The rain’s stopped, but it’s still very wet and chilly at Monza. There’s snow on the apron of the circuit’s legendarily fast pit straight.
This is the first time Pagani’s €1.4 million track car has been demonstrated in public. Here to watch are potential customers, dealers and a few lucky journalists.
In the pit garage, photographers scrummage around the new Zonda; it’s difficult to get a good look. But when they clear, the 233mph rich boy’s toy is revealed. And is it ever a glorious thing to behold.
The car looks more like an LMP1 endurance racer than anything else. It’s got a sharper and more pronounced shark nose than the Pagani Zonda F road car, and it’s longer – a little in the wheelbase but mostly in the rear overhang, where an enormous rear diffuser and an equally epic-looking rear wing promise competition levels of downforce.
The tub isn’t carbonfibre though; that’s cast in a mix of carbonfibre and titanium, which is four times more expensive. And the cabin looks every inch the part too, with proper bucket seats, full race harnesses, a fire extinguisher, a full roll cage, an alcantara-lined steering wheel, a twelve-setting traction control system… and not a lot else.
Everyone here’s comparing this thing to a Ferrari FXX, but to me it’s a much closer match for a McLaren F1 LM; it’s a pure, undiluted speed machine. It looks exactly how all racing cars should look; halfway between tempting and terrifying.
All of a sudden the decision is made; it’s dry enough, says Horatio. The aforementioned brave pilot climbs in and the 739bhp AMG V12 yelps into life. He blips the throttle and the pit garage rattles with a noise that feels like its straightening out your cochleas.
This isn’t the sort of car that would pass a 95db noise test; the exhaust is completely unsilenced. But then if you’ve got a million and a bit spare to buy one, you’ve probably got deep enough pockets not to worry about such things.
Our man hits first on the six-speed Xtrac semi-auto ‘box (the same they fitted to the Bentley Speed 8 Le Mans car, funnily enough) and noses out into the pitlane.
In a gradual crescendo of revs and a plume of misty spray he disappears towards Prima Variante. And then a couple of minutes later he rockets past the pitwall at what looks like about 160mph, all twelve cylinders howling.
Given the conditions, I don’t honestly know if I’m jealous, but I’m definitely and profoundly impressed.