The Ferrari 458 Speciale: intensity turned to 11![Not a valid template]
|Date acquired:||February 2014|
|Kilometres this month:||1259|
|Costs this month:||None (yet…)|
|L/100km this month:||Around 40 on ‘the Jais’|
A Ferrari track-day at Yas Marina Circuit. A drive on the Jebel Jais mountain. Two small sentences, truckloads of fun. With the latter even more inspiring, engaging and challenging than racing around Yas’ beautiful, multi-colored, surroundings at dawn.
I am just not that into track driving. Mostly because I get bored easily, unless you’re really in a close ‘fight’ with a similarly equipped and skilled driver, which is both rare and, unless you know the other driver, potentially dangerous, on open track days. But on this day, similar to our last episode at the Autodrome, I ended up having one of those with Bill, a fellow 458 Speciale owner. Seeing 2 Speciales pushed to their (drivers’) limits, revving into the limiter and brakes squealing, whilst on each other’s tails lap after lap, seemed to excite the small audience surrounding the track. But Bill and I had the best seats of the house, seeing the other car’s backfires within its exhausts, which are mounted at eye-level when driving behind it. If one of Ferrari’s engineers, even for one second thought about the fact that this is a nice visual side-effect next to the better exhaust flow from the engine, my compliments to him. It’s a spectacle to behold. Thanks, Bill. It was epic.
Still, ‘the Jais’ was better. If Top Gear would stumble across this one, I’m pretty sure they would classify it to be one of the best roads “in the world”. It’s the Middle Eastern equivalent of the Stelvio Pass. Shorter and a bit dusty, but with virtually no other traffic. Conquering the mountain roads, accompanied by a 458 Italia, a couple of Caymans (Caymen?) and a Lotus made for a great day out. And more usage in the way I believe that the people at Ferrari envisioned this car to be used. Sadly, this seems to be an exception rather than a rule these days, which is just a missed opportunity and a waste of capability, especially since the car handled it with aplomb. Again.
Last week, prior to an overseas trip, I left the car with Al Tayer so they could replace the aluminum floor panel on the passenger side. Let me explain why… Due to government regulations in Saudi Arabia, all (Ferrari) cars must have a fire extinguisher fitted. And since Ferrari Italy sees the Gulf region as one, the fire extinguisher is an option that you must select. And pay for, even though I didn’t want to have it to start with. Because my adage is: if it burns, get out, and let it burn. Anyway, after paying $820, you end up with a fire extinguisher covered in alcantara (the latter alone might make it worthwhile for some) in a funky bracket attached to the floor. All fine, but it reduces the already limited space in the passenger foot-well rather drastically, so I took it out. That’s no problem in the normal, carpeted, 458 Italia, but in the aluminum-floored Speciale, it left an ugly, credit card sized, gap in the floor panel which looked both stupid and cheap. So I ordered a new floor panel and a mere $1350 later, it’s perfect. It is just a waste of money. I could buy half a set of Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s for that amount…
Which brings me to those tyres. One could argue that my tires look, uhm, tired. And so do the brakes pads, Al Tayer tells me. Which doesn’t surprise me, to be honest. Unfortunately, they don’t have those pads in stock yet. It seems that they didn’t expect anybody to wear them down so rapidly? The pads from the 458 Italia don’t fit, because the Speciale has been equipped with the exotic calipers, high-silicon discs and hybrid material braking pads from the LaFerrari. Granted, the result of that is amazing; insanely short stopping distances and zero fade even in brutal conditions. So, now I’ll just have to wait for these to come in and in the meantime, take it easy on the stop-pedal. And save money, because those pads don’t come cheap…
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