A couple of weeks ago the Pagani Huayra set the fastest ever lap time around the Top Gear Test Track by a whopping 1.3 seconds. That's huge. Now, photos have surfaced that call the entire lap into question. It appears that the Huayra may have been shod with hand-cut slick tires. Uh oh. (UPDATE: Pagani responds!)
The cars that run Top Gear's power laps have to follow just one rule: They have to be road legal. That means they need to be able to go over speed bumps (hence why the Caparo T1 was disqualified) and have to be wearing treaded tires (hence why the Ferrari FXX was disqualified).
The Pagani hit the track and ran a 1:13.8, which is an amazingly fast time. Its closest competitor is the Ariel Atom V8 at 1:15.1. Granted, the Top Gear Test Track at Dunsfold has gotten faster over the last few years. The addition of concrete to corner apexes has gotten rid of dirt on the track which then gives more mid-corner grip and the ability to get on the power earlier.
But something still wasn't sitting right.
Before the car took to the track, Top Gear took a ton of photos of it and posted them on Flickr. It's rare to have something so pornographic in your midst that isn't disease ridden, so why not photograph the hell out of it?
The photos were first seen by the intrepid lads over on Teamspeed. That's when the controversy started.
The Top Gear photos show the tires that the Huayra was wearing on the day of the test. Per Pagani's website, the Huayra comes with Pirelli P-Zero tires that measure 255/35ZR19 in the front and 335/30ZR20 out back. The Huayra on Top Gear had front tires labeled as 265/645 19, which is not a normal size for a road tire.
Another Pagani has tires that size. They are Pirelli P-Zero slicks that Pagani says were specifically designed for the Zonda R.
The tires on the car at Top Gear's track do have a tread pattern, but it is vastly different from the pattern on the tires the Huayra is supposed to have. It actually resembles the shallow tread of a Formula One intermediate rain tire.
There is more evidence that these are modified slicks from Teamspeed forum member mattjs33: The tires have indicator dots on them. Why would a tire that is supposed to be treaded need indicator dots?
Top Gear Huayra:
Hand cut slicks are not typically road legal tires, which means that the Huayra on Top Gear would not pass the sniff test to have its time on the power laps board.
Pagani is offering a "Track Pack" for the Huayra, as the Pagani fans on the Zonda forums indicate. This "Track Pack" reportedly contains some aero updates.
There is no mention of a "Track Pack" on Pagani's website and every picture of the Huayra on their site shows the car shod in clearly labeled Pirelli P-Zero tires. The tires on the Top Gear car don't even have the P-Zero branding.
I did a search outside of Pagani's site and found that the Huayra "Track Pack" has been ordered by 12 people. It was on the car that Autoblog (those lucky bastards) got to have a little time in last year. Guess what? It didn't have modified versions of the Zonda R's Pirelli slicks:
That makes the Huayra even more a racing car than the Zonda was, apart from the drool-worthy Zonda R from 2009 that pulled a 6:47 lap time at the Nürburgring Nordschleife. The Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires – in the case of the Huayra, 255/35 ZR19 96Y front and 335/30 ZR20 104Y rear – get a hellish workout under any Pagani.
I contacted Pagani to see if these tires were another option in the "Track Pack," but they are yet to respond.
We've also asked Top Gear for a comment and if they were aware of the non-stock tires, and they are yet to respond as well. UPDATE: Top Gear has responded and they are asking Pagani about their tires.
UPDATE: A closer look at the pictures from Top Gear shows that the Huayra ran two different sets of tires when photographed for the run. (As pointed out below, these pictures are also taken two weeks apart, with semi-slicks appearing two weeks later.) It looks like the original Pirelli tires and the "other" Pirellis were swapped. Interesting.
Also, another note. As a few commenters have pointed out, Top Gear did previously run a Renault R26R around the track with barely street legal Toyo Proxes R888 tires and let it stay on the board. I'm not saying Top Gear is a definitive source, it is an entertainment program above all else. But in the case of the Renault, they made a big deal about the tires. For the Pagani, absolutely nothing was said.
UPDATE 2: Pagani has responded to my request for comment:
Yes, we have heard these rumors around our record lap at TopGear. We used Pirelli PZero Trofeo. As first equipment we offer to our customers three different types of tires, all of them omologated for street use: Pirelli PZero, Pirelli PZero Corsa and Pirelli Pzero Trofeo.
Pirelli PZero Trofeo can be treated as Michelin Pilot sport cup for example.
In comparison to the times we have done at other tracks, We can say that we are still faster than the time we scored. From our calculations we are even 1.5/2 seconds faster than what we have done.
Pirelli is our partner since 2007 when we set the Record time at the Nuerburgring Nordschleife with a Zonda F, and we are developers with them regarding Pirelli PZero range of tires.
I've asked Pagani for further clarification, as sizing and tread pattern of the normal P-Zero Trofeo is nothing like the tires used here. I will update when they respond. It also stands in contrast to what Pagani said about the tires it had on when it hit the track.
UPDATE 3: Pagani did use two different sets of tires.
(Hat Tip to everyone. Literally everyone.)