After a long silence from super-exotic Italian manufacturer Pagani Automobili, suddenly we’re summoned to the famous Monza circuit to become one of the first magazines to watch the extraordinary new Zonda R up close, at the track.
First off, the Pagani Zonda R starts at the heady price of £1.3 million before taxes and any personal add-ons. It is gorgeous work however, and the technologies aboard are all cutting edge. Only fifteen examples are planned and eleven have already sold according to Pagani.
This unit you see here, number 001, is built to an absolute minimalist specification – total weight before a driver and fuel is added is just 1000 kg. Keeping things light is the world’s first carbon-titanium chassis. Rigidity is doubled and weight is slashed by a third versus the road-going Zonda F. Almost everything else on the car, from the gaping front splitter to the massive rear wing, is either carbon-fibre or titanium, apart from the lightweight steel rollcage and milled aluminium suspension arms.
Acceleration from the 750bhp 6.0-litre V12 engine and six-speed paddle-shift sequential race transmission is phenomenal – taking just 2.7 seconds from 0-62mph, while the top speed is north of 220mph. Amazingly, customers can have their Zonda R calibrated to a range of power outputs they desire via the latest generation onboard software – not yet available to any other manufacturer.
Gear changes happen in an insane 30 milliseconds, and the AMG racing engine – originally designed and last used in 1999 for the famous Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR Le Mans cars – is bolted directly to the chassis, the magnesium-case transmission is behind that, and the competition adjustable rear dampers are attached directly to the gearbox.
The noise from the ultra-thin-walled and ceramic-coated four-barrel exhaust at 7500 rpm sounds more like a 17,000rpm Formula 1 car, and is the lasting memory we will take away from the experience.
RIVAL: Ferrari FXX
Extremely few cars could ever call themselves rivals to the Zonda R – but the Ferrari FXX is one of them. Based on the Enzo hypercar, only 20 FXX’s were ever built, designed for a one-make race series where Ferrari used feedback from the customers to help develop future models. It’s unlikely to ever happen, but putting these two hard-edged racers in the ring together would be a great head-to-head.
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