A 550 bhp Lamborghini driven by only its rear wheels, and a very wet track. We play matador and try to tame the bull in the Gallardo LP 550-2!
Photos: Joel Tam
The F1 Shanghai International Circuit saw 50 members of the media from nine countries including Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, South Korea and Australia get behind the wheel and experience the Gallardo LP 550-2.
The well-managed event sailed through smoothly despite the potentially perilous combination of factors, which included a wet track, a selection of rear-wheel driven high-powered Lamborghinis, and bunch of adrenalized journalists. This simply validated the awesome capabilities of the LP 550-2. LP by the way, stands for Longitudinale Posteriore, referring to the longitudinal mid-engine that is mounted in front of the rear axle. The number 550 refers to the power output in bhp and the number 2 simply means the car is driven only by the 2 wheels in the rear.
With some guidance from Lamborghini instructors, drivers were allowed three solo laps to test the car hard and fast round the slippery circuit - with the traction control switched on of course. Make no bones about it, the LP 550-2 is a quick car. Down the main straight, the glorious sounding V10 simply thunders down the tarmac. Then very quickly, a sequence of hard braking and downshifts is needed to negotiate turn 1, 2 and 3. Get enthusiastic with the throttle though and the rear will squirm, with the traction control intervening to keep you on track. Let it be made known, Corsa mode, which reduces the impact of the traction control should only be switched on by really competent drivers.
Having been behind the wheel, I must admit that the car is truly demanding and certainly requires a high level of skill to drive well. But yet there is no rejection, it doesn't spit you out and tell you that you're not worthy. In fact, the car exudes a composure that always inspires you to try harder. All in all, a wonderful experience that was alas too short to really enjoy the car to the fullest. For potential owners though, the LP 550-2 will provide an excellent platform for them to grow with the car and gradually improve their driving skills that otherwise would be too 'safe' in a 4WD Gallardo. Keep an eye out for the pricing locally, I hear it might be the most-affordable Lamborghini.