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October 2013 Editor's Letter - The Helicopter Was Too Low To Drive Under!

Oct 10, 2013

This month's cover feature witnessed several "firsts". For example, I'll bet this was the first time an Audi 80 has beaten the R8 V10 Plus. As well as the first time I've had to drive around a helicopter hovering over the runway we were using.

With a helicopter at our disposal, thanks to a generous but anonymous owner, we were able to get some unique photos and video footage of our exploits (see it at at www.europeancarweb.com)

The most memorable occasion was actually driving under the hovering craft for the cameras. The idea was to get exciting footage of the cars flashing underneath, but as Javad and I sat at the startline, it didn't appear we'd have room to pass under.

The helicopter appeared incredibly low, and although it was the type made famous by the Mash TV show, we hoped we wouldn't need any mobile medical attention.

Requesting the pilot gain some altitude, we were still slightly apprehensive as we embarked on a full-speed run. Accelerating from 30-150mph in approximately a half-mile, both cars were extremely fast. Yet the closer we got to the helicopter, the nearer to the ground it appeared to be.

As we closed to within a few yards, we had to decide whether to drive underneath. I'll admit both Javad and I erred on the side of caution, veering around the chopper.

Unfortunately, the pilot also decided that perhaps he was rather low and, fearful that the disturbed air from our cars might upset his hover, decided to gain height as we passed below.

While that may have seemed like a good idea, the down-wash from the rotorblades forced air under the cars, causing both to veer offline as they became decidedly "light" without clean air passing over them.

With a wide airfield, plenty of runoff and nothing to hit, we weren't in any danger but it's an experience neither of us will forget in a hurry. The proximity of the aircraft, the speed of the cars and the way they reacted will keep me puckered for another few months!

That aside, it was an amazing experience to hear the "thwack, thwack," of the rotorblades a few feet off your shoulder, often out of sight as the pilot swooped in for our photographer.

Using high-speed cameras and on-car Go-Pros, we captured some amazing footage of the two Audis in action. Admittedly, you'll know the outcome from reading our story in this issue, but hopefully it won't spoil your enjoyment.

Please visit www.europeancarweb.com to see the edited video.

Next month we'll have another great video of our Jaguar XFR in action against one of Germany's finest. We don't want to spoil the surprise, but you can probably guess what car we chose... Regardless, it was another unforgettable experience to drive these heavy hitters as hard as they should be.

We'll have the full comparison test in the next issue, but please enjoy our studio photos and introduction to the Jaguar build elsewhere in this issue.

Greg Emmerson
Editor
european.car@sorc.com

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