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Silverstone Ferrari 360 Experience Day

on Sun, 04/11/2007 - 17:00

Ferrari 360 Modena
I've often read articles where a journalist tells the tale of the first time they drove a Ferrari. They say you never forget it.

I hardly slept for the few weeks leading up to the event but eventually I found myself standing alongside a corsa red Ferrari 360 in Silverstone livery. It was quite a sight to behold and even stationary I couldn't help but feel how much more at home it looked on the track. I had to step back and walk around the rear to take it all in. The 400bhp 3.6L V8, capable of reaching 0-60 in 4.3 seconds and going on to 186mph, could be seen idling through the glass rear screen. The car was an F1 Modena meaning it has the paddle shift gear option. Flappy paddles were new to me and something I was keen to experience and judge for myself. As I dropped down into the seat I remember being surprised by how supportive and comfortable it was.

Ferrari Race Board
The first lesson I learned was to not to check my distance to the pedals with the ignition on. Inching my seat forward I stamped on the throttle to see how well I could reach... the ferocity of the bark from the exhaust was certainly enough to unsettle my girlfriend standing behind the car with a camcorder. In hindsight I think this was actually quite a good way to snap me out of the dream and ground me to the car I was sitting in. This car wasn’t just fun, this car was serious.

Comfortable with my seating position I lightly pulled on the right paddle behind the steering wheel and then started to pull off. What immediately struck me was the softness of the paddle and the lack of tactile feedback. I had anticipated more of a "click" but instead there was just a spongy feeling and this disappointed a little. I pulled away and the car felt more nimble and dynamic than I had expected.

Ferrari 360 Modena
I don't know how standard the Silverstone cars are but everything felt very well hooked up. I took my first lap with caution but that didn't stop it from feeling fantastic. Adrenaline had well and truly taken over and my confidence grew progressively over the further two laps. The way in which the car hugged the apexes and positioned itself exactly where I wanted it, almost intuitively, was incredible. The 360 is a big car by my standards but it didn't feel anywhere near as long and cumbersome as I thought it might. I remember a few years earlier sitting in a 360 spider at the MPH show with a friend and thinking how small, young and foolish we looked in such a big car. 3 laps was barely enough to get going but I felt privileged to have had them.

Silverstone Experience Centre
I can't say I know what the 186mph top speed feels like and to be honest top speed isn't really the focus of a Lotus owner. I did hit 140mph on the back straight and that felt pretty quick. I also can't say I know what 0-60 in 4.3 seconds feels like because standing starts wouldn't go down to well on an experience day. I do know that the rate of acceleration while on the move was astounding and needs to be experienced to be believed.

Supercars are progressing quickly and the Ferrari 360 F1 Modena has already been replaced by the more modern F430. I can't help but think however, that even in 10-20 years time this will still be a wonderful car. The first time I drove a Ferrari? Well that was a special day indeed and one I will never forget...

 

For many people all over the world the chance to drive one of these exquisite machines will remain a dream. Thankfully due to the thriving experience market in the UK I got my opportunity. If you are interested in going on a Silverstone Ferrari experience day then more information can be found on the Silverstone website

On my experience day I also had the opportunity to warm up for the Ferrari in a Lotus Exige. My thoughts are recorded in the post Silverstone Lotus Exige