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Warped Drive

Tested on a winding racetrack, the extravagantly sexy new V-10 Audi R8 is one sweet ride.

Author Mike Guy Photography Courtesy of Audi

CAR SHARP The 2010 R8 has a hot new V-10 engine, but the same angry look.

POKER PLAYERS SAY that if you look around the table two hands in and can’t spot the sucker, then the sucker is you.

It’s a sun-zapped afternoon at Infineon Raceway, a twisty track in the dry straw-and-grapevine covered hills of Sonoma, California. Infineon is 2.52 miles long, with 12 turns, a steep hill, a blind corner. A racing instructor there tells me it’s a very fast track, and a “technical” one. The braking, the shifting, the throttle and the steering have to be executed perfectly. I’m surrounded by other amateur drivers taking part in the Audi Sportscar Experience, most of whom have their own fire suits and helmets bearing stickers advertising their favorite motor oil. I’m wearing a Hanes T-shirt. It never occurs to me that I’m the sucker.

In an episode of serendipity too complicated to describe, I first drove an earlier version of the Audi R8-the 2009 model, with its sublime 4.2-liter V-8 engine-on a narrow country lane in the hills of Sardinia. It sounds idyllic, and it was, but truthfully I was afraid to unleash the full force of that beautiful little machine. My overly rational mind kept imagining that at any moment a flock of sheep could bolt through a hedge. I played it safe.

This time, I’m on a closed track, where the only thing to fear, I guess, is driving this $146,000 supercar into a wall. Which is more difficult than you might think. Though the new R8 shares a dangerously powerful 5.2-liter V-10 engine with the Lamborghini Gallardo, it also shares its perfectly balanced chassis and steering system, and a suspension that utilizes something called “magnetorheological dampers,” which I assume contribute to my staying on the road during the more “technical” turns.

I successfully circle the track many times in this outrageously impractical vehicle, hitting 150 mph and pulling multiple G’s. I even pass a driver in a fire suit who’s run off the road and is waiting for a tow truck. Sucker.

Executive editor MIKE GUY uses 10W-30 Lucas motor oil as both a hair gel and cologne.

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