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Holden ute’s ’Ring run stands alone

Big load: The Holden VF SS V Redline Ute lapped the Nordschleife in a record-setting in 8 minutes, 19.47 seconds.

Holden’s VF Ute creates Nurburgring benchmark with fastest trade vehicle lap time

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Holden logo28 Jun 2013

By TIM NICHOLSON

HOLDEN’S VF Commodore Ute has set a world-record Nurburgring lap time for a light-commercial vehicle.

But there’s a catch -- it’s the only lap time ever recorded for a fair-dinkum ute on the famed circuit.

A VF SS V Redline Ute completed a full 20.8km run of the Nordschleife section of the tortuous German circuit in 8 minutes 19.47 seconds, beating the lap times posted in 2002 by an Audi RS6, and a 2010 Chevy Camaro SS.

Holden dynamics engineer Rob Trubiani was behind the wheel for the hot lap – not General Motors North American president Mark Reuss as rumoured -- and said he wasn’t expecting to set a performance benchmark.

“We came up with a plan to tackle the Nurburgring and break the world record for a commercial or utility vehicle, but when we did our research it seemed one didn’t exist, so we decided to set a record instead,” he said.

Holden is using the Australian government’s classification of the VF-based ute range as ‘Class NA – light goods vehicle’ to claim the unique record.

Mr Trubiani said after discovering there was no lap record to break, the team aimed for a lap time in the 8min 30sec range, which they smashed.

“To slash 11 seconds from that time with an 8min 19.47sec lap was incredible. There may not have been a utility-vehicle record before but I’m proud to say the VF SS V Redline Ute is now the Nurburgring benchmark.” The ute that took on the ‘Ring was a ‘product-correct’ engineering test vehicle that was already in Europe for evaluation.

Holden said the only modifications were the removal of the vehicle’s speed limiter (for obvious reasons) and “a small amount of additional negative camber” on the front wheels.

After enduring 35 laps and 720 kilometres of testing over seven days at the legendary circuit, the only thing that needed changing were the ute’s brakes and tyres.

General Motors North America president and former Holden boss Mark Reuss did get a steer of the ute, though, and sang its praises.

“Spectacular. The steering system is one of the best I’ve ever driven – a perfect balance with real track capability,” he said.

Holden used an industry pool day, when the circuit was closed to the public and reserved for manufacturers use only, to test the ute.

Mr Trubiani said that the Nurburgring was the most demanding track in the world to drive.

“The Nordschleife section of the ‘Ring is the ultimate test of man and machine,” he said.

“It’s 20.8km long and has more than 170 corners with huge elevation changes and multiple surfaces – there is no tougher test for a car and its dynamics.

“If a vehicle can handle the Green Hell it can handle anything and proves yet again that Holden’s testing and development processes produce world-class cars with world-class handling,” he said.

The sports-focussed Redline range features track-tested Brembo front disc brakes and 19x8.5-inch front wheels with 245/40/R19 tyres at the front and 19x9-inch rear wheels with 275/35R19 tyres to ram home the performance cred.

SS V Redline models also get sports-tuned suspension with new front and rear spring and damper tunes, larger stabilizer bars and stiffened suspension bushes.

“Driving the SS V Redline Ute at the ‘Ring has been the highlight of my career,” Mr Trubiani said.

The ute was rumoured to be at the Nurburgring in the lead-up to a possible US berth as the resurrected Chevrolet El Camino.

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