Lamborghini is apparently fans of Kate Bush’s Running Up that Hill, the ’80s-era song that’s roared back into vogue and is seemingly playing everywhere. A prototype for an upcoming even-higher performance variant of the Lamborghini Urus has shattered the production SUV record at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb after, yes, runnin’ up that famed hill.
The urus variant, which we know the name of but are not allowed to share with you until its official unveiling at The Quail event on August 19, raced to the top of the mountain in just 10:32.064. This breaks the official production SUV record set by the Bentley Bentayga in 2018 by 17.838 seconds. No word yet on whether any intra-VW-Group animosity has been stirred up as a result; the Bentayga and Urus share their basic architecture.
The Fine Print
Because the record-breaking run was held on a private test day and not during the official race event, however, the Urus variant’s record will officially be recorded as breaking the non-race record set by a Land Rover Range Rover Sport in 2014. Technically, the Bentayga’s record will stand as the race day record, as the organizers of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb are very particular about their recordkeeping. Lamborghini had hoped to claim the record at this year’s race, but the full-on production vehicle wasn’t ready in time.
The Driver And The Track
Racer Simone Faggioli, winner of countless Italian and European hill climb events and current Pikes Peak rear-wheel drive record holder, hustled the upgraded Urus up the mountain’s 12.42-mile, 156-turn course. Starting at an elevation of 9,390 feet, the course gains 4,725 vertical feet before reaching the finish line at the 14,115-foot summit. Turbocharged vehicles like the Urus perform especially well there as they’re less affected by the drop in air density between the start and finish lines.
“[Pikes Peak] is the most important, most difficult of all the hill climbs,” Faggioli told MotorTrend. “Especially because you can’t test it except under special circumstances. The altitude and lack of oxygen make it extra challenging for the engine, brakes, and other systems.”
In order to meet Pikes Peak safety regulations, the Urus did have to be modified in the same way the Bentayga and Range Rover were. A full roll cage was installed inside the car, and a fuel cell was mounted where the rear seat used to be. To offset the weight, Lamborghini removed the front passenger seat, the rear seat, and the panels and carpeting from the rear seat and cargo areas. Fire extinguishers and an oxygen bottle for the driver were installed where the front seat used to be. The driver’s seat, meanwhile, was replaced with a racing seat, per regulations.
Details On The New Model
Full specs on this new variant won’t be revealed until the vehicle’s debut, but engineers on hand shared a number of details with us on the upgraded Urus. We’re told the twin-turbo V-8 makes more power than before, but the increase is limited to less than 100 additional horsepower. Much of the performance was found, the engineers say, in optimizing how all the various electronics on the vehicle work together. The tuning of the engine and transmission are said to be especially critical.
Performance was also found, we’re sure, in the all-new Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tires, the first time a Trofeo R compound and tread pattern has been fitted to an SUV. They’re mounted to massive 22-inch wheels which have also been widened and increase the track width by 0.3 inch. The wheel liners are now made of carbon-fiber to offset the weight of the heavier wheels and tires.
We’re also told this vehicle is slightly lighter than a standard Urus, thanks in part to its coil spring suspension that replaces the regular model’s heavier air springs. It does retain the adaptive dampers of a normal Urus, though they’ve of course been retuned. The ride height has also been lowered.
Also borrowed and improved upon from the existing Urus are the rear wheel steering system and the rear limited-slip differential.
You can also see the bodywork has been subtly updated to increase cooling and make the variant stand out in showrooms. The lower portion of the nose has been opened up for more cooling, there are new vents in the hood, and the rear fender vents have been reworked. The upper rear wing has been enlarged and fitted with bigger carbon-fiber wingtips, while the lower wing has been recast in carbon-fiber as well. Below, the exhaust system has been changed out and sports new tips.
Bumps In The Road
Despite all the upgrades, it wasn’t all smooth racing. During the first attempt, Faggioli went off the road just short of the summit at a turn known as Cog Cut. It was the same spot a Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport went off during this year’s race back in June, and for the same reason. A large asphalt patch in the braking zone has become extremely bumpy due to weather damage, causing the tires to skip across the top of the bumps rather than bite on the asphalt. The Urus sailed several dozen feet off the road, seriously damaging the front end, undercarriage, and front suspension. The tow truck operator winched it from the rear wheels rather than the tow point (by necessity), only making things worse and damaging the rear axle.
Thankfully, Lamborghini had an earlier development prototype stashed in a warehouse in Denver (nearly two hours away) which could be stripped for parts. Working until midnight, the team rebuilt the record-attempt Urus and had it back up on the mountain at 4:30 am the next morning.
The team was optimistic going in. Prior to the off, Faggioli was roughly 20 seconds ahead of the Bentley’s record. The first attempt, however, had to be aborted after the stability control threw an error and went into a failsafe mode. The problem was identified as a bad connector on the active anti-roll bar and was quickly repaired, leaving just enough time for a second attempt before the road had to be opened to the public.
Maybe Yes, Maybe No
While the Lamborghini team is thrilled with the result, engineers on-hand tell us they think there’s more time in the car. It’s unlikely they’ll be back to test that theory, though, as Lamborghini is a relatively small brand with a limited budget for things like this. While they’d like to return for next year’s race, the Squadra Corse racing division has a lot of other balls in the air, especially preparing their entry in the new LMDh class at Le Mans.
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