Icing Sugar : Lamborghini Esperienza 'Accademia Neve' Ice Driving Course

By davidkhoo, 12 June 2020

Livigno, Italy – It seems a lifetime ago that I was at the helm of a topless, raging, nat-asp V10 screaming its lungs out as it made its way from Livigno to Bormio… except it was just a mere three months ago.

It was impossible to miss (or forget) our convoy of day-glo high-fluo Lamborghinis as it threaded a lurid trail through the pristine white canvas of the Italian Alps to the accompaniment of a spitting and snarling soundtrack... in true Raging Bull fashion.

Considering how hard the COVID-19 lockdown measures have hit in a few short months since, we’re still thankful the rush of euphoria from the 640 stampeding horses unleashed by the V10 at the heart of the Huracan EVO Spider is far from a distant memory.

A convertible ‘Spyder’ in single digit temperatures? It’s not that cold if you keep your head warm; besides, we can’t think of a better way to enjoy the glorious soundtrack of a rev-happy nat-asp V10, except of course, putting it through its paces on a suitably curvaceous ice-track!

In fact, this is our real reason for chasing the white stuff. We're at the Livigno Ice Academy to partake in the Lamborghini Accademia Neve.

Like the other sportscar brands, Lamborghini offers owners, prospects and us media types an assortment of dynamic driving programmes and activities under the ‘Lamborghini Esperienza’ umbrella.

The team of ‘Squadra Corse’ (literally, racing squad) instructors are drawn from the brand’s pool of professional racecar drivers, so you’re assured they’re in the business of going fast in their day-jobs as well.

Like all instructors with professional motorsports backgrounds, the Squadra Corse crew is quick with brand lore, quotable quotes, but more importantly, can analyse one’s driving and impart invaluable tips in a crisp, concise manner without the pompous beard-stroky moments we’ve seen some driving ‘sages’ try to affect.

Our instructors for the day, Alberto di Folco and Frederik Schandorff,  prove sublimely chill, calm and collected – no mean feat when you have no idea what your student on any given day is capable of behind the wheel (both good and bad!).

Don’t forget they are sit-in chaperones with virtual strangers, some of whom might have more cents than sense!

Lamborghini Accademia encompasses track drives (Accademia Corsa) and ‘Esperienza Giro’ scenic road tours, but our weakness is ice driving – in fact, this addiction to snow is something we can never seem to shake.

Some people talk about how fast they can go flat-out, or bandy top speed numbers about, but we prefer the blissful introspection that comes with delicately balancing a sportscar on the edge of adhesion as you languidly play connect-the-dots from corner to corner… mostly sideways of course!

You might think this author’s obsession with ice-driving odd considering sunny Singapore's weather barely sniffs the low 20s, much less two degrees below zero.

However, we’ve found that fast driving on ice/snow is a great way to hone one's car control, especially when things start slithering sideways.

Besides, you’ll never know when you might hit an oil slick or simply drive a little too hard for slippery conditions.

The combination of high-powered sportscar, a heavy right foot and slippery roads is a recipe for all sorts of disaster… although some might say ‘fun’, especially if you’re expecting it.

You could do the same on a skid-pan, but there’s something magical about a winter wonderland playground, especially with the rooster-tail plume of snow trailing a sideways-going sportscar around an ice-track.

The slippery surface not only amplifies one’s mistakes, but also lets things happen at more manageable speeds, so you can quickly see where you’ve gone wrong and apply corrective measures through throttle, steering or brakes.

It’s less ham-fisted brute actions and reactions, but more anticipation, coupled with finely nuanced inputs to steering and throttle that help one balance the car on that delicate razor’s edge between slip and spin.

This is not to say aggression isn’t required, but it is judiciously controlled aggression applied with that calculated jab of the throttle that starts the dance and pirouettes the back-end of the car into action, so you can begin to steer the car with throttle instead of steering wheel.

Look at where you want to go (instead of where you DON’T want to be) and muscle memory takes care of the rest, and this is where the practice drills come in useful, because it helps translate butt/body feel into positive action.

We may have done numerous ice-driving courses through the years, but there’s always room for improvement, especially when it involves precision driving.

Frankly, there’s no such thing as an ‘easy’ sportscar – it only means you haven’t come close to its limits yet.

With all sorts getting their hands on high-performance machines these days, manufacturers have set the cars’ limits so high you can’t hope to safely reach them on normal roads (not unless you’re exceedingly reckless).

This is exactly where courses that encourage on-limit driving in a controlled environment become more relevant than ever.

As a side-note, you may have spotted a flash of gold that is the luscious Miura in the photos, but sad to say, we didn’t get any seat time in the storied Lamborghini icon, save sitting in the stationary car to cop an eyeful of the cabin details.

People like to talk about how “clothes maketh the man”, well, we also become the cars we drive!

After hammering the Huracan EVO coupes around the ice-track, the Huracan EVO Spiders were our ‘steeds’ for the road drive to the end point and lunch-stop at the Grand Hotel Bagni Nuovi Bormio.

There’s something about a procession of candy-crush-coloured Lambos that causes bystanders to whip necks around and phone cameras out, especially with this Asian gamely dropping his top (the Spyder’s, that is!) at the traffic lights – after all, didn’t they say fresh air and sunshine were what the doctor ordered to chase the COVID-19 blues away?

Well, there’s nothing like piloting a loud, lairy and very yellow Lambo to chase our blues away. You can’t help but showboat and live it large and very, very loud.

It’s a novel phenomenon because there’s nothing like plonking yourself into a Lambo to chase away any wallflower tendencies.

You’re practically overcome with that same defiance that led Ferruccio to set up his Ferrari-rival, Automobili Lamborghini, in the first place.

The Huracan EVO Spyder responds well to this hoonigan’s touch, as it crackles and pops with vehemence in response to one’s right foot.

Lamborghini is the only one among the supercar pantheon – comprising Ferrari, McLaren and Aston Martin – to defiantly resist the lure of a turbocharged engine’s ‘easy-credit’ with its Aventador and Huracan sportscars.

The winding road time may have been all too short, but piloting a high-revving screamer is still a thrilling experience, especially with the elemental wall of sound that reverberates throughout the mountainside in the wake of our passing.

Although the EVO Spyder can give as hard as its Coupe sibling, the scenic fast-road drive was a fitting warm-down after the intense work-out at the Ice Academy the day before.

Now, my only problem is I’m craving that rush again but most of the world still has its borders closed!

PHOTOS Lamborghini / David Khoo
VIDEOS Lamborghini / Shin Donato (in-car footage)

[For more information on Lamborghini Esperienza courses, please contact your local Lamborghini dealer]

Lamborghini Huracan Evo Spyder
Engine 5204cc, V10, nat-asp
Power/rpm 640hp/8000rpm
Torque/rpm 600Nm/6500rpm
Transmission 7spd LDF dual-clutch
0-100km/h 3.1secs
Top Speed 325km/h
Fuel Consumption 14.2l/100km
CO2 338g/km

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