Pace Notes

05 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS MONTH

LC

01 THE DEVIL’ S LAMBO

EXTREME ROAD RACER One-off SC18 launches racing arm

IF YOU EVER WANTED Lamborghini’ race team to build you a car, this one-off SC18 Alston built specifically for a customer proves it’ now taking orders. Approach the firm with enough money and it’ guide you to its Squadra Corse arm to make your dreams into a LaFerrari-frightening reality.

This road-legal circuit marauder has been primarily designed for track work with the Nurburgring conquering Aventador SVJ at its core. Yes, its 6.5-litre V12 and automated sevenspeed manual are carried over without modification, but no-one’ going to complain about its 566kW and 720Nm that storms an SVJ to 100km/h from rest in 2.8 seconds, doubling that speed in 8.6sec then tripling it in 24.0sec.

The SC18’ accelerative potency is only enhanced by an extensive carbon-fibre diet and use of “ultra-light materials” according to Lamborghini. The engine’ warcry is blasted through specific exhausts’ and terminals for a one-off sound you won’ forget at the engine’ 8700rpm redline.

Squadra Corse runs the brand’ one-make and GT3 racing programs so it’ leaned heavily into its experience when devising this track warrior’ aerodynamics package.

The front end uses the same style intakes’ as a Huracan GT3 car while its side and rear intakes are inspired by the Huracan Super Trofeo one-make car. It’ carved out its huge rear diffuser and more cleanly separated its rear bumper elements to reveal its rear cooling bits and chassis features.

That carbon-fibre wing can be set to three different settings for “the optimal downforce on any circuit” and continues up the car’ centre with an LMP1-style fin. On either side of that are 12 vents on the rear engine cover, a modification developed on its endurance racing cars to boost cooling.

Sitting only 109mm off the ground, about 3mm higher than the Porsche GT2 RS’ track-ready stance, it rolls on 20-inch front wheels and 21-inch rear wheels wrapped in Pirelli P Zero Corsa rubber. They’ re fitted with centre-locks, and hide the SVJ’ carbon-ceramic brake system that has discs measuring 400mm up front and 380mm out back.

Interestingly, they’ re not the Pirelli P Zero Trofeo Rs that put the SVJ at the top of the Nurburgring Nordshcleife lap board with a 6:44.97 second time. Lamborghini makes no mention either whether the standard car’ active aerodynamic system, that uses flaps activated on either side of the car to generate cornering downforce, remains.

Red is an obvious exterior theme and the brakes match the screen printing applied to its doors and roof that bear the tags 63’ and ALSTON’ respectively. This is the product of Lamborghini’ Centro Stile design arm integrating the customer’ personal vision into the car. As for what they mean, we’ have to ask the mystery client ourselves.

Clearly, they might be friends of the devil, as its brooding theme continues inside where black Alcantara is strafed with red stitching. And appropriately for something so track focused, the seats are carbon-fibre buckets.

What you won’ find anywhere on the car is a price tag. But with an Aventador SVJ commanding $949,640 on the Australian market, of which 900 have been built, it’ sure to be an astronomical figure negotiated between Lamborghini and its very lucky client.

02 NEW 911 EXPOSED!

FIRST PICS! More acceleration, new styling and interior for Porsche 992 911

PORSCHE HAS PUSHED THE 911 into its eighth generation with power, technology and style upgrades that mark progress of solid evolution rather than revolution.

At the time of writing we only had access to specifications on the Carrera S and 4S, but if they’re anything to go by the new 992 series will be significantly quicker than its predecessor when it arrives here in 2019’s second quarter.

The 3.0-litre twin-turbo flat six engines have been upgraded with new injection strategies that complement a newly designed turbocharger and charge air layout. Despite the fitment of a petrol particulate filter, power creeps by 22kW, up to 331kW.

Mated to the eight-speed PDK dual clutch that first debuted in the new Panamera, the Carrera S is claimed to reach 100km/h in 3.7 seconds. Add the all-wheel drive grip of the 4S variant and that drops to 3.6sec. That’s an improvement of four tenths on the current 991.2 car.

As before, an optional Sports Chrono package can cut those figures by another two tenths, putting them at 3.5 and 3.4sec respectively. For reference, a current Porsche 911 GT3 is claimed to complete the sprint in 3.4sec.

There have been a host of changes made on the 911’s outside as Porsche says the exterior design is completely new. The rear-end is now the same width across “all models” while the front is now 45mm wider.

Other detail changes include recessed door handles, an indented bonnet that mimics original 911s, new front and rear bumper designs and solid arm side mirrors. Its integrated rear spoiler now spans across the car’s rear end and lifts from above the equally wide light bar. It’s complemented by new LED headlights.

Information on complete changes to the chassis were not available as we went to press, but Porsche has adopted a staggered wheel diameter setup, arranging a 21-inch rear wheel behind a 20-inch front wheel. It also introduces a new Wet mode to its drive modes Normal, Sport, Sport Plus and Individual.

Panamera owners will find the cabin familiar. It’s dominated by a new 10.9inch centre screen that overlooks a redesigned centre console. Switches that control vehicle functions like damper stiffness and ESC settings live between the HVAC vents and the main infotainment screen. In their old place are glass-panes flanking a shrunken gear lever. Ahead of the driver, meanwhile, a central analogue tacho is flanked by screens that display extra information.

Safety hasn’t been neglected as adaptive cruise control now features alongside automatic emergency braking that’s fitted as standard. Porsche also promises a new ‘seating concept’.

You’ll need to cough up $265,000 for the S variant when it lands in Australia. The 4S variant starts from $281,100, revealing a price increase of around $10K for both variants on their 991.2 manual equivalents.

Prices on the full range, along with information on the base car, will be revealed in the near future. – LC

CLUBSPORT: THE TRACK-ONLY 911 GT2 RS

WANT to match true racecar feel to your Porsche 911 GT2 RS’ speed? Step in the way of the limited edition GT2 RS Clubsport. Only 200 will be built, and they’ all feature the ‘regular’ 515kW and 750Nm 3.8-litre twin-turbo flat-six from the GT2 RS, along with a race-ready LSD and seven-speed dual-clutch. They’ also feature adjustable ABS and Porsche Stability Management, racing slicks, three-way adjustable coilovers, a GT3 R spec interior and CFRP clad body that helps bring weight down to 1390kg. At the moment Porsche says its only fit for track days, so no road use unfortunately, but it may also be eligible for “international motor racing events” in future. You can order one for the equivalent of AUD$630K in Europe. Deliveries start May next year. –

LC

03 HONED AMG GT R

AMG’S new track weapon heralds facelifted GT range

AFFALTERBACH HAS waved the facelift wand over its GT range, and in the process delivered a new member – the track-focused 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT R Pro.

The car which AMG’ chairman Tobias Moers calls “the core of the brand” has been bestowed with the new-gen interior featuring a new instrument cluster and more customisable controls, as well as AMG’ clever TFT control buttons on the steering wheel, which itself is also new.

But the GT R Pro is the biggest source of excitement for those who enjoy a focused sports car, with Mercedes’ go-fast division adding to and altering its list of features to build a more track-ready car.

While it shares its 430kW/700Nm 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 and other figures such as straight-line performance numbers with the standard’ GT R, the Pro has been fettled to feature better aero, a sharper chassis, and optimised weight.

A new coil-over suspension setup features an adjustment dial on each damper so the driver can set compression rates and other variables to perfectly reflect their driving style and the track they’ re conquering.

Lighter carbon and hollow tube steel torsion bars, at the front and rear respectively, as well as the addition of spherical bearings for the rear axle’ upper wishbone create a stiffer setup and allow more control when cornering.

A rollover protection system, fourpoint safety harnesses and a 2kg fire extinguisher are also fitted thanks to the Track Package, which is standard for the Pro, but optional elsewhere in the AMG GT family.

Ceramic compound brakes, 5-doublespoke forged wheels, and AMG performance seats are claimed to reduce weight, while a new active aero setup keeps the GT R Pro grounded.

A new front bar now features prominent GT3-inspired flics’ at each side, while the front wing has louvres AMG has included to reduce front lift.

The rear milled aluminium bracketmounted aerofoil – or wing – also features a Gurney flap to balance the downforce at the rear.

To test the effectiveness of its upgrade, AMG hit the Nurburgring with its GT R Pro, and recorded a 7:04.632 lap time.

Australian pricing and availability for the facelifted GT range and the GT R Pro is yet to be confirmed. –

CT

04 THE MAN WHO REINVENTED ASTON

Andy Palmer’ audaciousness is paying off, and then some

WE HAD DINNER WITH ANDY PALMER in Paris a few days after he was appointed boss of Aston Martin. It was September 2014. The ex-Nissan chief operating officer spoke of his desire (‘since I was 20’) to be a car company CEO, and of his passion for Aston Martin.

“Am I ever going to be remembered for being number two or three at Nissan? No. But would I be remembered for turning around Aston Martin? Absolutely!”

There was another incentive for this former Rover engineer. Namely, a juicy bonus, agreed with Aston’s private equity owners. “My job is to make the company as valuable as possible as quickly as possible,” he later told me.

With Aston Martin about to float on the London stock market, valued at around AUD$8.84 billion (£5 billion), Palmer should collect about AUD$38.9 million in shares over the next four years. (But it could top AUD$53 million, if shares trade at higher than expected prices.) Add a AUD$2.1 million salary and about AUD$8.8 million in performance payments, and he may well graduate from the Sunday Times Business section to the Sunday Times Rich List. The Kuwaiti and Italian owners are likely to see a ten-fold return on their investment. Initially 25 per cent of shares will be sold in the flotation.

It’s way too soon to say that Andy Palmer has ‘turned around’ Aston Martin. But he’s made a good start. The company is newly profitable, for probably only the third time in its 105-year history. It has been bankrupt more times (seven) than it’s made money.

There is a business plan – seven new cars replaced in seven-year cycles – that seems simple and sensible, and has been fully costed. The AUD$353.7 million needed for the initial investment was raised, mostly from existing investors, in 2015.

There’s a new Welsh factory to build the DBX SUV and electric Lagondas. Significant growth seems likely: Palmer talks of boosting annual sales to 14,000 once the St Athan factory is at capacity.

Last year, it sold just over 5000 cars. These numbers seem ambitious but achievable, as long as the long-forgotten Lagonda brand resonates and the DBX appeals.

Plus, Aston Martin is trying to elevate itself into a ‘luxury lifestyle brand’. These are valued higher by herd-like stock market investors than car brands, apparently. Witness fluffy non-auto Aston projects such as powerboats, Florida apartments and submarines (see panel, right).

More pertinently, there’s another hypercar on the way, due in 2021. ‘Project 003’ is the ‘descendent’ of the Adrian Neweyengineered Valkyrie. It’s more road-biased, more practical. There’s even space for luggage. Only 500 will be built. As McLaren, Porsche and Ferrari know well, these limited-edition hyper-priced hypercars can deliver huge profits, assuming a sell-out.

Meanwhile, Palmer is locked into another four years as Aston Martin’s CEO, which should reassure investors. That coincides nicely with his 60th birthday. may decide to spend more time driving immaculate ’70s V8 Vantage. he’ll probably be able to afford Aston’s hypercar, too. – Gavin Green

AND FOR HIS NEXT TRICKS...

THE THIRD HYPERCAR

The petrol-electric hybrid hypercar codenamed Project 003’ coming in 2021 will be road-legal and steal tech from the not-road-legal Valkyrie. Just 500 units will be made; so far, it’ just a doodle.

ZAGATO TWOFER

Aston is teaming up with Italian coach builders Zagato to offer 19 pairs of cars: a continuation of the 60s DB4 GT Zagato and the Superleggera-based DBS GT Zagato.

RAPIDE CHARGER

Before the electric SUV and electric Lagondas, Aston’ first electric road car, late-2019’ Rapide E, is being developed with Williams. The run of 155 will come from St Athan.

THE BOND VILLAIN SUBMARINE

Aston is working with Triton to provide budding baddies with their own subaquatic tyrannical transport. It will be based on the Triton 1650/3 Low Profile’ threeperson submersible.

THE ACTUAL PLANE

Volante Vision Concept isn’ another grand tourer, but a vertical aircraft, which Aston Cranfield University, Cranfield Aerospace Solutions

05 SEMA’ S 2018 SHOW STOPPERS

GIVE ’ EM HELL! FCA unleashes 1000hp crate Hellephant’ engine

ONE OF SEMA’ coolest attractions was Fiat Chrysler Automobile’ 1968 Dodge Charger created to celebrate the nameplate’ 50th anniversary.

Named the Super Charger by FCA’ Product Design Office, it fittingly packed Mopar’ new 745kW Hellephant’ crate engine. The all-aluminium 7.0-litre V8 all-alloy Mopar’ Drag Pak cars. It then adds custom pistons, a Dodge Challenger Demon’ valvetrain, a high-lift camshaft and a 3.0-litre supercharger. It makes a prodigious 1288Nm.

To show it off, Mopar routed the Charger’ exhaust tips through its rear tail-lights and fitted a Dodge Demon wheelbase and tracks of the car are also enlarged under widebody guards.

Available in 2019, the crate package is offered complete with wiring harnesses, a control module, throttle pedal and required engine bay ancillaries. Though before you get any ideas, FCA says its kit is designed for off-road use only or pre-1976 vehicles.

KEN BLOCK BUILDS FORD GT POWERED F-150 DRIFT TRUCK

ANOTHER SEMA, another Ken Block creation. Block raised the bar yet again with the reveal of his ‘Hoonitruck’, a 1977 ‘Ford F-150’ purpose built for stunts in his upcoming Gymkhana 10 film. Like the 1965 Mustang ‘Hoonicorn’, which has featured in past films, the truck is built on a custom-tube chassis design and wears a custom body, but it now features a twin-turbo 3.5-litre V6 derived from a Ford GT. Breathing through a custom intake manifold developed by Ford Performance it’s tuned to make 914 horsepower, or 682kW. It channels this through a custom all-wheel drive setup and Sadev sequential six-speed gearbox. Expect Gymkhana 10 all over the internet by the time you read this.

CHEVY’S ELECTRIC DRAG BEAST

CHEVROLET shocked SEMA crowds with its 800volt E-Copo, an all-electric drag Camaro. Packing an experimental ‘electric’ crate package which can bolt to a Turbo 400 transmission in place of a small-block V8, it makes ‘more than’ 522kW and 814Nm. It’s also good for 9.0sec passes.

TWIN-TURBO PORSCHE 356

THIS wasn’t Emory Momo’s first SEMA appearance, but its 356 RSR ‘Outlaw’ was showing off a brand-new pair of twin-turbos attached to its flat 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine. On top of attracting looks with its bare-sheet aluminium nose and tail, its 998kg and 280kW promise a stand-out drive.

HKS CIVIC TYPE R GOES HIPER

JAPANESE tuning giant HKS had its own version of the much lauded Civic Type R on display. It showcased a complete range of upgrades to the FK8 platform; from Hipermax coilovers to oil coolers, turbo pipes, intercoolers and carbon bits. We particularly liked its twin exhaust tip system.