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Rob Trubiani tells tales of his Nurburgring record
Holden’s gun tester takes us for a hot lap in the scorching VF SS-V Redline
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22 Jul 2013
THUNDER rumbles and horizontal rain fills the air. The famous Philip Island Grand Prix circuit, formidable at the best of times, is looking downright treacherous.
Nonetheless, we’ve hopped into the passenger seat of a Redline sedan for a hot lap of the Grand Prix circuit we won’t soon forget.
Thankfully, conditions such as these, which would make the average grown adult cry, are just part of the job for Holden’s chief dynamics engineer Rob Trubiani.
Mr Trubiani, who last month set the commercial vehicle record for a lap of Germany’s infamous Nurburgring Nordschleife behind the wheel of a new VF SS-V Redline Ute, seems positively relaxed despite the conditions that confront us now.
With water pooling at every point of the high-speed circuit, Mr Trubiani seems to spend more time traveling sideways than straight ahead, but speaks into our microphone with composure of a man out to fetch the Sunday papers.
This might be because Mr Trubiani is one of only a handful of drivers within the entire General Motors organisation with the credentials to test cars around the Nurburgring on one of its industry days.
Our first impressions of the Redline were strong (stay posted for our first drive report due later today), but we picked Mr Trubiani’s brains for his take on the Redline’s new Competition Mode – essentially a racier, looser traction control setting with launch control.
“The beauty of ‘competitive mode’ is that it rewards a good driver so it still allows you to drift around a racetrack, but the safety of the stability control is still there if you need it.” Mr Trubiani’s time behind the wheel during the VF’s development helped sharpen its new electric steering system, which replaced the older, comparatively fuel-inefficient hydraulic setup.
“I’ve worked very hard developing the steering system and we worked very closely with our design engineers so the steering has been a huge part of VF,” he said.
“The Redline has undergone a heap of development over the last few years”, he said, adding that this helped the Ute set the commercial-vehicle bar around the Nurburgring.
“We had the competitive mode calibrated, the weighting was really good. There’s some really fast and treacherous sections of the Nurburgring where you need accurate steering and that I think helped a lot,” he said.
“The dampers worked really well. There’s a thousand feet of elevation change at the Nurburgring and to be able to do the big climbs and the jumps you need good damper control (as well).”
While the weather during our Phillip Island hot lap were far from conducive to records, conditions at the Nurburgring couldn’t have been more different, said Mr Trubiani.
A top temperature of 21 degrees and a bone-dry track was about as perfect as the small team of Holden engineers could have hoped for.
“As we started to look at the time we thought – hey there’s no commercial vehicle that’s ever gone close to where we think this car could go.
“We were guessing 8:40, at best an 8:30. If we got an 8:30 we would have been absolutely over the moon and yeah the car went 8:19. It was an awesome time.”
While testing in Europe was a planned part of the SS-V development, the record attempt at the ‘Green Hell’ was more of a spontaneous decision, said Holden marketing manager Kristian Aquilina.
“We were looking for ways in which we could put VF on the world stage and it just so happened we had this wonderfully unique opportunity where all the planets aligned.
“We had a VF Ute over there in Europe doing some testing, we had some access to the Nurburgring and some very keen engineers wanting to give a lap-time a go, so we made it happen.”
When asked if he would return to the’Ring to make an attempt on his own record, Mr Trubiani simply replied: “You’ll have to wait and see.”
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