Having said that, the Lambo came off rather better than David Yu's F430 on the trip to France; hanging onto my rear bumper for mile after mile left the 430's front spoiler looking like it had been shot-blasted, thanks to the grit kicked up by the Murcie's 335-section rear tyres. I'm pleased to say the Lambo performed faultlessly among all the Ferraris, apart from an irritating slow puncture that meant pumping one of the rears up every day. (I resisted the temptation to affix a new spoof Lambo badge to the Murcie's flanks: at first glance it looks genuine, but closer inspection reveals the raging bull doing unmentionable things to the prancing horse.) The local Gendarmerie took great pleasure in SG54, asking if they could take photos and have a sit in it. Having spent a good hour with the Lambo, they then returned the favour and insisted, via hand signals, that I sit at the wheel of their ten-year-old Renault van whilst they took snaps of me. Hmm.
I'm pleased to say I had an equally friendly encounter with our own boys in blue a few weeks earlier. Flying down the A64 near York, I was stopped by an evo-reading bike cop who had recognised the Tubi Style tailpipes! After radioing his mates for a look-see, we spent an enjoyable hour, my passenger being given rides in their Volvo, me acquiring a new bunch of enthusiastic uniformed friends. Ironic, then, that not an hour later I was flashed by a scamera and got a ticket through the post a week later.
Last month the Murcie locked me in and I had to resort to climbing out of the window. This month it locked me out. Of course this wasn't at home where I could curse in private. No, this was at Oulton Park on a predominantly Porsche trackday. And to cap it all the keys were in the ignition and the engine was running. Then it started to rain. No alternative but to phone the AA. The 'man who can' did a good job, turning up within half an hour and using a whoopee cushion device to prise open the door - just enough to drop a steel ruler down to hit the unlocking button. Doh! I'll carry my spares with me next time.
Got a call from Paul Goddard at Quicksilver Exhausts (01428 687790) recently. He'd fitted modified systems to Tony Bailey's Renault Clio V6 and David Yu's Cappuccino. Would I like to trial his new Pagani Zonda-style four-pipe setup on the Murcie? I wasn't optimistic that anything could better the orchestral sound of the Tubi Style twin rocket launchers. But I didn't need asking twice, and found myself driving away from Paul's Guildford HQ a couple of weeks later with an extra two end- tips. Verdict? The sound is very similar to the Tubi but without the headache-inducing resonance at certain revs. It's actually quieter according to the noise meter, and possibly slightly crisper. The neighbours certainly approve. The looks are a matter of taste, but there's no doubt it attracts a lot of attention and is good value at around £780 (which also includes a replacement back box).
Overall performance is improving noticeably as the mileage increases. Senior technician Simon Stubbs at Lamborghini Manchester is convinced the chain-driven V12s need a good 10,000 miles before they are at their best, and I'd agree. Another 'Vmax' day at Bruntingthorpe proving ground saw an indicated 192mph (my best yet) in the space available. The Murcie was fifth fastest car on the day; the rest of the top ten were all Porsches, mostly modified ones. No Ferraris in the top ten, I noted. However, at least the Ferraris were able to stop, SG54 being one of a handful of cars that required the extra run-off at the end of the runway to slow down - the brakes are adequate for road use, but for the track they're pretty poor. The 2005 Murci©lago has just been launched with larger front and rear discs and new front callipers, something the big Lambo desperately needed.
I'm also going very easy on the clutch since I know that on average they need replacing every 10,000 miles. The fact that it's an engine-out job and costs six grand does tend to reduce your enthusiasm for racing away from traffic lights...