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SSC Tuatara hits new top speed of 295mph

Hypercar was driven by a customer at the Kennedy Space Center Merritt in Florida.

An SSC Tuatara has hit a new record top speed of 295mph while testing at the Johnny Bohmer Proving Grounds at Space Florida’s LLF, Kennedy Space Center Merritt.

The hypercar was piloted by car collector and Tuatara customer Larry Caplin, who was also behind the wheel when the model hit a two-way average of 282.9mph last year.

However, this new record appears to be from a single run, with SSC noting that the information was recorded by data logging firm Racelogic, who sent a technician to validate the figures alongside independent analyst Robert Mitchell.

Mitchell is the owner of Apex Nurburg, a performance car rental firm based at the Nurburgring Nordschleife race track in Germany. He was one of a number of prominent online personalities who questioned claims from SSC in 2020 that it had broken the world production car speed record with a two-way run average of 316mph.

Concerns were raised as analysis of the video footage did not tally with the speeds that were being claimed. Dewetron, the company that made the GPS data logging technology used in the run, said it did not have a technician on site to check the device was correctly calibrated, with SSC later admitting it could not verify the top speed claims it had made.

Photos: PA Media

In later runs, the firm has worked to provide more transparency to ensure its claimed figures are accurate.

Speaking after the latest run, Mitchell said: “I think this car is a 300 car all day. The sheer acceleration at these high numbers above 250, 260, even into the 280s, it’s hands down the fastest car that I have seen.

“The acceleration is there, the top end is there, and I believe that this is the only car that I know of right now that can be verified running 300, especially in such a short distance.”

The SSC Tuatara uses a twin-turbocharged V8 engine that makes 1,726bhp while running on E85 or methanol fuel. It has a carbon-fibre monocoque that is lightweight while also providing extra safety for the driver.

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The car racing games to look forward to in 2022

It’s set to be a bumper year for fans of racing games, with a new Gran Turismo just one highlight.

The video game industry is huge, having overtaken the movie industry during the coronavirus pandemic as people were forced to stay home and keep themselves occupied.

It was already on track to take the top spot before the pandemic, and while genres such as first person shooters tend to get the biggest headlines, car racing games are quietly one of the most important sectors.

Many games, in particular the online-focused iRacing, saw their popularity boom during lockdown as frustrated racing drivers took to the virtual circuit to get their competitive fix.

For racing game fans, 2022 could be one of the most exciting in recent memory. Here are the new releases to look forward to.

Gran Turismo 7 – March 4

The Gran Turismo franchise is responsible for nurturing a huge number of car enthusiasts since the first game was released on the original PlayStation. Since then it has grown to be one of the biggest franchises in gaming, and has even helped gamers become real life racers.

The next instalment attempts to take the game back to its roots, with players starting at the bottom of the racing rung and working to the top.

There’s also an online mode so you can go head-to-head with drivers from around the world, while a hugely detailed climate system should bring realistic weather.

Need for Speed 2022 – TBC

Speaking of massive racing game franchises, we’re getting a new Need for Speed game this year. While GT made its name as a circuit racer, NFS sees heavily modified road cars used on city streets.

Pretty much nothing is known about the game, aside from a vague ‘late 2022’ release date. However, it’s being made by Criterion, who made some NFS games before, including 2010’s much-loved Hot Pursuit.

Unless there’s a massive departure from previous games in the series, we can expect lots of highly tuned cars, beautiful real world locations and regular face offs with the police.

Forza Motorsport – TBC

The only downside to Gran Turismo is that it’s a PlayStation exclusive, meaning PC and Xbox players can’t give it a spin. That’s where Forza Motorsport comes in. Essentially acting as the Xbox alternative to the GT series, over the years it has also developed the open world arcade-style Forza Horizon.

This year, though, we’re getting a new Forza Motorsport, which focuses on circuit racing and building up from the game’s slower cars up the fastest in the world.

Aside from a gorgeous trailer released in 2020, we know next to nothing about this instalment, but expect it to be feature-packed to make the most of the next-generation console hardware.

Grid Legends – February 25

Grid Legends has just gone on sale and provides a curious alternative to the typical racing game genres. While most arcade-style games have some kind of story mode, Grid uses a combination of computer graphics and real-world actors to tell the story of your drivers journey up the racing ranks.

Tracks are typically in city centres locations such as London and Moscow, with a festival vibe to the surroundings. You can also create your own races to challenge others, with disciplines such as drifting and elimination-based setups.

F1 2022 – TBC

Much like football has FIFA, racing games have the F1 series. Each year, Codemasters releases the latest iteration in the series, which is based around that season’s Formula 1 championship.

This year’s iteration will be more hotly anticipated than usual, though, as a new set of car regulations has brought a heightened level of intrigue to the championship. Fans will be eager to get behind the wheel.

Expect the usual career mode as well as the popular My Team, which sees players create a team at the bottom of the championship and develop the car to become a world beater.

Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown – September 22

The Test Drive franchise goes back an incredibly long way, but it has not seen regular releases like some of those above. However, the Test Drive name returns after publisher Nacon bought the rights to the name.

The new game’s name hints at a follow up to the groundbreaking open-world Test Drive Unlimited, released on the Xbox 360 in 2006. That game was set in a faithful recreation of Oahu, Hawaii, while the new game is set to feature a complete recreation of Hong Kong. It should be pretty spectacular.

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Everything you need to know about Gran Turismo 7

Gran Turismo isn’t just one of the biggest racing game franchises of all time, it’s arguably one of the biggest gaming franchises full stop.

It’s no surprise, then, that the internet has been going wild for Sony’s latest ‘State of Play’ event, which has highlighted everything fans of the series can expect from Gran Turismo 7 ahead of its release on PlayStation 5 on March 4.

Here’s everything you need to know about Gran Turismo 7.

Photos: PA Media

Over 400 cars and 34 tracks

In racing games, content is king, and having a huge number of cars and tracks to choose from is a great way to stand out from competitors. Historically, Gran Turismo had a ludicrous number of car options, with umpteen special variations of each Japanese enthusiast car.

That might be a thing of the past, but GT7 still has an excellent selection of cars, with over 400 vehicles from more than 60 automotive brands. The track list has 34 locations around the world with 97 layouts, with a mix of real-world circuits and fictional creations from previous games.

The world map is back

In old school Gran Turismo games the home page of your career was a world map that saw you flitting around the world entering races and buying cars. This is back in the form of a ‘resort’ that will act as your base as you start in a small, compact car and build to some of the fastest machinery in the world.

Incredibly detailed weather patterns

One thing we didn’t expect in a video about a racing game was a detailed lesson about how weather patterns are formed. However, Gran Turismo 7 replicates real-world climates so that cloud formation and weather patterns are realistic to their location and ever-changing.

In the video, a time-lapse clip shows a dry race turning wet. Then, when the rain stops, puddles remain off-line while the track dries on the section where the cars are driving, just as in real life.

Sip a coffee and learn in the Cafe

Gran Turismo is credited with playing a huge part in growing car culture for a whole generation of young gamers, and it takes this role seriously today. It wants to inspire the next generation of car enthusiasts, and one of the ways it hopes to do this is in the ‘Cafe’.

Players can work through a menu of ‘quests’ that involve collecting iconic cars from various points in automotive history. As you collect more cars you’re treated to videos detailing their history and why they’re so important, with relevant people from their stories – such as designers and engineers – drafted in to explain the details.

Tuning and modifications

Tuning makes a welcome return to Gran Turismo, which sees players able to upgrade their vehicle to make it faster and handle better over time.

In the video, the player takes a classic Volkswagen Beetle and fits upgraded parts that have been bought at the resort. The description appears to show it has had a 455bhp Porsche engine fitted, too.

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Ken Block thrilled with the Audi RS Q e-tron

This was a car swap of a very special kind: with Mattias Ekström as the instructor in the co-driver’s seat, Ken Block tested the Audi RS Q e-tron with start number 224 on snow and ice. The outing during the GP Ice Race in Zell am See in Austria was the spectacular prototype’s first appearance after its successful debut in the famous Dakar Rally.

The Audi RS Q e-tron, with which Audi clinched four stage victories in January, was just one of the stars on the icy course in Zell am See. Audi Tradition also brought along the Audi quattro A2 Group B rally car, which competed in the 1983 Rally Finland. In addition, a DKW F 91 and a DKW Hartmann Formula V caused quite a stir.

For Ken Block, the weekend trip to Europe was like a visit to automotive paradise.

“The laps in the Audi RS Q e-tron were a phenomenal experience – even though the car probably feels more comfortable in the desert than in the snow,” said Ken Block. “Thanks to Mattias Ekström, who patiently explained all the special features of his car to me. A few minutes behind the wheel was enough to understand the fascination of this car.”

Ken Block, Audi quattro Rallye A2 Gruppe B

Mattias Ekström was impressed. “It only took three turns for Ken to get fully up to speed,” said the Swede, who, with ninth place, was the most successful Audi driver in the 2022 Dakar Rally. For Ekström, the event in Austria was also the perfect preparation for his participation in the prestigious “Race of Champions”, which was held in the north of Sweden last weekend. Ekström only had to admit defeat to the eventual winner Sébastien Loeb in the semifinals.

In addition to testing the Audi RS Q e-tron, Ken Block also took a little trip down memory lane and drifted around the circuit in the Audi quattro A2. For the American, who was inspired by Audi rally cars as a teenager, this was a personal highlight: “An insane moment that I won’t forget in a hurry.” Soon there will be even more moments like this: With the purely electric Audi S1 e-tron quattro Hoonitron, which Audi developed as a one-off exclusively for Ken Block and which was inspired by the Audi Sport quattro S1, the Hoonigan team is producing a video entitled Electrikhana that will be released in the next few months and will be the latest chapter of their Gymkhana series.

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Five new Lamborghini Countach LPI 800-4 posters for the walls of future generations

A series of new Lamborghini Countach LPI 800-4 posters is completed, with the fifth and final in the collection revealed recently. The five posters feature the limited edition super sports car, of which all 112 are already sold, presented at Pebble Beach in August 2021 as a tribute to the original Countach’s 50th anniversary.

The futuristic limited edition Countach LPI 800-4 continues to be a source of inspiration, reflecting its predecessor’s non-conformist iconic status that defined a new horizon for automotive design. The image of the original Countach powerfully denoted the passion of the most refined car connoisseurs, as well as the teenagers of a generation who chose a Countach poster for their walls.

The love for the Countach’s timeless lines reinterpreted in this poster collection emphasizes how image alone can stimulate creativity. The five posters by Automobili Lamborghini each bear the signature of artists and illustrators specialising in 3D and digital works, feeding the Countach myth and confirming the immortality of the icon, and available at the Lamborghini Store.

The contributing designers, from around the world, each bring a particular dimension and interpretation of the Countach LPI 800-4 as a future icon.

Omar Aqil, a Pakistani 3D illustrator and CGI artist, places the Countach in the centre of the incredible technological evolution of the last 50 years.

Yegor Zhuldybin, a young Russian creator specializing in surreal digital collages, explores the integration of the new Countach into today’s world, balancing between the modern incarnation of the iconic model and the celebration of Lamborghini’s history.

Shy.Studio, an independent motion graphics studio specializing in 3D animations and still life, is inspired by the influence of the vintage 1980s posters, reproducing the legendary Countach design in a modern setting mixed with abstract, tactile elements and objects that seem to come from another world.

Andreas Wannerstedt, a Swedish artist known for his 3D works featuring hypnotic looped animations, proposes a reinterpretation that stages the encounter between nature and the most advanced human technology: the delicate shades of an imaginary sunset meet the clean lines of the Countach LPI 800-4.

LRNZ (Lorenzo Ceccotti): graphic designer, motion graphics creator, animator and illustrator, highlights the extraordinary graphic qualities of the new Countach, focusing on extreme minimalism and high-tech vibrations.

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The performance cars you need to check out today

The enthusiasm for driving sure isn’t dead – and these are some of the best cars to enjoy the open road in.

There’s still plenty of enthusiasm for driving these days. Take one look at the new car market and you’ll see a variety of models which trade on their ability to induce a grin on a twisty road. In fact, there are plenty of performance cars out there that have been engineered specifically to make the most of every drive.

So let’s dive in and see some of the best options on the market today.

Photos: PA Media

BMW M5 CS

BMW’s M5 has always been one of the poster stars of the fast saloon segment, but the CS version takes things one step further. Though it’s still a useable and practical car, it’s lighter and more focused than even the standard M5.

Plus, it’s got some unique touches such as the retro-style yellow daytime running lights and the oversized carbon bucket seats.

Caterham Seven

If you want the purest driving experience around then look no further than the Caterham Seven. Still handbuilt in the UK, the Seven is incredible lightweight and this makes it ideal for darting around country lanes.

Ranging in power outputs – from the Suzuki-engined 170 to the supercharged 620R – there’s a Seven for all tastes.

Honda Civic Type R

The Honda Civic Type R is often seen as the benchmark for hot hatches. The most recent version is arguably one of the best to date, with impressively sharp handling being matched by a useable and practical bodystyle.

Though its looks might not be for everyone, the Civic Type R is still one of the best-driving cars on sale today.

Toyota GR Yaris

When Toyota announced that it would be making a rally-inspired version of its Yaris, there were some reservations about whether or not the final product would be any good. How wrong people were. The end result – the GR Yaris – is a brilliant example of what a hot hatch can be.

With a clever four-wheel-drive system incredibly dialled-in handling, the GR Yaris feels as though it was designed for the open road.

Porsche Cayman

Porsche’s Cayman is often guilty of stealing some of the attention from its larger stablemate, the 911. With its relatively compact proportions but expertly judged steering, the Cayman is a really useable daily sports car that just happens to be one of the best-handling ones around.

It’s surprisingly practical, too, with more boot space than you might expect from a car of this size.

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Porsche 962 C restored to its original condition down to the last detail

Hans-Joachim Stuck has had to wait almost 35 years for a reunion with the fully refurbished 962 C and its first rollout. So the surprise was all the greater when the silk cloth was drawn back to reveal the vehicle at the Weissach Development Centre.

The racing car from the Porsche Heritage and Museum department has been restored to its original 1987 condition over the past year and a half. “It feels like coming home,” smiled Stuck, stroking the car’s left wing.

The racing driver said he has nothing but fond memories of the victorious car with the racing number 17.

“By arranging this reunion after more than three decades, we have not only surprised Hans-Joachim Stuck, we have also taken a little journey through time. The history of the motorsport story surrounding the 962 C is unique,” said Achim Stejskal, Head of Porsche Heritage and Museum.

At the Weissach Development Centre, where the vehicle was first built and now has been restored to its original condition, Stuck also meets his race engineer of the time, Norbert Singer, and designer Rob Powell, the man responsible for the car’s black, yellow and red livery.

It is 35 years since the now 70-year-old won Germany’s prestigious and fiercely contested ADAC Würth Supercup. During the inaugural series for Group C sports car prototypes, he tested the then-new Porsche dual clutch transmission (PDK) at racing speed. The vehicle’s appearance changed before the second race, the Norisring 200 miles, when Shell came on board as a sponsor. Porsche also competed in yellow and red the following year and Stuck worked hard to successfully defend his Supercup title. This 962 C then began its second life as a test car in the aerodynamics department at Weissach, later serving as a reference vehicle for the sports car manufacturer’s corporate collection.

Armin Burger and Traugott Brecht from Historic Motorsport were jointly responsible for the racing car’s rebuild. “We kept passing this car in the warehouse. Then, about a year and a half ago, we decided to get it out of there, transfer it to Weissach and start working on it,” he Burger. He and his team had to rebuild many parts because they were long gone. “The cooperation with the other departments from Porsche was great. We found almost everything we needed within a radius of just 30 metres,” said Burger. At the very beginning of the reconstruction work, he invited Powell and Singer into the historic motorsport workshop.

“When you hear the right people talking by the vehicle, everything immediately becomes clear. We learned an incredible amount from two witnesses who were right there when it all happened,” he added. The experts completely rebuilt the underbody, changed the arrangement of the radiators and made many other bodywork adjustments. Then they presented the Supercup championship car to European media at a journalists’ workshop at the Weissach Development Centre.

Livery designer Powell brought along various thicknesses of tape, stencils and design sketches from 35 years earlier. “Stucki immediately liked the design of my first sketch,” he recalled.

Stuck gave him an affirmative nod over the roof of the car while the designer tapes the lines and applies a stencil to the front headlight: “This is very important, for example, so that the painters can plan the cut-out correctly. By the way, I still think the colour combination of yellow and red looks modern,” says Powell, putting the rolls of tape over his arm, ready for the numerous questions from the press.

Stuck, who was involved in the development of the car, also takes questions and waits for his turn to do the first laps on the run-in and test track. “I’m a big fan of the Porsche PDK dual-clutch transmission and proud that I was allowed to test it in the 962 back then. Being able to keep my hands on the steering wheel when changing gears at full throttle felt great right from the start,” he said. Today, PDK is available in every Porsche. A second surprise awaits Stuck just a few metres from the test area, when he discovers his red racing suit from the 80s and is delighted to find he still fits into it. “For me, the time with Porsche was the most successful of my entire career,” he says, putting on his white star-decorated helmet and climbing in. Unlike the basic model, the 962 C has a wheelbase that’s 120 millimetres longer and pedals that are mounted behind the forward-mounted front axle.

“We gave Stucki a very warm welcome at Porsche. He was always one of the drivers whose feedback I could interpret accurately, like the data from a sensor,” revealed Singer, who first introduced an aluminium monocoque with the 956 Group C car and its direct descendent the 962, as well as the Ground Effect underbody. Stuck starts his first lap on the two-and-a-half-kilometre test track in Weissach and all the spectators fall silent as they watch the Group C racer. “The car automatically takes me on a journey back in time and brings back many fond memories. I will never forget the atmosphere at the race tracks,” smiled Singer.

The 962 C made its first public appearance a few weeks ago at the Porsche Museum’s digital Sound Night. It will make many more appearances over the coming year, with driving and presentation events planned for the upcoming ‘40 years of Group C’ anniversary. “The 962 C was one of the few cars I was allowed to drive on my own, without team-mates and with exactly the setup I wanted. You never forget a car like that,” Stuck concluded, promising: “In 2022, we’ll celebrate the 40th in style!”

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Legend Ken Block joins Audi team

Ken Block has made a name for himself as a rally and rallycross driver since 2005. However, the 53-year-old is most famous worldwide for his elaborately produced videos in which he drives high-performance vehicles to the limit at iconic locations. 

The partnership with Audi closes a circle for Ken Block: “Audi is the brand that ignited my passion for motorsport. I am extremely excited to start this new chapter. Together, we will develop innovative projects and push the boundaries of electric mobility.”

Block was a teenager when the Audi quattro revolutionized the World Rally Championship and the Audi Sport quattro S1 stormed Pikes Peak in the USA in record time. These vehicles made Block dream of becoming a rally driver himself.

Now, during his first visit to Audi, another dream came true: the American was allowed to drive several historic race and rally cars from his favorite brand himself. These included the Audi Sport quattro S1, the Audi V8 quattro from the DTM and the futuristic Audi e-tron Vision Gran Turismo.

Of course, Block didn’t miss the opportunity to test the most powerful electric vehicle currently in the AUDI AG model range. “The Audi RS e-tron GT1 really surprised me,” says Block. “The design is exquisite with great attention to detail and a perfect finish. The driving experience is amazing: the car is incredibly fast and handles very well. The centre of gravity is very low so you can change direction quickly.”

Block is considered as a “petrol head” because of his history. But the American is also re-evaluating and has recently been testing and racing various electric cars. He recorded the third fastest time in the final stage of the 2020 Dakar Rally with an electric prototype and won the inaugural race of the “Projekt E” rallycross series at Höljes (Sweden) in the same year.

“Electric mobility is the future,” said Block. “I see the electric car as a leap forward for us as a society in order to create something that can not only reduce emissions and hopefully make the planet a better place. But not only that: it’s also about performance. I love anything that makes me go faster. Electric cars can do that. And as far as sound goes, I have kids who don’t care about that. They think that the sound of electric cars is just as cool as the sound of internal combustion engines.”

Block and Audi will be working together exclusively in the field of electric mobility with immediate effect. “Audi stands for ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’,” said Oliver Hoffmann, board member for Technical Development at Audi. “Every day we are trying to push boundaries to create the future of mobility. Our goal is to fascinate our customers with progressive design, innovative technology and a broad digital ecosystem. I am delighted that we were able to attract Block and his team to Audi.”

“Block shares our love of performance,” says Head of Audi Brand Henrik Wenders. “He has the ability to inspire people. With his progressive thinking, he will accompany us on our way into an electrifying future. Welcome to the team!”

“At Audi, motorsport is paving the way for future technologies,” said Julius Seebach, managing director of Audi Sport GmbH and responsible for motorsport at Audi. “Electrification is a game changer, just like quattro drive once was. With Block, we’ve got exciting things in store that go perfectly with our strategy.”

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Reconstruction of the first Lamborghini Countach, the 1971 LP 500, unveiled at Villa d’Este

The Countach LP 500 has returned, entered in the class reserved for concept cars at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este. It is a passionate reconstruction carried out by Automobili Lamborghini’s Polo Storico that required over 25,000 hours of work on behalf of an important collector. The contribution of the Lamborghini Centro Stile was fundamental in the reconstruction of the bodywork and styling supervision.

“The Countach reinvented high-performance cars,” said Stephan Winkelmann, Chairman and CEO of Automobili Lamborghini, “and it became an icon in terms of stylistic language that even today, after decades, still inspires contemporary Lamborghinis. Bringing the reconstruction of the first Countach to the concept class of the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, in the year we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of this model, is something extraordinary because it allows us to admire the legendary 1971 LP 500in person for the first time in so many years.”

At the Geneva Motor Show in March 1971, Automobili Lamborghini presented its “idea car”, the LP 500 Countach. The car immediately became the star of the show, and the photographs of it, which went viral, were published in major magazines around the world. This new model was conceived to replace the legendary Miura and wrote a new page in the history of the automobile, both for its technology and design. After three years of development, the LP 500 was sacrificed in crash tests in March 1974 and then disappeared.

At the end of 2017, a classic car aficionado and important Lamborghini customer asked Polo Storico if there was any possibility of creating a reconstruction of the Countach LP 500, a legendary model known only through photographs of the time. 

The first months were spent acquiring all the material available and undertaking an in-depth analysis. “The collection of documents was crucial,” underscored Giuliano Cassataro, Head of Service and Polo Storico. “There had been so much attention paid to all the details of the car, to their overall consistency and to the technical specifications.” Photographs, documents, meeting reports, original drawings, and the memories of some the protagonists of the time: all this contributed to establishing the form and function of every single detail as accurately as possible. The support of Fondazione Pirelli was also fundamental in providing historical archive material to recreate the tires mounted on the original LP500 model.

The work began on the platform chassis, completely different from the tubular frame of the Countach models that would follow. In addition to physically redesigning it, Polo Storico had to decide which work system to use for building it in order to respect the production methods of the time. The same procedure was used for the bodywork, with various modern technological instruments employed for its analysis and definition. Once the sheet metal beating phase was reached, technology gave way to the traditional Italian system, carried out by the “battilastra” with his creativity and tools. A similar process was followed for the interior, which included the lighted diagnostic instruments, as shown on the 1971 prototype.

For all the mechanical components, as in 1971, original Lamborghini spare parts or restored components of the time were used, or failing that, parts were completely rebuilt.

For the historical reconstruction part of the original design, Polo Storico turned to the Lamborghini Centro Stile where the team led by Mitja Borkert, Head of Design, set to work on a very challenging project.

The collaboration with Pirelli – in existence since 1963 – to reconstruct the tires mounted on the LP 500 prototype proved to be invaluable. Thanks to the images and materials preserved in the archives of Fondazione Pirelli, it was possible to use the original plans of the Cinturato CN12 tire fitted on the LP 500 for its Geneva debut. From these documents, the Milanese company’s technicians set out to create the Cinturato CN12 of the Pirelli Collezione range, today’s line of tires dedicated to the most iconic cars built between 1930 and 2000, which preserve the originality of the rubber by combining a vintage image with modern technology. Specifically, the Pirelli Cinturato CN12 tires for the Lamborghini Countach LP 500 were supplied in the sizes 245/60R14 for the front and 265/60R14 for the rear, and are now fitted with the same tread pattern and aesthetics as in the 1970s, but with a modern compound and structure. 

When it came to choosing the color, the PPG archives proved to be crucial, making it possible to identify, after careful analysis, the exact composition for producing the yellow color used, identified as ‘Giallo Fly Speciale’. 

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