A Taste Of The Pista

Auto Today|May 2018

A Taste Of The Pista

It’s not every day that one gets the opportunity to race at the Fiorano Circuit, a private racetrack owned by Ferrari for development and testing purposes. We took the Pista 488 out on track and fill you in on the thrilling drive

Yogendra Pratap

The last time I stood in front of il Commendatore’s (Enzo Ferrari) house was back in 2011. I wasn’t as excited then as I am today. Because behind me is a camouflaged car that only a handful of people outside the company (and in the world) have driven. And if behind me is Enzo Ferrari’s old house, then around me is the Fiorano track on which I am about to drive a prototype, the track version of the 488 GTB.

Yes, the car was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show earlier and yes there is little to differentiate the Pista from the GTB, but Raffaele de Simone, Ferrari’s chief development driver tells me that while the GTB is a doctor’s knife, the 488 Pista is a brain surgeon’s scalpel, and for someone who wields one, the difference is easy to tell.

If tracks were surgeries then Fiorano would be a complicated brain surgery and I am happy to be armed with a neurosurgeon’s scalpel.

Being one of the jury members of the International Engine of the Year, I’ve been invited to get a taste of a further development of the engine that was crowned the International Engine of the Year two times in a row. After sitting through a presentation on the changes to the engine, we are all set to try it out.

Raffaele makes it seem so easy as he builds up speed out of the pits and gives running commentary on each of the turns, how to tackle each corner, where to brake early and where to leave the turn in till the very last moment. His car glides from one corner to the other as the speed builds up, and he is now pushing the needle against the rev limiter and the aural symphony cascades into a crescendo, shifting to a high pitch just before the shift.

Before I have a chance to realise it, I am being belted into the four-point harness, the helmet strap is checked and the light turns green. I take a lap to build up momentum and slowly start pushing the car. Acceleration is brutal, and braking is even worse as I am trying to catch-up with my innards every time I brake hard. The 720bhp I can fathom, but the jump in torque with every gear ensures that the momentum is stronger with every shift rather than having to build up again. And did anyone tell me that this is a turbocharged engine? Power delivery is seamless and turbo lag seems non-existent as I start pushing the car.

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May 2018