Opinion: The Greatest Machine That I’ve Driven Over the Past Two Decades is…

It was so fast that I had to recalibrate my brain to come to grips with the sheer speed. It was so fast that it took my brain a few laps to catch up with my eyes.

By Dhruv Behl | on April 18, 2024 Follow us on Autox Google News

Now that may appear like a loaded statement, but the conclusion is surprisingly straightforward. The perks of this job have meant that I’ve been lucky enough to meet plenty of my heroes over the past couple of decades – the likes of Ferraris, Lamborghinis, McLarens, Porsches, and other such exotics. And, with the odd exception, there’s been very little disappointment.

Needless to say, there’s been an overdose of awe, admiration, salivation and aspiration along the way. If I had to be specific, I would have to list several of the usual suspects – in no particular order, the Ferrari 488 Pista, McLaren 675LT, Lamborghini Huracan STO, Porsche GT3 RS, et al. I suppose these are to be expected, but truth be told it’s the race cars that really stand out – right from the mad Bowler Wildcat to the MRF Formula 1600 single seater, not to mention the 1950s Jaguar C-Type, which won Le Mans in its day. Surprisingly, though, the one that really made an impression was a “lowly” VW Polo. Now this particular machine was no ordinary hatchback, but the winningest WRC (World Rally Championship) car of all time – the Polo R WRC – which I had the pleasure of piloting briefly at VW’s top-secret proving grounds, Ehra-Lessien, in the North of Germany.

The thing about race cars is that they don’t have any pretensions. Everything is there for a reason – which is either endurance, or (importantly) speed! And race cars don’t have to worry about carving out space for the school run, or a trip to the shops. In most cases, the quest for even a tenth of a second can be manic and obsessive.

But the most bare-bones form of racing is go-karts. It’s go-karts that serve as the kindergarten of all F1 drivers. In fact, not only do they all start there, but they all go back there on a regular basis to hone their skills. So, it shouldn’t really be all that surprising that the greatest machine that I’ve ever piloted is a go-kart!

But, again, this wasn’t a run of the mill go-kart from your neighborhood amusement park – this was a 30-horsepower shifter kart at the Paul Ricard circuit in the South of France. And it was absolutely insane! It was so fast that I had to recalibrate my brain to come to grips with the sheer speed. It was so fast that it took my brain a few laps to catch up with my eyes. I would find myself in the braking zone, and before my frontal lobe could process the flow of information, I was already accelerating out the other end. But when my motor skills did finally catch up, the thrill was like nothing that I had ever experienced before – or have since. It was raw; it was immersive; it was incredible. And that’s why it’s such a shame that this most accessible of motorsports is not more prevalent in our country.

But, because go-karts offer literally zero pretense, in order to keep the four cars on the cover of this issue honest – all cutting-edge modern day EVs – we’ve pitted each of them against a quartet of go-karts. So, don’t miss the cover story this month. It’s very special indeed…

Tags: Go Karting Opinion

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