This article is brought to you by KIK e-cigarettes.
This week, I had the opportunity to do something that many grown men would give an important part of their anatomy to do – be driven flat-out around a racetrack in a Lamborghini Aventador by the man who was, until recently, The Stig.
The venue was the Three Sisters Race track in Wigan, and the occasion was the launch of KIK e-cigarettes. As part of the day’s activities, the lucky invited guests were given the chance to drive a Ferrari 458 Spider around the race track under professional instruction. Then, after stepping out of the Ferrari’s driver’s seat, we stepped into the passenger seat of the Lamborghini for a few hot laps with Ben Collins, former Stig for BBC’s Top Gear TV programme.
Quite a number of the assembled guests had never experienced a car beyond a garden-variety hatchback, so the invitation to slide behind the wheel of one of the finest Ferrari models ever created was really the chance of a lifetime. Each driver got about five laps, and the pattern was usually one of gentle apprehension followed by gradually building confidence, followed by a bit of a scare (it was quite a cold and wet day) and backing off again to end. But the real highlight was still to come…
Once the driver had exited the Ferrari’s cockpit, and with barely enough time to finish grinning like a loon, they were ushered over to the menacing white Lamborghini and directed into the passenger seat alongside Ben Collins. Sadly, he wasn’t wearing a white suit, but you can’t have everything.
The passenger was then scared witless as Ben thrashed the big Lamborghini around the tight and twisty track for a few laps, and then emerged looking wide-eyed and a bit green, but laughing nervously and still trying to comprehend how fast they had been travelling.
Having previously driven some very high-tech machinery, I was very much looking forward to driving the Ferrari. And it certainly didn’t disappoint. The 458 is an amazing machine, and even though we were unable to have the roof down due to the inclement weather, the sound of the howling V8 engine behind my ears was ear-splitting. The steering felt almost telepathic, and the traction control system was working overtime as the rear tyres struggled to get 560hp to the ground.
The Ferrari was surprisingly easy to drive quickly, even on a damp circuit, although there was always the feeling that one slightly over-eager jab on the throttle would get you into a large degree of trouble. But having a Ferrari and a racetrack all to yourself is something to remember for a very long time, and it’s fair to say that I enjoyed myself a great deal!
As we pulled back into the pits at the end of my run, I was feeling quite good about myself and my driving ability. Until I strapped into a Lamborghini alongside The (former) Stig. The instant that Ben slid the Aventador around the first corner at staggering speed, the gulf between a regular punter and a properly good racing driver was painfully obvious. At no point on the twisty little Three Sisters track was the Lamborghini travelling in a straight line, yet the speed that Ben carried was astonishing. Motoring journalists have long used the cliché of a car “cornering like it’s on rails”, but they are obviously not going fast enough. If I was driving and the car was moving underneath me like a dodgy washing machine while I was trying to accelerate, brake and steer, I would instinctively slow down until the car started to behave properly. But The (former) Stig just seemed to go even faster, mastering the bucking bronco while making it charge around exactly where he wanted to.
That night, at the KIK cocktail party, the main topic of conversation was still the excitement of driving the Ferrari 458 and riding shotgun with The (former) Stig in the Lamborghini Aventador. And although quite a few people won’t remember the party, they are unlikely to forget the racetrack!