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The Lion Roars: Holden VF Ute Sets Nürburgring Record

When reviewers want to say that a vehicle handles well, they often mention how the designers did the testing at the Nürburgring. The “Ring” is considered to be one of the most demanding and difficult race courses in the world, and to get around the track in one piece is a sign of a good car and/or a good driver.

Not many utes have been tested at the Nürburgring.  This is partly because these aren’t common vehicles over in Europe (which raises the question about what tradespeople use to haul their gear around – do they all use lorries and vans? And does every single farmer in the European Union use 4×4 motorbikes and tractors to do the rounds?). But back in February this year, when the design team at Holden were just putting the finishing touches on the new Holden VF Commodore, they decided to put the ute through its paces on the (in)famous Nürburgring.

Only two utes had been put through their paces at the Nürburgring before: the Dodge  Ram SRT rigged up with the 8.0-litre V10 engine from the Viper, and the Ford  F-150 SVT Raptor with a supercharged 6.2-litre V8. It was rather lucky for Holden that a VF Commodore was in Europe already when they had this bright idea: a pre-production model was undergoing a bit of testing in Spain. Time was short: this model would either have to be crushed in Spain or sent back home to Australia within six weeks.

There was no time to book a famous professional racing driver.  Instead, the best driver they had on hand was Rob Trubiani, a member of the chassis design team who had been on hand for the testing in Spain, which included calibrating and fine-tuning the ESP.  Trubiani was not and is not a racing driver, but he was a certified Nürburgring test driver.  After all, what better way to ensure that the chassis you’ve designed works brilliantly than to see how it goes through the Nürburgring?

The team at Holden selected ANZAC Day (Australian time) as the day to put the Holden VF Commodore SS-V Redline Ute against the clock. However, they managed to get it out onto the track in the hands of Rob Trubiani before then, as the track had some of their industry pool days on (days when the track circuit is kept for manufacturers to test cars on). This nearly spelled disaster, as the Holden had a close brush with an Audi  that sent the ute off the track onto the dirt at the exit. But what’s a bit of dirt to a ute? Even with this close call, the Holden still managed to do the track in under the 8 mins 40 seconds Trubiani thought it capable of doing.

ANZAC Day dawned in Australia as Trubiani lined the Holden VF Commodore Ute up ready to go. The ride is better seen than merely described, which readers can do at this link, complete with Rob Trubiani providing the commentary on his drive.  He gets airborne at one part and dodges debris from a prototype Jaguar  that exploded during the industry pool days, but still picks up a time of 8:19:47.  And now, the Holden can proudly claim that it’s the fastest time for a ute to complete the Nürburgring. Sure, “utes, pickups and commercial vehicles” is a new category for the Ring, but a record is a record!

To quote Shakespeare, “Well roared, lion!” 

4 comments

  1. Dave Rodgers says:

    Another Australian record. Proud to be an Aussie!! Well done HOLDEN…

    July 26th, 2013 at 1:07 pm

  2. Graham Chapman says:

    Who cares

    July 26th, 2013 at 6:30 pm

  3. Alex Ace Melb says:

    Who cares about the VF utes speed time even though you wern,t told that a Renault 4cyl turbo pipped it off slightly time wise.
    Were am I going to do those speeds in Australia were every were you go there are speed cameras and cops out to make money or lock up your car for months and loose your licence.
    What I want is a Commodore Diesel which puts out 600nm torque as does the R-spec VW Amarok V6 ute and uses bugger all fuel.
    Silly Holden no wonder nobody buys there cars.

    July 27th, 2013 at 5:18 pm

  4. Greg Burton says:

    Feel sorry for those three respondants No GUTS NO GLORY Go Holden!!!!!!!!!!

    July 30th, 2013 at 1:32 pm