Dave's Rally Report #6:
I'm not sure if I should be using the "reverend" tag or "rabbi" tag both handed to me by Farago. Since I'm not that religious regardless, we'll just leave off the title. Anyway, one new thing at this year's rally was the fact a couple of manufacturers brought out professional race car drivers to ferry journos around the track in their supreme machines. Cadillac had Andy Pilgrim in a XLR-V and BMW had the youngen' Justin Marks behind the wheel of the M5.
Justin seemed like a nice kid (he's six years younger than me so I can call him a kid) and he races for BMW's team in a modified M3 race car. As we're buckling up for the test ride he tells me the M5 has more power than the racer he normally pilots. As we approach the line of cars waiting for the track, we slip up to the front of the line as we're so privileged. In fact, it's so more journos get the chance to drive with a pro and learn something about the course and the car. Plus, they finish the circuit faster than anyone else anyway.
We didn't even talk about the launch mode before we were roaring into the first corner at a ridiculous speed. The one thing the two pros do that we're not really allowed to, is swing out the tail ends wildly in the corners, hitting the warning areas etc. We'd get in a bit of trouble if we did that to say, a Jaguar XK.
Justin also had the fastest paddle shifting I had ever seen/heard. It actually sounded like someone pounding on a table he slammed them so hard. And it wasn't like he was missing the use of a manual either. One other "pro" trait is the liberal use of brakes. Go as fast as all get out then slam 'em down as hard as possible (something that the journos can do on the track but you don't want to be the guy that wears away that last bit of brakes).
We were leaving the carousel at 90+ mph, which is mighty impressive, and hit somewhere near 150 mph at some point. I don't really remember, it was just a blur.