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Supercar's day out
Swati Bagga's Ferrari 430 Spider is a common sight in the lanes of Defence Colony. But for a car whose top speed is over 300 kmph, the crawl on the Delhi roads is like an insult that rankles. So when Swati, soon-to-be 27, got her Ferrari's speedometer to touch 320 kmph on the Buddh International Circuit, she could hear it vroom in gratitude.
The newly built Formula 1 track in Greater Noida hasn't been lying idle since the race. Swati, who owns two other sports cars - a BMW Z4 and a Mercedes-Benz SLK 350 - is just one of the many supercar owners who hits the grid for some fast and furious driving whenever the opportunity beckons.
Swati, a trained racer, has been a petrolhead since childhood. "I've always been attracted to hot wheels and not Barbie dolls and since my dad had a craze for cars, I guess he passed it on to me, " says Swati. "When I drove my Ferrari on the track a few months ago as part of the CanonBall Club (a premier supercar club) track day experience, the fact that I could drive the car that fast was just amazing, " she said.
Even superbike owners get to burn rubber in the new speed zone. Rajeev Khanna, an old name on the rally circuit, is a biker at heart and just last week took the gleaming red MV Agusta F4-1000, which goes from 0-60 in 2. 7 seconds, for a ride on the track. Khanna, who usually goes out early morning or late at night for a spin, enjoys the few chances he gets to let loose on the fast bike.
"Driving these on the road is, well, dangerous. One can't go fast and that's one reason why I've now gone off road, " remarks Khanna, who's taking part in the FIM Cross Country Rally World Championship in Sardinia in June, which will also see four-time Dakar Rally winner Cyril Despres compete.
In a city with over 200 supercars and many more eager to park one in their driveway, the 5. 14 kilometre-long racing track has given racing and car enthusiasts the chance, and more importantly, the space to do what a sports car was meant to do - go fast.
Those who have the money and the inclination can book the track for a full day for Rs 12 lakh, plus service tax. This gives access to twothree garages with a minimum set-up. That's pocket change for auto companies for whom the track is the perfect promotion venue. Existing and potential customers can check out a car and go full throttle. Ever since the BIC threw open its gates and roads, nearly every week sees some corporate pitch a tent.
Audi, the German auto giant, just concluded a three-day promotion at the Greater Noida track for potential A4 customers and select invitees. BMW organised a track day experience for special invitees in April where it allowed people to drive the newly-launched BMW M5. Lamborghini organised a special track experience for A-listers, including Bollywood glitterati, as part of a promotional exercise for the action thriller, Tezz.
"This is part of our effort to offer customers an experience of our technical perfection and design finesse, " says Michael Perschke, head, Audi India.
And it's not just the ones with deep pockets who get to enjoy the thrills and, sometimes, the spills. The first Open Track Day experience, organised on April 24, received a fairly good response with 50 cars and 30 bikes turning up. Drivers or riders could pay for one or three sessions of 20 minutes each and go all out on a track that has been described as technically challenging. Car owners paid Rs 18, 700 for three sessions and Rs 7, 599 for a single session. But if you're running a race car like Arjun Chopra, a motorhead and events organiser, did, with mechanics and car set-up, charges could touch Rs 25, 000.
Randeep Miglani, a rally enthusiast and the owner of a BMW 5 series sedan, recently touched 250 kmph for a one-two kilometre stretch from Turn 3 to Turn 4 in the BMW M5. He says that the driving stint could push him to say yes to a new car.
"When you're looking at a car, you focus on the bhp or how long it takes to accelerate from 0-100. But when you buy the car you don't get the opportunity to try any of that. Driving on a racing track lets a potential customer experience the performance of the car, " says Miglani, who also drove on the open track day. "It's a great way to test your skills and the car. "
Inputs from Pankaj Doval
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