This is the best car I have ever driven. I may have only tackled one corner so far, a second-gear hairpin at that, but my conviction is already unshakeable. The steering is how I like it (flick-of-the-wrist-light but with feedback); the pedals are how I like them (firm, smooth and positive); the gearbox is how I like it (meaty and click-clacky). And the torque!
After a few starts and fits from cold, this 12-pot ‘screamer’ had settled to a creamy tickover so modest that the from-4k rev-counter never flickered. Don’t get me wrong, it revs — there goes 9500 — but it’s fuss-free and exponential. And whatever the revs, its makes a blissful noise.
A crowd flocks to the pitwall. Can’t not give ’em a show. Fourth gear past the pits. Down the ‘box. Third. Er no, fifth, actually There is one more graunchy downchange to come, a double-declutching oversight, otherwise ratios slot in and out with aplomb. Yet at first sight the traditional Ferrari metal H had given me cause for concern. Imagine crushing a road-car version width-wise in a vice. Now ponder on how this would create extremely narrow channels through which to navigate the lever. You get the picture. I needn’t have worried, though — I never gave it a second thought on the move.
So what, you might ask, was Jacky Ickx’s problem?
Actually, you don’t even have to drive the car to understand his point of view. That short wheelbase has got to cause problems in the quick stuff. It’s fine for me, daydreaming of mid-gridding at the next Monaco Historique, it’s quite another matter for someone of the calibre of Ickx fanging it through the Lesmos.
There was another problem for Ickx. Had he been here at the brand-new Adria International Raceway, near Venice, he might have been singing the car’s praises, for it was designed to shine around such stop-start layouts. But that doesn’t necessarily mean to say he’d have enjoyed his day. For this master of the old Nürburgring and Spa, of Blanchimont and Pflanzgarten, Spazzaneve and Adria are manifestations of the racing chicanery he railed against.
Farewell to a modest man
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