An unplanned excursion in an Audi R8 GT – evo Archive
How three of 2010’s best cars made unplanned excursions on that year’s eCoty
In issue 293, Jethro mentioned the eCoty that nobody speaks of. Could get you kicked out of Fight Club that sort of behaviour. Anyway, as he’s loosened the drawstrings and the cat is scrabbling to get out, I thought I might as well tell you what happened in 2010.
John Barker got the ball rolling with a big one…
‘Cadwell on a dark, chilly, rainy Tuesday was risky, especially with a couple of the cars being on lightly treaded, trackday-style rubber. One of them was the Gallardo LP570‑4 Superleggera. On my first lap I noticed that there was a small flow across the track at the bottom of the deep dip on the back straight, Park Straight. On the second, faster lap it had doubled in volume. We hit it at over 100mph and the Lambo snapped sideways.
‘We were now 90 degrees to the track, fully on the wet grass to the right. Armco flashed by in the windscreen mere feet away… but got no closer as we climbed up the other side of the dip. The Armco ended – phew! – but we were still travelling sideways at speed, and looking up the hill through the passenger-side window I could see the marshal’s post fast approaching. Luckily our trajectory changed when the ground rose on a hillock and the Gallardo compressed into it, the carbon diffuser digging in a bit. So, after about 200 metres sideways, we rotated again and took a trajectory past the post and across the track, finally coming to rest on the grass on the opposite side.
‘I’d like to say that never have I been so close to crashing for so long, but I can’t. On the other side of the hill back in 1993, in Performance Car days, I slid off the asphalt on the right-hander, Chris Curve, in a 968 Clubsport and travelled about the same distance on the grass. However, on that occasion I found the tyre barrier at the Gooseneck. I was photographed leaning on its rear spoiler… while it was hooked up to the recovery truck.
‘I can’t believe I got away with it in the Gallardo. There was grass trapped between the wheels and tyres, bits of carbon missing from the diffuser and the front splitter, but we hadn’t hit anything solid and the car was dynamically none the worse for it.’
An hour or so later, I wasn’t so lucky. On a slowing-down lap in the Audi R8 GT I saw a sodden Matt Howell with his camera poised on the outside of the left-hander Mansfield. I thought I’d be helpful and put the Audi at a decent angle. Sadly I reached the lock-stops, went past the desired decent angle and continued going… all the way round.
Not really a problem given that I wasn’t travelling that quickly. Except that, as John had already proved, you don’t need a lot of speed to travel a long way on wet grass. I saw the bank coming and tried everything I could to pull up short, but it was futile. From memory it did both ends and of course Matt was in prime position to capture the moment for posterity. I drove the R8 back to the pits but it went no further in the test. A manual R8 Spider was subbed in in its place. Always thought that was a better car anyway.
All of which leaves very little room to tell you about Dickie having to do an emergency stop in an SLS for a sheep in Yorkshire. The wandering woolly survived but the seat fabric in the GT2 RS following behind was puckered irrevocably. An airborne Chris Harris had seen the braking Mercedes but was unable to do anything about it for what must have felt like forever. When tyre touched tarmac he hit the middle pedal, missed the Merc by millimetres (there was video footage to prove it) and took evasive action stage left through the heather. The GT2 RS eventually emerged from the moorland under its own steam, but let’s just say the geometry was not quite in its factory approved settings.
So that’s the story of eCoty 2010. Now let us never speak of it again.