How Lamborghini stormed the Nürburgring with its Huracán

Six minutes and 52 seconds is how long it took for Lamborghini to break one of the auto industry’s most prestigious records. The new Huracán Performante is officially the fastest production car ever to lap the grueling Nürburgring track in Germany; it’s a full five seconds quicker around the Green Hell than the vaunted Porsche 918 Spyder.

Many have cast doubts on the record, but Lamborghini confirmed what we suspected all along: it’s 100 percent legit and completely verified. We sat down with Maurizio Reggiani, the head of the company’s research and development department, to find out how the Huracán tamed the ‘Ring.

Digital Trends: Why did Lamborghini decide to launch a more hardcore version of the Huracán?

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Maurizio Reggiani

Maurizio Reggiani: The Performante was always part of our strategy. Every time we build a super sports car, we follow-up by developing a more extreme version of it. In the Aventador family, it’s the Superveloce. In the Gallardo family, we called it Superleggera. This time around we went with the Performante name to reflect what’s possible to achieve with this car in terms of performance.

What does Performante mean?

In Italian, the word performante refers to something that achieves a high level of performance, and that is able to do something exceptional.

What modifications did you make to the 5.2-liter V10?

In Italian, the word performante refers to something that achieves a high level of performance.

One of the most notable changes is that we used titanium valves for the first time. This allowed us to increase valve lift so that we can get more air inside the cylinders. It had a really positive effect on maximum power, which is up to 640 horsepower, but also on maximum torque, which now stands at 442 foot-pounds. About 70 percent of the engine’s maximum torque is available at 1,500 rpm, which is impressive.

But it’s not all about power. We completely revised the tuning of the suspension. It’s more or less 10 percent stiffer than before, and we updated the anti-roll bars. This paved the way for the new aerodynamic technology.

You call the tech Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva (ALA). What makes it stand out?

We can say that we have reinvented the way to apply aerodynamics. We were able to change the car’s aerodynamic profile without adding big, heavy parts that must be moved. You’ll notice that we don’t have any kind of movable spoilers, either on the front or on the rear of the car.

Instead, we rely on what we call the Lamborghini Piattaforma Inerziale (LPI), which monitors chassis movements in real-time and makes adjustments when necessary. On the Performante it also uses the data to decide in what way the active aerodynamics must work to provide the best performance.

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Also, we have aero vectoring. The inside part of the rear wing is split into two parts, and there are two individual flaps that can open to let air travel through either side, or close to direct it elsewhere. By monitoring the steering input via the LPI we can understand what kind of angle the driver wants from the car. Using the flaps we can put much more downforce on the inner wheel, so the car corners with less steering input and less effort. Do you ski?

I did quite a bit when I lived in Utah but it’s been years.

Aero vectoring is exactly what happens when you ski. You put more load on one leg and the other one turns much faster. It’s what I had in mind when we began working on aero vectoring. It was born this way.

At a speed of about 260 km/h (roughly 160 mph) we are able to generate a torque angle of about 40 pound-feet. Everything is controlled from the LPI. It’s much simpler to corner at high speeds, and you can do it with less steering input. Note that the aero vectoring only works when Corsa mode is engaged, because that’s when you want to achieve the best performance.

And this technology was developed in-house by Lamborghini?

Developed and patented, yes. It was easier said than done, too.

One of our main tasks was to make Forged Composites look good so we could leave it bare, and you can imagine the process was not so easy.

First, we had to make sure it was the right system to use. It was a big risk to take, because you don’t want to find out later that the system doesn’t work as planned. Similarly, when we discussed aero vectoring the question was whether or not it would work.

On paper, everything has a reason. But, we needed to make sure the effect was perceivable when the system is put in the car. I can say that what we achieved exceeds our initial goals.

And you brought down the weight, too. Tell us a little bit more about that.

We used a patented material named Forged Composites. We also developed a new, lighter exhaust system. We made the Performante 88 pounds lighter than the standard Huracán.

Forged Composites was inaugurated by the 2010 Sesto Elemento, yet we’re only seeing a large amount of it today. What took so long?

It’s clear that the main problem was being able to manufacture this material with the right aesthetic appearance. One of our main tasks was to make it look good so we could leave it bare and not have to paint it, and you can imagine the process was not so easy.

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We needed to find how to treat the new type of fiber, figure out the ideal length of the fiber, find a special kind of glue for the fiber, and so on. In the end, what we achieved is exactly what we wanted. It’s a high-tech look.

That’s a big development in carbon fiber technology. What’s next?

I think nanotechnology is the future of carbon fiber. That means monitoring the carbon fiber, and maybe even making it self-repairing. For example, if a microfracture develops the material will be able to repair itself. This isn’t ready today; I’m only talking about what’s possible in the future. When it comes to our future research, that’s where we’re trying to put our efforts.