For a company that once prided itself on not being overly bothered with the faff of motoring racing, the new SC63 hybrid racing prototype is the net result of a dazzling u-turn. Lamborghini only inaugurated its motorsport division, Squadra Corse, a decade ago. In that time, the manufacturer has done a good job of making its presence felt in the production car-based GT category. But its decision to compete in next year’s World Endurance Championship - including 24 Hours of Daytona and Le Mans - plainly represents a major escalation of time, effort and ambition.
According to Lamborghini, the timing of the wider LMDh project coincided with an inevitable shift in strategy as it looks toward the end of the decade. “The SC63 is the most advanced racing car ever produced by Lamborghini and it follows our roadmap ‘Direzione Cor Tauri’ laid out by the brand for the electrification of our product range,” reasoned Stephan Winkelmann, Lamborghini’s Chairman and CEO.
“The opportunity to compete in some of the biggest endurance races in the world with a hybrid prototype fits with our vision for the future of high-performance mobility, as demonstrated for road legal cars with the launch of the Revuelto. The SC63 LMDh is the step into the highest echelons and into the future of motorsports for our Squadra Corse.”
Privately, Winkelmann explained to PH that Lamborghini increasingly regarded success in motorsport as an essential part of its relationship with buyers, and the chance to share a grid with the likes of Ferrari and Porsche in very high-profile competition was too good a chance to turn down - especially when LMDh rules meant it could stamp its own personality on the car.
Most notably, that much is evident in the bodywork. Lamborghini has partnered with Ligier, one of the firms responsible for providing a pre-approved monocoque - but where the styling was not preordained by either regulations or the wind tunnel, it is said to be the work of the Centro Stile design department, and features brand styling cues throughout to make it ‘immediately recognisable as Lamborghini’.
“The main recognition of the front and rear of the SC63 is driven by the y-shaped signature light,” noted Mitja Borkert, Lamborghini’s Head of Design. “Integrated into the side panel of the body you can see a NACA duct that was inspired by the air intake of the Countach. When you look at the rear wheel arch, we gave the impression of acceleration towards the front, and this relates to the wheel arch design language of Lamborghini that can also been seen on the Revuelto.”
Complemented by familiar livery - the Verde Mantis green and Italian Tricolore recognisable from the Huracan GT3 - the SC63 definitely looks the part. But of likely greater interest is the all-new 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 which Lamborghini is said to have developed specifically for its racing programme. Unlike its previous V8 - and obviously distinct from the V10 it has raced with elsewhere - the new unit adopts a ‘cold V’ configuration, meaning its turbos are mounted outside the cylinder bank - partly to aid cooling, but also because it is said to lower both mass and the car’s centre of gravity.
As with all LMDh entries, the petrol engine is twinned with a standard gearbox, battery and motor generator unit (MGU), and limited to a combined output of 680hp. But the (hopefully impressive) noise will be all its own, and it remains to be seen whether or not the new V8 - or some road-going derivative of it - will be part of the technological trickle-down that Lamborghini insists it is working towards.
“Motorsport is, to us, also a valuable and demanding proving ground for our technology,” says Rouven Mohr, Lamborghini’s Chief Technical Officer. “Our LMDh car, the Lamborghini SC63, is an exciting challenge from both a technical and a human standpoint. The development of our internal combustion engine, aerodynamically efficient bodywork and the overall technical package is a process that has pushed us to constantly raise our own standards. As we develop our LMDh car, we are also mindful of the technology transfer opportunities. We will take our learning experiences from motorsport and apply them where possible to our future production cars.”
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