“Winter Accademia in Livigno is one of the most exhilarating automotive experiences money can buy.”
Fluorescent trails across white backdrops, endless drifts on sparkling ice and the gorgeous sound of the signature V12 reverberating through the valley. As anything that involves Lamborghini is the perfect blend of ferocious power, Italian flair and clever theatrics, it’s really no surprise at all that the Winter Accademia in Livigno is one of the most exhilarating automotive experiences money can buy. The alpine Cirque du Soleil set up by the Sant’Agata manufacturer in Northern Italy, is a high-end event where Lamborghini customers – and very few members of the media – learn how to appreciate the impeccable four-wheel drive technology while dealing with excessive torque on the slipperiest of surfaces. And believe it or not, drifting a 610bhp Huracan is not only soothing to the soul and the best substitute to any anti-depressant, but also extremely simple and intuitive.
Anyone that possesses the basic notions of controlled over-steering will be amazed by the ease with which the 5.2 liters V10 supercar lends itself to sideways cornering. The weight distribution and overall balance of what is destined to become Lamborghini’s best selling supercar, is exquisite. The feedback from the steering wheel is scientifically precise while reactions are razor sharp and as predictable as sunrise.
“The weight distribution and overall balance of what is destined to become Lamborghini’s best selling supercar, is exquisite.”
Initially though, when the official instructor selects “corsa” mode – the most ferocious set-up – and switches off all electronic aides, more than a few freezing drops of sweat will inevitably descend from the brow, but at the very first change of direction what could be envisioned as a frozen hell becomes a low grip extravaganza. Speeds are always fairly low and tyres obviously studded with nails but nonetheless, the dynamics of the Huracan on the ice track – or ghiacciodromo in Italian – are equally mesmerizing. Chassis, suspensions and dampers seem to annihilate the laws of physics as well as the destabilizing effects of weight being transferred back-and-forth. Power slides, given enough space, can be near endless and within a few laps, Scandinavian flicks on hairpins or sideways pendulums in chicanes will be a joyful routine.
To put it very simply, despite the low centre of gravity and the “oh so beautiful” yet menacing silhouette shaped on electrifying performances, drifting a Huracan is a straight forward yet enticing operation that can also improve day-to-day safety and overall knowledge of what driving skills are required on treacherous surfaces. All of the above said, do not expect the same ease with the 6.5 liters V12 700bhp Aventador; the Lambo hypercar – 0 to 60 is history in 2.9 seconds and the top speed in excess of 350 km/h – is heavier, not as nimble and way too brutal to expect casual governance on ice.
Of course one might legitimately ask what is the point of all this. Aside from the very few exceptions that might exist and I don’t know about, Lamborghini customers tend not to drive their jewels on potentially destructive snow paths. If supercar owners are after a “safe” adrenalin rush, any race track will do the job and masterpieces such as the Huracan and the Aventador are in any case not meant to be driven sideways at all. That is not their purpose on planet Earth. On top of it, most of the people I met at the Winter Academy flew in at their own expense from Hong Kong, Mexico City, the Middle East and northern Europe and then spent another 4.800 Euros on the “intensive” program. Which also includes two nights in a glitzy alpine hotel and some traditional meals in high altitude “rifugi” only accessible with snow-cats.
So what is the point? I really couldn’t figure it out until enlightenment came while reflecting on the laughter, fun and the bearable lightness of being which accompanied those memorable forty-eight hours in Livigno. In The Little Prince, Saint Euxpery wrote: «All adults have been children but very few of them remember it». The quote does not apply at all to Lamborghini owners and events like the Winter Academy have the positive effect of awakening the dormant kid inside us. When asked «why did you choose a Lamborghini over other supercars?», a low profile Dutch man that had just purchased the 2 million Euros Centenario replied: «Because owning a Lamborghini was my childhood dream». A response shared by most of the participants confronted with the same question.
“In The Little Prince, Saint Euxpery wrote: «All adults have been children but very few of them remember it». The quote does not apply at all to Lamborghini owners and events like the Winter Academy have the positive effect of awakening the dormant kid inside us.”
Finally, we all know that for the discerning rich and famous, luxury items are part of the day-to-day, but the “Accdemia” delivers a different punch as it tickles customers with a new kind of experience while including them in the works of the evocative “Squadra Corse”. The one or two days driving program (Intensivo or Avanzato) on snow, have a summer declination codenamed “Track Academy” where the focus shifts from low-grip handling to performance driving in legendary circuits like Imola, Phillip Island and the Nurburgring. Still not enough for you? No problem at all as the thrilling “Pilota” course in Las Vegas is specifically designed to acquire all necessary skills to become a Lamborghini Super Trofeo Driver while experiencing all the steps – free practice, qualifying sessions with tyre change and 30 laps race – of a typical racing weekend. The fulfillment of a childhood dream; squared.