Targa High Country – The flaming Gallardo Superleggera

At the end of Targa High Country 2011, something so cool happened that I thought it deserved it’s own separate post. John and Jason White, driving their highly developed (and brand new for this event) Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera found themselves in second place heading into the last stage of the event, the famous 18km Mt Buller road. About 2km into the stage the rear of the Gallardo caught fire. Belching huge flames and smoke and dropping bits of burning carbon fibre in it’s wake, the White’s weren’t quite sure if they should stop or not. A fast time could see them win the event.

So, they did the only thing you really could do in that situation. With a rear vision mirror completely filled with flame, they decided to just keep driving it until it stopped. Which luckily it didn’t, enabling them to win the stage by several seconds and therefore win the event. Here are some photos and video from that particularly awesome moment.

This bit of footage was shot by the official TV guys, and had over a thousand hits within an hour of being uploaded.

I, of course, managed to miss this defining moment of the rally. As you would be aware, cameras simply stop shooting when the SD card fills up. This was the last shot I got before my camera stopped shooting and all I could do was simply stand there, dropped jaw, watching this flaming Gallardo round the corner on three wheels right in front of my eyes. You can just make out the smoke and heat haze at the rear in this shot.

The fire made a mess of the rear of the Gallardo. It looks mostly superficial, but I did hear reports that some of the hydraulic actuator lines running into the e-gear gearbox were burnt.

Here’s the unfortunate proof that Lamborghini plastic melts just like anything else. Talking to the White’s that evening, the damage bill figure I heard tossed around was an initial estimated $60,000. Being a Superleggera, Lamborghini price spare parts so as to discourage your local Rundle street poseur from retrofitting Superleggera body parts onto his ordinary garden-variety Gallardo. A wing mirror for the lightweight racer is reputedly $7,500.

I think this is just about the coolest thing I’ve seen, ever. Leaving a trail of fire extinguisher dust, the White’s still drove the winning Gallardo to the podium, holding a beer out the window and bouncing the highly strung V10 off the rev limiter as they threaded their way through the crowd. They then proceeded to receive their first place trophies, and covered both themselves and the Gallardo in sprayed champagne.

I shot this video on my camera as they were leaving the podium, bouncing it off the limiter no less. I just have to say that the camera sound is good, but it is nothing like what it really sounded like. Hearing that noise so close was something to cherish, it made your spine tingle.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CU99pmQm_48

And just to show you what kind of speeds they were doing, here is their in-car from the last few kilometres of the Mt Buller stage on Saturday. Look for the sliding Torana, and remember that all in-car footage looks slow, so if it looks fast it means they’re actually moving at a pretty incredible pace!

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