► The thinking behind Lambo’s new racing programme
► Accelerated technical development and better branding
► CAR talks to company executives to get the low-down
Lamborghini isn’t the first company that springs to mind when you think of endurance racing. The brand has made its fortune building outlandish hypercars – the latest of which being the new Revuelto hybrid supercar which it unveiled at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Despite this, Lamborghini has confirmed it will enter the World Endurance Championship (WEC) and the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) championship in 2024 with this – the new SC63.
To onlookers, the project looks like a simple case of opportunistic marketing assisted by the series’ new, cost-effective regulations. But it also marks the beginning of a new chapter in Lamborghini’s history as, until this point, the brand has showed little interest in high-profile motorsports. Unlike Ferrari and Porsche, Lamborghini wasn’t created to race.
So, what’s changed between Ferruccio Lamborghini’s single-minded mission to build the best sports car in the world and the low-slung SC63’s debut at Goodwood’s 2023 Festival of Speed? CAR spoke to the suits at Lamborghini – and it turns out the reasons involved are commercial (of course), technical and existential.
Race to road is still a thing
‘I mean, even nowadays, we have to be honest; it’s not like in the 80s or the 90s,’ admits Rouven Mohr, Lamborghini’s chief technical officer. But he adds that there are still possible learnings from the new LMDh car: ‘Even if hybrid drivetrain on the street car is a different one,’ he adds. You learn a lot on battery cooling issues… and all the things efficiency. So, there is a strong transfer.’
What’s more, Lamborghini’s relatively small size means its motorsport engineers and road car engineers aren’t siloed in the same way that they might be in larger OEMs. And this osmosis between the two brings benefits.
‘We are a small company, we are small team, all the people are working like we say very close together,’ Mohr adds. ‘So they’re working together, sitting together – sometimes even on the same desk. So they’re sharing ideas, they’re sharing experiences, and this is a thing for sure.’
This road/race love-in is already influencing Lamborghini’s road cars. For example, we expect the 3.8-litre V8 hybrid engine used in the SC63 will power the forthcoming Huracan replacement.
Lamborghini’s plans for racing stretch further than technical advancement, though. The top bosses are also concerned about leaving a legacy and improving the credibility of the company’s branding.
Building the brand
‘Racing is competition, and being a sports manufacturer, competition is part of our DNA,’ explains Stefan Winkelmann, Lamborghini CEO. ‘We internally are very competitive, and we have also a lot of fans now in terms of motorsport.’
However, in addition to realising internal feelings within the company, racing will also be crucial for bolstering Lamborghini’s reputation. Aston Martin’s CEO, Laurence Stroll, deployed the same tactic by pushing his company into high-level motorsports and building a range of small volume halo vehicles.
‘The brand is made out of different facets,’ Winkelmann adds. ‘And for sure motorsport is a very important one. Not only if you win, but in general, because you are putting in one brick of the puzzle, which is building the brand overall next to the products, the licencing and also the museum and the history.’
However, for Winkelmann, motorsport also exists to open Lamborghini up to more people. But how does building a prototype that only two teams of drivers make a brand more accessible? To explain that it’s best to take a look at some footage of Monza during an F1 weekend from any decade you choose. Sure, the Tifosi support Leclerc, Schumacher, Mansell and Prost amongst others – but it comes second to the red of Maranello.
Having a racing presence enables fans to direct their energy to a team and a competition, rather than the odd car they see outside Harrods, or just the wallpaper they have on their desktop. In this way, racing makes Lamborghini more of a movement people can get behind, and not just dramatic-looking performance car.
‘We don’t want anybody to be left out of the family,’ says Winkelmann – adding that this his own personal view. ‘You will never be able to buy a car like this, [but] you can be part of the community, and this is very important. So this is in my opinion, one of the things where everybody is part of it. Not only us executives, but also our employees and all the fans in Italy.’