RE: Ginetta G58 | Driven

RE: Ginetta G58 | Driven

Saturday 22nd June

Ginetta G58 | Driven

Ginetta has removed the stickers from its prototype and called it a track car. PH strapped itself in for a go...



'What was your lap time?' is the message I get from a mate of mine. I've absolutely no clue, is my response - but I can safely say it's quicker than any lap I've ever done at Donington previously. I didn't even think to time it because, in all honestly, I was just too busy.

There are fast cars here, and then there's the Ginetta G58. I've been around the track for a few familiarisation laps in some of Ginetta's other track cars, starting with the G40 GRDC. It has all of 135bhp, road tyres and a manual gearbox. Small numbers, but as it's only shifting 840kg it's huge fun and beautifully balanced. If I was told that would be my only drive for the rest of the day I would genuinely not have minded.

It isn't though, as there's a Ginetta G55 GT4 here, too. And it is a bit more senior. The weight is up to 1085kg, but there's 380bhp from a 3.7-litre V6, pneumatically actuated paddle-shifters, slick tyres and some aero. Even so, it exhibits all the ease, and balance of the G40, only it's much, much quicker.


A few laps in has it demolishing everything else that's out on track. Ginetta's development driver, Michael Simpson, says that it's a car that makes up most of its time in the corners. Its agility and easily carried speed making it a formidable GT4 car, with a sizeable haul of international trophies to show for it. I'm struggling to comprehend how I might be able to go any faster today.

The G58 is the answer. Ginetta calls it a track day car, but add a few stickers and it's eligible for open sportscar competition (a G58 won the Silverstone 12hrs in 2018). It's essentially a prototype racer then, with a carbon fibre monocoque and a 6.2-litre V8 with 575bhp. It weighs 940kg, has a Xtrac 6-speed sequential 'box, adjustable ABS, traction control and brake bias - none of which I'll be fiddling with - electric power steering and all the FIA approved gubbins like fuel cells, crash structures and race harnessing that allow it to compete - if you want to.

If you don't then there are always track and testing days. While Β£239,000 (before VAT) might seem excessive for a circuit-only toy, it's worth pointing out that a Carrera GT graced the tarmac at Donington on the day in question, among countless other exotics with prices north of what the G58 costs. Simpson gives me a brief tour of the cockpit, after helping me get in. The grace by which this is achieved generally depends on your familiarity with the machinery; in my case it's like squeezing toothpaste back into the tube. Strapped in, feet high in a classic reclined racing position, clutching the pistol grip steering wheel and doing my best to appear nonchalant as Simpson simply says 'enjoy it', and has the pit crew push me out of the garage.


Just the three stalls then; the clutch, as with any race car, being tricky to get right. No push of shame back to the garage to try again though, as the V8 fires again on the button on my fourth attempt, rolling down Donington's usefully downhill pit lane towards the track. Simpson said it's an easy thing to drive, which is easy to say when you've got Le Mans starts on your CV. Unlike the two cars previously where I felt I was asking them for their best performance, the G58 feels like it needs mine.

A tentative first lap is revealing, insomuch as racing cars don't like tentative. Driving it without commitment results in clumsy progress; jerking and recalcitrant, the G58 needs to be driven hard to reveal what it can do. On lap two I have that epiphany, and start to push the G58 properly, braking later and harder, committing earlier and quicker to the throttle, the paddle-shifted gears punching up and down the 'box, with zero delay. The trickiest thing about real downforce is unlearning the things you do in a normal car. With aero in play you can stand on the brakes as they work best when the forward momentum's generating maximum downward push. It does not pay to be delicate.

Conversely, you don't need to brake as much as you might anticipate. The G58 hangs on with such conviction that the turn-in speeds are on a different level to anything I've experienced before. The steering is light, which comes as a bit of a surprise; indeed, on a pure energy expended basis the G58's the least demanding of the three cars I've driven today. It is way less busy than the 135bhp G40 GRDC, as well as the G55 GT4. That's not to say I'm just lounging reclined in a carbon-fibre tub lapping at ever-increasing speeds - just that the physicality of driving it doesn't come from your inputs into it, but from the forces it subjects you to.


There is some traffic on track, but as soon as it's spotted it's gone, even those usually impossible to pass trackday Caterhams with their epic cornering speeds. The G58 gets better with every lap, and with heat now in the tyres and brakes it's quicker still. The immediacy of its response is startling, it so precise and accurate that you quickly learn to trust it implicitly. The engine, tractable at low revs, just sings as the lights signalling the proximity to its redline appeal on the wheel. They're a familiar sight now, particularly down Starkey's Straight, where I'm pulling for another gear and still accelerating past the point where I'd be preparing to brake in the other Ginettas. Through the flick-flack of the Esses, it's hilariously quick in changing direction, turn the wheel the merest millimetre and the nose darts at the new line.

It's that sense of connection which makes it so friendly to drive. You're never left second-guessing what it's doing as it's so obviously hard-wired to your inputs and returns exactly what you ask of it. There is a conspicuous absence of inertia; from the motor itself to the way the G58 catapults forwards. It's as if the V8's doesn't have any weight to move at all.

Driving it makes an absolute mockery of all those million-pound hyper and supercars, the G58's singular function meaning it does without compromises on track. A La Ferrari, 918 Spyder or a P1 wouldn't see which way it went, nor would a Senna. All while giving more, for significantly less. If being the quickest on track is all that matters - and, let's face it, we all want to be - then the G58 will seldom, if ever, be bettered on a track day.


I've argued before that speed isn't necessary to have fun, and I still stand by that - indeed, the G40 GRDC underlines it. But the G58 puts its savage turn of pace in a context that's backed with other competences, things that really matter if you love driving. It asks things of you, demands your attention, yet rewards with incredible feel, and huge, physical force. Yes, there's huge speed too, but it's the elements that generate it that are the car's truly beguiling and laugh-out-loud enjoyable features.

Getting out of it I've no idea of my lap times, and I don't care one bit. I know I was faster than I've ever been. "You weren't hanging about", Simpson told me later as we stood around chatting in the aftermath. That'll do for me. Although if I ever get a chance to drive a G58 again I might take a stopwatch - just to be sure.


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Author
Discussion

HM-2

Original Poster:

4,547 posts

113 months

Saturday 22nd June
quotequote all
I imagine there will be a procession of people moaning about how it's too expensive and pointless, but I think it's a fantastic thing and an very glad it exists. Probably the ultimate track day toy short of buying an old LMP car.

jayemm89

2,276 posts

74 months

Saturday 22nd June
quotequote all
To be fair, at least they're not chucking some leather in it and trying to pretend it's anything other than a race car.

I've seen the G57 on the move, very impressive machine.

The Wookie

11,669 posts

172 months

Saturday 22nd June
quotequote all
I raced the old G57 (same but no ABS) a few times, my back is still recovering from the two hour stints at Mugello...

2.5G lateral over and over again, basically turned my spine to mush!

Going flat over the craner’s about 40mph faster than I’d be having a lift in a touring car wasn’t something I’ll forget quickly either.

Krikkit

15,702 posts

125 months

Saturday 22nd June
quotequote all
HM-2 said:
I imagine there will be a procession of people moaning about how it's too expensive and pointless, but I think it's a fantastic thing and an very glad it exists. Probably the ultimate track day toy short of buying an old LMP car.
Short of genuine race machinery I'd say you're right, although the running costs for an LMP or F1 car will be much higher than this, I can't remember what they wired while we were at the factory but it was very reasonable hours before rebuilds etc.


redroadster

962 posts

176 months

Saturday 22nd June
quotequote all
Makes a Brabham look ridiculous in price ,in fact makes there own road car even more over priced ,can't work it all out tbh.

E65Ross

22,910 posts

156 months

Saturday 22nd June
quotequote all
It makes a mockery of how fast a road-biased and road legal car goes around a track? Well, of course. But then, this can't go on road.

Still, bet it's brilliant fun!

Panjy

79 posts

90 months

Saturday 22nd June
quotequote all
Would love one of these, proper prototype racer that normal folk can buy (albeit very rich normal folk).

bobo79

156 posts

93 months

Saturday 22nd June
quotequote all
This is basically their LMP3 car with ABS, right? From memory wasn’t this the first LMP3 to market, which subsequently was very much outclassed by Ligier et al? I expect they are trying to recoup investment made in that (as after year 1 basically no one bought them again), which seems like a good idea.

WokkaWokka

442 posts

83 months

Saturday 22nd June
quotequote all
This is what’s its all about. Great write up too, thoroughly enjoyable read.

robsco

6,613 posts

120 months

Saturday 22nd June
quotequote all
I love the fact that Ginetta exist. I was at Croft last weekend and the Ginettas were the highlight of the BTCC weekend for me. I've never understood, though, how they make any money?

Krikkit

15,702 posts

125 months

Saturday 22nd June
quotequote all
bobo79 said:
This is basically their LMP3 car with ABS, right? From memory wasn’t this the first LMP3 to market, which subsequently was very much outclassed by Ligier et al? I expect they are trying to recoup investment made in that (as after year 1 basically no one bought them again), which seems like a good idea.
Correct, although they would've made the tub and most of the development costs back that first year.


giveitfish

3,248 posts

158 months

Saturday 22nd June
quotequote all
And they’ve just released their next-gen LMP3

https://www.ginetta.com/lmp3

Maldini35

2,101 posts

132 months

Saturday 22nd June
quotequote all
Anybody know how it compares with a Radical RXC?



The Wookie

11,669 posts

172 months

Saturday 22nd June
quotequote all
Maldini35 said:
Anybody know how it compares with a Radical RXC?
Don’t know about how it is to drive but I think I was a couple of seconds a lap quicker at Donny and Snett in the dry.

A more open track the gap would be bigger, a tighter twisty track might be the other way round. It makes Donny feel like Brands Indy, if it wasn’t my first go in it I reckon I could have done a 58-59 on the National with fresh rubber

LateStarter

39 posts

22 months

Saturday 22nd June
quotequote all
Maldini35 said:
Anybody know how it compares with a Radical RXC?
So my comparison is from sharing tracks with both those cars.
I was at Donington last week in my Caterham when the journo's were testing this out for the article.
I'm a pretty aware driver and the way the Ginetta would appear in your mirrors and when waved through would disappear was simply astonishing.
Fastest thing I've shared a track with including Radicals.

ecsrobin

9,886 posts

109 months

Saturday 22nd June
quotequote all
Goodwood hold a sprint at their circuit once a year for members. I assume rocking up in one of these you could pretty much walk away with the trophy?

Seriously impressive bit of kit although does it stop becoming fun when everyone is slower than you?

subirg

581 posts

220 months

Saturday 22nd June
quotequote all
This looks great! And relatively good value especially compared to stuff like P1 GTR, fxx, Vulcan, etc etc. Almost certainly faster on any given circuit too... Win.

jayemm89

2,276 posts

74 months

Saturday 22nd June
quotequote all
redroadster said:
Makes a Brabham look ridiculous in price ,in fact makes there own road car even more over priced ,can't work it all out tbh.
I suspect I can explain it in part. If the G58 is anything like the G57, whilst it is immensely fast, and a genuine race car, it is a *race car*.

It is not luxurious, panel gaps are not the best and interior refinement is zero. The gearbox would be horrible on the road, as would be the rest of the car.

Making things look nice is generally not cheap. All of the money in this goes on the componentry, and the engine isn't exactly exotic.

DanielSan

14,284 posts

111 months

Saturday 22nd June
quotequote all
robsco said:
I love the fact that Ginetta exist. I was at Croft last weekend and the Ginettas were the highlight of the BTCC weekend for me. I've never understood, though, how they make any money?
If you've watched the Ginetta's racing you should know how they make money. Spare parts sales hehe

Jimbo89

70 posts

88 months

Sunday 23rd June
quotequote all
DanielSan said:
If you've watched the Ginetta's racing you should know how they make money. Spare parts sales hehe
I race a G40 and this is spot on... cry

The G58’s are very cool, I sat in one at Autosport a few years ago while we were backstage at the live show, very much a race car with no creature comforts. I’m 6’5” though and fit without difficulty which is rare in road cars never mind race cars. If you’re going to invest that much though, might as well take it racing!