Lamborghini released a video on Wednesday of its new Huracán Performante setting a claimed new production car record at the famed Nürburgring circuit. It’s only been two days, but critics on the internet are questioning whether or not the car actually set the time that Lamborghini said that it did. Here’s what’s going on.
The original production car record was set by the Porsche 918 Spyder, with a time of 6:57 in 2013. The Performante’s claimed time was five seconds faster—which in terms of lap times is a huge difference, despite being lower on power. (Motor Trend quotes the Performante to have between 625 and 640 horsepower, which is still nowhere near the 918's combined 887 HP.)
Notable skepticism over the Performante’s lap time comes from Nürburgring resident, Jalopnik contributor and race car driver Dale Lomas over at his personal blog Bridge to Gantry, as well as YouTuber Misha Charoudin.
Lomas’s argument starts by comparing the overlay speedometer in the Performante video with the one in the Lamborghini Aventador LP 750-4 SV’s Nürburgring lap time from 2015. He believes that both speedo displays are being fed by GPS data, not wheel speed:
Why do I think they’re GPS based? Simple both videos display ‘glitches’ in the speed readout shown on the post-processed ‘dashboard’. These glitches range from barely noticeable to somewhat striking. GPS speed measuring from modern equipment is mighty impressive, but it still falls victim to trees, radio interference and ground reflections.
If the post-processed digital dashboards were being fed by wheelspeed sensors (as per usual for a dashboard display) the inherent inaccuracy of measuring a groundspeed using a wheel that changes diameter with speed, temeperature and deflection, would register the following errors almost totally ‘within tolerance’.
Because the main camera in the Performante is mounted on the nose of the car rather than behind the driver, it is indeed harder to tell what the car’s tachometer and speedometer reads.
Lomas believes that a GPS-fed speedo is an imprecise measure of true speed and uses the much clearer video of the Aventador’s actual speedo to make his point. In the Bridge to Gantry story, he uses a screenshot to show that “the wheel speed is showing on the real-life dashboard, while the GPS one on the software is showing something else, even though the RPMs are the same.”
We have reached out to Lamborghini to determine how the speedo was fed and will update if we hear back.
After measuring the speed of the two cars over the distance from the gantry to the bridge (which is almost exactly one mile), Lomas finds that while the Performante video reported a much slower speed, its split time was only marginally slower than the Aventador SV’s.
“Lamborghini sped up the frame-rate of the video... by nearly [five percent],” Lomas concludes. “Either the GPS speedo is bullshit or the lap time is bullshit.”
In his video, Charoudin compares the times of the Performante and the 918.
Taking a look at the 918's record lap video and the Performante’s, he measures the highest top speed and the lowest corner exit speed of a section of track. He makes a chart. Here’s a screenshot of it.
He also notes that at around the 4:28-minute mark in the Performante’s video, the speed inexplicably jumps from 131 kph to 160 kph and then to 190 kph “in just two frames, or 0.08 seconds, if we should believe the timer.”
Charoudin points out that while this could just be a small glitch, but there have been cases in the past where manufacturers report lap times that have been sutured together from the fastest parts of multiple laps.
To get another perspective, I asked Jalopnik’s tame racing driver and Nürburgring expert Robb Holland what he thinks, and he said he also feels like there’s something fishy about the lap—though he admitted that it would be difficult to definitively say whether or not Lamborghini cheated.
“I am not accusing Lambo of cheating,” he said over a call, “but there are things that don’t pass the sniff test.”
Things like what tires the Performante was using, the roll cage and whether or not it was set up for the Nürburgring. He also pointed out that we don’t know what the track conditions were.
The easiest way to help settle things—though not the only way—would be for manufacturers to post their lap data publicly. That way, people could compare it to the times claimed in the video.
Holland doesn’t seem to think so. “This was a manufacturer effort,” he said. It’s highly unlikely that Lamborghini would still make a claim like this even if it suffered some technical difficulties. You’d want that hard evidence airtight before publishing it, and at this point, a fake lap time would do it more harm than good.
Update: Per a press release from Pirelli today, the Performante appears to have been wearing unique tires when the lap time was set:
The Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tires, in 245/30ZR20 at the front and 305/30ZR20 at the back were designed specifically by Pirelli’s engineers for the record attempt.
We’ve reached out to Pirelli to determine whether those tires are standard on the production car or not.
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