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Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Holy FXXK! Hardcore LaFerrari [UPATED] vs P1 GTR

Ferrari FXXK
One question that keeps popping up in reviews after comparing the likes of LaFerrari and the McLaren P1 is "Where on Earth do they go from here?!" The answer? To the track. Ferrari is not averse to modifying its road cars so extensively that they're no longer road legal. We've seen the Enzo-based FXX crushing all on TopGear at the hands of Michael Stigmacher, and the 599XX set an obscure lap record around the Nürburgring for "production-based" cars (only to be beaten by the Pagani Zonda R with a 6:47). Now, we have the same recipe applied to the storied Italian brand's latest flagship, LaFerrari, to make what they're calling the FXX K. Insert wordplay here.

The 'K' stands for 'KERS,' a device missing from the previous FXX. Yup, the brave multi-millionaire drivers will be subjected this time to assault and battery, as LaFerrari's immense powerplant has been modified all over. The 6.3-litre V12 has had an extra 50 horsepower squeezed out of it to make 860PS (848bhp), while the KER System [sic] chucks an extra 190PS (187bhp) at the rear wheels the very instant you floor it, up from the street LaFez's 160PS of electric boost. That adds up to 1050PS all-in, or 1035bhp if you still prefer it in old money, all going to the rear wheels via a 7-speed DCT. Oddly, the official torque figure is the same at "over 664lb/ft," a claim that seems all the more Italian when you notice the McLaren P1 packs 663lb/ft......

Engineering types might want to know that to get this extra punch from the engine, Ferrari gave the V12 new camshafts, redesigned intake manifolds and mechanical tappets (the device that lifts the valves) instead of the typical hydraulic ones. Er, good? Oh, and the exhaust silencers have been removed, because literally nobody in the world dislikes the sound of a track-spec Ferrari V12 engine. As for the electric motor side of things, drivers get to choose the nature in which the "HY-KERS" augments that ferocious V12, from full-blast 'Qualifying' mode, to 'Long Run' which balances boost force and battery life, and 'Manual Boost' where the driver chooses when to use it. There is also a 'Fast Charge' mode that lets the regenerative brakes do their job to the fullest. It's not just about the power, though. The body has been given a full WEC-inspired makeover to generate 50% more downforce than the original LaFez, with high-mounted winglets attached to awesome tail fins, a huge dual-element front spoiler and a cartoonishly big rear diffuser. Let's go back to the tail fins though. Like the street car, the aerodynamics on the FXXK are active. The large gap between the little winglets can be bridged by an equally-large pop-up rear wing in "High Downforce Mode." In Low Downforce Mode, said wing rests between the unique aero-sculpted tail lights, while the fin-winglets act as guide vanes. I'd be surprised if there weren't moving diffuser flaps as well, like LaFez but also the 458 Speciale. Ferrari claim this FXXK-load of negative lift amounts to as much as 540kg at ~125mph (200km/h). Heaven only knows what downforce it's generating at 200mph, but this car's bespoke Pirelli slick tyres ought to be able to handle it...

It's been suggested that Ferrari will build just 30 of these cars, and just like the previous 'XX' cars, they're not even slightly road legal. They're not eligible for racing either. Instead, they are devices for Ferrari's ongoing research and driver development programme. Over the next two years lucky squillionaires will be invited to track days to do laps in their car and gather data which Ferrari will use to inform development of future road cars. On that note, those slick tyres have sensors embedded in them which give data about lateral, longitudinal and radial acceleration, so the Italian stallions can also tell you where and when you were being too harsh on them. Also helping you preserve the tyres is a development of the 458 Speciale's Side Slip-angle Control system, which essentially allows the car to slide without allowing it to spin. Performance figures haven't been released, but with slick tyres and an extra 90 horsepower, it ought to do 0-60mph in 2.5 seconds or less, really. LaFerrari does it in 2.9s with road tyres, after all.

The price? Guesstimates say £2m, $3m, but it's irrelevant. Those who need to know the price have the money to handle whatever it is. All I want to know now is what this thing sounds like!

UPDATE (5/12): While I haven't found out what it sounds like, TopGear recently pointed out that this FXXK is a whole 5 seconds faster around Pista di Fiorano - Ferrari's own test track - than LaFerrari (1:14.x vs 1:19.x). It also weighs about 90kg less than LaFez, which from what I can work out gives it a dry weight of 1165kg. So that's over 1000 horsepower propelling the weight of a Fiesta ST! Compared to the previous FXX, it generates 42% more downforce, has fewer steering wheel settings to make it less mind-boggling to operate and will be slightly more common - 40 will be built, each costing about €2.5m. Not that it matters, as all are sold out.

FXXK YEAH!

...But it doesn't end there...


McLaren already has its answer to this car, for those who want such a machine without the horseplay...

McLaren P1 GTR preview show car
It's possible to argue that McLaren's raison d'etre is to be "like Ferrari but more competent." While the 12C/650S isn't subjectively as tingly and exciting as the 458 (so say most reviewers), it is objectively faster and more efficient. So it's only natural that they've launched a driver development programme complete with up to 30 examples of an extreme track-only version of its flagship model. The P1 GTR in question doesn't appear to be as complex as the FXXK, but then the P1 road car is already capable of generating 600kg of downforce at 160mph when set to its track-only 'Race Mode,' so the possible counter is that they have less to do in order to turn it into a full-on track missile. Just turn the twin-turbochargers up to eleven and make sure it sticks to the circuit with an FIA GT3-style aerodynamics package. Doing so provides a Veyron-matching - but not FXXK-matching - 1000PS (987bhp) and something that looks ready to enter a racing series somewhere... except it can't. Because it's too powerful.

Instead you will be given a selection twelve track events during 2015, from which you can choose six to enter. Once you get there, you get to play the racing driver for the whole weekend, with a team of McLaren boffins and engineers to prepare the car and monitor your progress. Before that, however, you are prepared for the car's monstrous performance using the same facilities and training regimes at McLaren's HQ as its real racing drivers, from the F1-grade simulator to mental and physical preparation. Only then do you get to play with your ~£2m circuit-smasher.

What extras is the GTR packing over the P1 road car? As the car pictured is only a concept - presumably the Woking massive wanted to get the word out to people before Ferrari and before they've even finished the thing - there is limited information beyond the following:

> 1000PS from a 3.8 V8 Twin-Turbo and KERS, same manual boost & DRS functions as P1 road car.
> Onboard air jack system from 650S GT3 racer. Full-on track-spec aero package.
> Front track (distance between front wheels) widened by 8cm to improve front-end response.
> Fixed ride height and stiffer suspension, like 'Race Mode' but permanent and even more aggressive.
> Steering wheel based on that of the MP4-23 Formula 1 car (Lewis Hamilton's 2008 championship car)
> A REALLY LOUD EXHAUST made from titanium and 'Inconel.'
> Carbon bucket seats. Air conditioning remains standard-fit, but the rest of the interior is stripped out.
> Bespoke Pirelli slick tyres.


Oh, and the name pays homage to the McLaren F1 GTR, which remains the only true production-based GT racer to beat all the purpose-built prototypes at the Le Mans 24 Hours when it won the prestigious endurance race in 1995. It'll be two decades later that the P1 GTR hits the track in somewhat different circumstances.

Which is cooler? GTR or FXX K? You decide!

If this article has been published anywhere other than SmallBlog V8, it has been copied without the author's permission.

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