|Pagani Zonda R Evoluzione|
Towards the very end of the Zonda production-run, Pagani launched the most extreme development yet; the Zonda R. Although still based on the Zonda design, the track-day special already incorporated many elements of the upcoming Huayra. The original example was commissioned by an Italian-American customer, who already owned three 'regular' Zondas. It would become the first of at least fifteen Zonda Rs built.
What was carried over from the previous versions was the beautiful carbon-fibre monocoque chassis. For this purpose, it was equipped with a chrome-moly, tubular roll-cage. On both ends of the central monocoque, aluminium subframes were fitted on which the suspension was mounted. This consisted of double wishbones on all four corners with rocker-actuated coil springs over dampers. Carbon-ceramic discs provided the stopping power for the high performance machine.
Engine partner AMG-Mercedes provided a competition-bred V12 that was previously used in the CLK-GTR competition car. Displacing just under six litre, it produced around 750 hp and 710 Nm of torque. Despite these performance figures, it could run for 5,000 at race pace before requiring service. An absolute work of art was the ceramic-coated, Inconel 625 exhaust system. Like the other Zondas, the 'R' featured four exhaust pipes placed in a square at the heart of the rear-end.
Another novelty was the transversely mounted gearbox supplied by British specialists XTrac. Sporting six forward gears, the sequential gearbox was operated through paddles behind the steering wheel. This was a break with tradition and philosophy for Pagani as the previous Zonda models used a more conventional manual gearbox with a three-pedal setup. Connecting the engine and gearbox was a multiple disc sintered clutch.
Built as a pure-bred racing car, the Zonda R's interior was equipped with only the bare necessities. In its original guise, the car sported a full width, adjustable rear wing, massive rear diffusor and a sizeable splitter. During the development period, much work focused on the splitter and front intakes, which substantially grew in size. Another striking feature was the roof-mounted airbox, which directly fed the big V12 engine.
Although work started late in 2006, the Zonda R did not debut until the 2009 Geneva Motor Show. It was later also demonstrated at the Goodwood Festival of Speed where it impressed with its raw pace and the glorious howl of the race-bred V12. Even more impressive was the 6:47 lap-time recorded at the Nürburgring set in June 2010 by Marc Basseng. Pagani initially intended to produce ten examples but due to the demand, this was increased to fifteen.
Well over a year after the Zonda was replaced by the Huayra, Pagani quietly revealed an 'Evoluzione' version of the 'R' at the 2012 Goodwood Festival of Speed. Externally it can be distinguished from the earlier examples by a distinct fin on the rear deck. It is believed to be powered by a 760 bhp version of the engine and it has already been sighted at the Nürburgring in the hands of Bernd Schneider.
Article by Wouter Melissen, last updated on July 18, 2012
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