Not too long ago we may have suggested that the new Kia EV6 was faster than a Lamborghini Urus. On paper that is still the case, even if the difference is only a tenth of a second or so. The big Lambo SUV must have taken it personally though, because it has taken things one step further and done something a little bit different.
The Lamborghini Urus set a new high-speed record on the ice of Russia’s Lake Baikal during the Days of Speed in March 2021. Reaching a top speed of 185.1mph and an average speed from a standing start of 70.8mph over the 1000-meter distance, the Lamborghini Urus demonstrated exceptional performance despite the slippery conditions and strong gusts of wind.
Russian driver Andrey Leontyev, 18-time record holder of Days of Speed on Baikal Ice, shares his experience of setting the record. Although first he had to explain where this slightly bonkers idea came from in the first place.
“When I saw the frozen Lake Baikal for the first time, I immediately realised that it was a perfect track. Records were being set on impeccable-quality asphalt roads and salt lakes around the world, but in Russia we don’t have any of that. Instead, we have a lot of ice, and that’s how the idea came to me. So, I once decided to come to Baikal with a friend and did some racing. Nobody thought this would get us anywhere, but we were determined to make it something big. In the past 10 years we gained FIA recognition to make our ice-track records official. We fully abide by all FIA regulations and we have a legitimate record-setting arena.”
Leoyntev rightly describes his endeavours as pure motorsport, and as in any motorsport both car and the driver play a fundamental role. Especially driving at those speeds on what is literally a sheet of ice. It pushes the cars to their limits, far beyond their normal operating conditions.
Luckily the Urus is up to the task. With its 650bhp V8 twin-turbo engine boasting one of the highest power outputs of its class and the best weight to power ratio, the Urus is one of the fastest SUVs in the world. It can accelerate to 60mph in 3.6 seconds, 125mph takes just 12 seconds, and it will keep going to a top speed of 190mph. Which puts the ice record into a little bit of context. The record is a mere 5mph slower than the top speed of the car so there’s no doubting a Russian right foot was buried deep into the Italian carpet.
Despite the obvious motivation – let’s face it, driving a Lambo on a frozen lake can’t be anything but fun - setting records on ice is not just a symptom of an adrenaline addiction. There is also an important contribution to automotive engineering.
Engineers and designers can see how their cars behave when pushed to the limit on a surface that is ten times more slippery than any asphalt in torrential rain. It may be overkill, nobody is going to do it under normal circumstances, but it still serves a purpose. If you can build a car that can maintain traction and control while travelling at 180mph over natural uneven ice, skipping over bumps with the suspension constantly being hammered to the limit, then that same car should handle a rain-soaked commute featuring the occasional pothole with absolute ease and comfort.
The engineering solutions that can be developed under extreme conditions ultimately make driving safer, simpler, and more fun. Modern car designers and engineers make every effort to ensure that vehicles are as safe as possible, while still letting people really enjoy the experience of driving. And the joy of driving is not something you should willingly give up.
Although to really experience the joy of driving you might want to lease yourself a Lamborghini Urus first…
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