Nearly 150km of our mileage is racked up on the drive to Ras Al Khaimah alone, and while in most supercars that would have left me with a spinal column fused rigid, the Ferrari’s comfort surprises me. I’ll admit there are a couple of tweaks early on (caused mainly by my attempts to use the needle-thin visibility over my left shoulder) but overall the ride comfort is excellent, the pseudo-bucket seats stiff but not overly so, and there’s enough space for 6’ 2” of me without the need to tuck one leg behind my ear. The centre console – which holds the all-important ‘R’ ‘Auto’ and ‘Launch’ buttons (the latter of which I’ve, once again, been asked to leave alone) – appears to float in mid-air. There’s even room for our camera equipment (give or take an awkwardly-placed spare wheel and some re-arranging) and some cheeky storage space on the rear parcel shelf. For the fastest Ferrari road model ever made, it’s all surprisingly civilised.
At its heart though, the F12 does boast some Italian supercar…quirks. Traditional indicator stalks have been replaced by two buttons on the steering wheel to make room for the carbon fibre paddle shifters. All well and good, that is unless you’re accustomed – as every human being on the planet is – to having indicators on the steering column: everytime I got to turn right, I forget the buttons entirely and try to indicate by flicking up a gear, a pattern that starts to grate after a while. Then there’s the information screen in front of me. The large odometer locks the 4000rpm bull’s eye firmly in-sight, but I’m having difficulty at first finding a digital speedometer (I’ll preserve my dignity and neglect mentioning how long it takes me to find it). It’s so large, I have to ask Arun sitting next to me to say how fast we’re going, courtesy of the information strip on the dashboard in front of him.
None of these are our biggest concern though. Having arrived in Ras Al Khaimah looking for Arun’s fabled road, we realise we’re unsure where it actually is, and the satnav doesn’t offer any clues either. A couple of gung-hop leaps of faith lead nowhere – serving only to snap kilometres off our 500km limit – we eventually ask a group of truckers if they know of the location. They’re a bit busy snapping pictures of the car with their phones at first but eventually give us directions.
We follow a sign and start winding our way round the sheer mountain faces straight into a quarry. A working quarry. There’s no end of admiring looks being thrown the Ferrari’s way but it’s a dead end as far as our search goes. Still, the almost white veneer of the rock face has Arun intrigued, and we stop for a few beauty shots.
Mild dehydration in 40+ degree heat doesn’t detract from the fact that the F12berlinetta is a very striking piece of kit. The less said about the design of the rear diffuser possibly the better – and if you’re curious to know what I mean, hit Google images. The flow of the bodylines though is just extraordinary, and I’m particularly keen on the aggressive cuts in the bonnet: they’re there for aerodynamic efficiency, true, but they look awesome. For me though, the profile shot hits the nail on the petrolhead: the 20-inch alloys, the low stance, the uber delicate front splitter, and grooves down the flank. I’m in no rush to tell excited onlookers that this isn’t my car.
A sweltering half hour or so later, we’re following another single lane road back into the mountains, but this again proves a mistake. There are road humps, all of which are maliciously abrupt and have both Arun and myself gritting our teeth as we gingerly pick our way over them. A scrape here or there is accompanied by a look of anguish on both our faces. To add to the annoyance, at the end there’s only a small commune, and we have to turn around. Cue another hail of excited looks from the residents.
Road after road lead nowhere, and after three hours we’re no closer to finding ‘our road’. Worse still – and in an attempt to add some Hollywood-esque drama – the search has nailed our mileage, and there’s only 80km of mileage in reserve before we absolutely have to head back to Dubai. At best we have two do-or-die attempts remaining. Suddenly (again, Hollywood), we spot a small single lane dirt road leading back into the mountains, past a military compound. It’s a risk but one we hope pays off.
It does. The opening stretch of dirt eventually turns into a 30km stretch of asphalt that winds its way into the heart of the mountains, with breath taking views either side. There’s no traffic. No people. No speed cameras. Time to open the taps.