November 29, 2009

Gumpert Apollo Track Test

There are many, many intimidating numbers associated with this car: 2600 lbs, 800 hp, 664 "torques", 0-62 in 3.2 seconds, 2 turbos, $400,000 base price, 360kph/223mph top speed.

Yet, as I was making my way between the black and the orange ones, past the white "hybrid" twin fuel model with the WWII fighter ace hash marks next to the names of the world's top contenders, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, Koenigsegg, Pagani, it was another set of numbers that got to me.

They were right there, on the nasty looking green and silver car, right behind to the driver's door I was about to get in:

Top Gear 1:17.1 Record Holder
EVO 1:19.4 Record Holder
Nordschleife 7:11.57 Record Holder

Holy crap, this was going to be the tracktard equivalent of going to bed with Megan Fox!... READ ON


The Circuit Paul Ricard is as impressive a facility as you are likely to ever see, it's hosts 300 events per year it has an immaculate surface, manicured plantings and all the high tech conveniences you would imagine its High Tech Test Track monicker implies.

I was there for my first European track day. I had been looking forward to it having watched with envy the freewheeling videos from some of our worldwide track day community. This particular one was extremely well run and organized by As with many events in non lawsuit-challenged parts of the world, at the usual briefing the essential rule it all boiled down to was very simple: if you act like an ass we'll send you home. There was no waiver, there were no passing zones, no two spins and you're out, no passing signals... you get the picture. The closest I've come in the US is with the always great Group52 days at the Glen. Our Italian tracktard friend Zampa was right, having none of these artificial systems actually forces people to be more aware on track and the whole day there was not one single incident, people simply moved out of the way when appropriate. Beautiful.

It helps that at Paul Ricard there is only one place where you might possibly have a spin that might result in contact with a wall and that was by itself something really special. A track day with the less potential for damage than an autocross.

That of course makes it the ideal place to test the fastest (ok Ultima GTR fans... we know, we know) road legal car of the moment. Yes, because in today's world the Top Gear Power Board, the EVO test track and the Nürburgring are the triple crown and the Gumpert Apollo is the current champ.

So back to Megan Fox... I was to have 30 minutes with her... turned out to be more like 18 minutes because of a balky gearbox that needed some attention by the full pit crew, but was still Megan Fox I'm not complaining.

I really don't need to go into any technical descriptions of the car, that's all over the internet. You've seen the Top Gear video and no, it does not in any way look like a "boil on a baboon's butt". You've seen Tiff Needell drive it and yes, its a tricky car but perhaps it's better sorted now than when he drove it. You've seen the Nürburgring record lap and yes, it is scary fast like that.

I was taken out for a couple of laps by one of the Gumpert drivers first. At that point I had just one 30 minute session on the track so I was glad to get a couple of extra laps before we switched places. The car, I was told, was detuned for the day to "around 670hp" and was wearing thread-less Michelin Sport Cups.

Imagine an Exige but with a much tighter driving position, the seats are essentially the carbon fiber tub with padding with the detachable steering wheel and the pedals adjustable for rake. This is NOT an everyday supercar, even with the optional height adjustment for speed bumps. It does however have built in airjacks!

So you drop in and find a very close racing position steering wheel and a sequential shifter which needs a decisive pull and a clutch to operate. Once you are strapped in, unless you in fact are a baboon, someone has to close the gullwing doors for you. If you close the doors first, you'll never get your harness I said, this is not an everyday supercar.

So how was it? It was amazing even driven at 8/10ths and with the traction control dialed way up. The acceleration was brutal in any gear at any speed, there is some turbo lag but it was not that much worse than CG's GT2 for example. Grip was, as shown by the Traqmate I had installed, a sustained 1.2 to 1.4G without trying. Coming out of tight corners, the car overpowered the 345/35/19 rear Sport Cups with ease and the TC made the car buck violently even with prudent throttle application.

I was expecting massive understeer in slow corners but the car had just a little bit of skating on one turn, that's it. That was impressive. The chassis is extremely balanced under braking and quite easy to catch when the rear steps out.

The shifter would take some getting used to, it has to be shoved and it was hard to heel toe, not sure if it was pedal placement or just getting used to a new rhythm that's needed, in any case I had no time to worry about that. In the in car video you will see me having trouble at the beginning trying to find second gear.

As it turns out the session was like going to bed with Megan Fox but with her mother present. Just as I was starting to get some confidence, pushing a little and sliding just a tad, mom scolded me and told me to slow down... I guess it's understandable and the all too short session still unforgettable. Even though my lap times were relatively slow, I got a little satisfaction turning a lap faster than the demo-mom did when I was in the passenger seat (I know, I know...but let me live a little).

Does the Gumpert make sense? I guess it depends. You want to win the Track Day World Championship and save a lot of money in the process? the Gumpert is half the price of the other hypercars and faster. It is probably the most hardcore hypercar save for the FXX and that's not road legal... But then again even at that "bargain" price, if you are that hardcore why are you not racing? Why ask why, just drive it if you ever get the chance!

If you have any specific questions I have not addressed post in the comments, Here is the onboard video and you can download the Traqmate file HERE.


  1. Braking abilities look awesome! BTW why would he say "no no no, must go slow!" for a small bit of oversteer, but he lets you go 150 on the straights? lol?!?

  2. Lord have mercy for the pavement underneath those tires! Looking forward to more :)

  3. Great read! I will be looking at the videos tonight, because that's a bit difficult at a customer's location :)

    Let me know something when you are flying over to Europe again, maybe I can help you on the logistics. I'm flying over to New York in February (from Belgium). If I find time, I will contact you to see wether there are track opportunities @ the Big Apple.

  4. First, what is your camera setup now? I don't remember seeing a helmet cam in the past.

    2nd, I didn't realize there were much if any options on the Apollo. Just looking at the pics I see 2 different wings and 2 different air scoops info the engine bay. Are these options or am I seeing differences updates to the model?

  5. @ Chris. The Gumpert rep told me they have yet to build two identical cars. ( they sold 49 so far) Everything is customizable including the wing and the air intake which comes in three different styles. You would be crazy not to order it with that big GT wing though!

  6. @ Bart. Thanks for the offer, a trip to Spa is still very much on my must do list for the future. I'm afraid that New York in February means that the closest you can come to going on a track is an indoor kart place! Unless Monticello Motor Club is going to do the winter driving series again!

  7. I guess Santa comes in November to where you live! Can you send him here next? I want to drive an F40 at Maranello... ;)

  8. I don't get it. As you rightly say it's a full-on hyper car yet it somehow holds the Ring record even though the equally unpractical Radical SR8 slaughters it (6.44?) for a fraction of the price?

  9. Well, as "road legal" cars go, the Gumpert is already stretching it but at least it can be driven without a helmet and has a roof to keep dry when it rains! :)

    Oh, and It has a trunk...kinda, it's pretty funny actually: the trunk is literally that, a removable box that sits right above the gearbox and exhausts.... you can imagine the practical applications of that, You can do your laundry and not ever have to put it in the drier, simply insert it in the trunk before your trip and it will be dry in 15 minutes!

  10. Yes Radicals, Lotus 2-11, KTM X-Bow don't classify at all as Street cars from any common sense perspective. It is a nice loophole that exists in the UK and Europe that you can drive one on the street on your way to the track saving the painful towing experience.
    AC, how was the build quality? Truly Germanic (or more Brit-shedish)?
    What an amazing track-day! I assume we should plan going back soon!?

  11. It's a funny mix, it's a full out race car that can be ordered with contrasting stitching on the leather. Plus if yout turn signal brakes you can run down to your Audi VW dealer and pick up the part (the inside door handles are Audi A6, the vents Audi TT). I has a radio... :o)

  12. that was by far the most boring and uninspired video i have seen on the axis so far. what is the point of carrying a supercar around the track behind an imaginary pacecar? if the guy feels to female to let you throw his car around - fine... but why bore others needlessly?
    14+ minutes of my life wasted :(


  13. Geez... tough crowd, next time I drive the world's fastest street car I'll make sure no to write anything about it! :o)

  14. @AC common, snap out of it. i mean, you drove the worlds fastest streetcar, good for you.
    be happy about it. don't be a girl and let one posting in the comments spoil that expierience for you. my words where harsh, guaranted, but it was not my intention to spoil your fun. howewer... isn't the point of driving the worlds fastest streetcar on a closed racetrack to go to the limit?
    well at least that's my opinion. and i'd do it. even if the guy next to me never talks again to me in my whole life.

    -- abductee

    p.s.: the first time (age 11 or 12) i sat in a gokart i roled it 2.5x and the bloody thing landed on top of me. i drove again minutes later. i never stopped pushing since then.

    p.p.s: bashing luca badoer and driving a gumpert "calmly" doesn't add up that well.

    p.p.p.s: i kept thinking this is "the axis of oversteer" not the "axis of barely steering at all" :)

    (sorry man, that last one just had to get out... i'm just that kind of guy :)

    -- abductee

  15. Geez indeed. I'd suggest it's easy enough to flick forward or flick off if uninterested.

    Having driven a few 'other peoples' cars on tracks I would suggest simple respect, applied with experience, is how to do your first laps in an unfamiliar car. That way to go faster, learn more, enjoy it better and don't end up looking like a cock or rolling it 2.5x

    Just my view you understand!


  16. Haha... no worries, I'm glad to see even Luca has his own rabid fanboys! Interesting you bring him up, his problem was that he was slow compared to his competition. I had nobody to compare to except the Gumpert guy and I was faster :)

    I Uploaded a shorter version for you so you don't have to suffer so :O))

  17. @AC: meh.
    i dont want to spoil you fun, but i'd really liked to have you seen pushing that appolo and enjoy it, like strietzel stuck here:

    -- abductee

  18. or rather that one:

    -- abductee


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