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stelvio pass

Dunlop Dream Drives: Stelvio Pass, Italy

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Italy, a country famous for its stunning landscapes, artistic culture, immense heritage, glorious food and the truly breath taking car design. For the second in Dunlop’s Dream Drives blogs for Tyres On The Drive we take on the might of Italy’s infamous Stelvio Pass but not in an Italian super car as one might think, but Nissan’s innovative GT-R. Could this world famous Italian road tame this Japanese beast?

Fighting Vertigo, Velocity and Voodoo

The Stelvio Pass is a driving enthusiast’s paradise, used on the silver screen by the likes of James Bond in his DB5, the twists and turns of this stunning road were not to be missed when Dunlop got together with Autocar to put its dream drives and dream cars to the test.

When starting your drive along the Stelvio Pass you’ll notice some rather unusual characters hidden in the landscape, voodoo dolls nestling in the trees. This rather spooky marker tells you something out of this world is about to happen. As you drive further long the pass the road starts to get narrower and then the twists and turns begin highlighting the calm before the storm.

A few miles further along you will spot yet more spooky signs as you notice what look like tomb stones at the side of the road but these are corner markers indicating the fun is about to start. Then you reach the first proper hairpin, a genuine first gear job, a 180 degree corner which is so tight you will wonder if you will actually make it.

It’s here that we let Steve Sutcliffe from Autocar take the lead and tell you all about this phenomenal drive. ‘At this corner, in any normal car you’d drop to first gear, wind on as much lock as possible and drive quietly on. But in a Nissan GT-R, hairpins like this are different. The steering lock almost can’t cope. The ESP takes the power away as it thinks the corner is simply too tight. Unless you turn it odd and throw the car into the corner, you’ll stop – not that it’s a hardship having to turn everything off and drive the GT-R with, shall we say enthusiasm.

The higher up, the crazier and twistier the roads gets. In places, I get vertigo looking into the valleys below: at its peak the Stelvio Pass hits 2,757m (around 9000ft) and it’s around 15km (over nine miles) of bends from the village of Gomagoi. About halfway up you start to wonder if the road will ever end. Hairpin after hairpin comes flying towards you, and you get dizzy, genuinely – because of the roads flow.

Then something magical starts to happen: it gets wider, the straights between the hairpins get longer and you can let rip, just a little bit. In a GT-R, it feels like a higher force propels you between the bends, one that’s capable of squeezing internal organs to a pulp as it fires you at the horizon. A GT-R on the Stelvio Pass, you begin to think, might actually be the purest, most intense driving experience of all. ‘

After just half an hour of the most extreme rollercoaster ride the team had experienced in their lives they reached the peak of the Stelvio Pass. Driving into the little skiing village, a local hot dog salesman offered them his wares and says: “nice car”. Nice car indeed and with Dunlop Sport Maxx GT 600 tyres as OE fitment, specifically produced for top-end sports cars you know you’ve had a drive worth dreaming over.

Watch the video here.

– Written by Anna Stanley @ Dunlop www.dunloptyres.co.uk 

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