast.
It was furious. It was friggin’ stressful. Familiarise yourself with the nearest jesus handle – it begins p54. Enjoy.