April 6, 2011 11:52 AM |
Posted By: HenryCatchpole
Rated 5.0 out of 5.0 by 1 member
The day that a Toyota Yaris overtook you whilst you were in an Aston Martin Virage is not one that you should treasure in your heart in the hope of some day telling your Grandchildren about it, but…
In the new issue of evo that will have either just flopped through your letterbox or is waiting for you on the shelf of a newsagents (do newsagents actually still exist or does everyone just bung it into the basket with the Orange juice and Golden Grahams at Tesco?) there are two Aston Martin first drives. Both took place in Southern Spain, one of them is the Vantage S (which does an extremely good line in oversteer), the other is the new Virage (of which more in a moment). Had space permitted I would have also done a third Driven on the iced doughnuts that I had instead of breakfast at the Ascari circuit one morning. Definitely five stars.
Anyway, back to the Yaris. As is usual on launches I was sharing the Virage with another journalist. He’s a friend of mine from another magazine and has raced to a high level in the past, so he’s jolly nice chap to chat to and share the driving with. Most of our day in the bling white Aston was fairly uneventful. There was some hilariously belligerent driving from an elderly Spanish man in a narrow street in a small town, which elicited some lowering of windows and an argument that never really got past the language barrier, but otherwise it was just 490bhp some hairpins, some tunnels and lots of miles. Bliss.
It was towards the end of the day, with about 50miles left to the hotel, that we got mugged. And I should state, for the benefit of the jury, that I wasn’t driving. I should also state that I’d had a text message from David Shepherd (incidentally, a very amusing person to follow on twitter @downshep) that there were Police on the route and so we were being extra cautious in waiting for the speed limit derestriction as we left a village. Too cautious for the Yaris. He must have appeared at full tilt from a side road because one moment my friend swears there was nothing in the mirrors and the next this scruffy small Toyota was alongside and going for gold fifty yards before the derestricted signs. It was like one of those ‘You know when you’ve been Tangoed’ adverts.
I’m not a cruel person, but I reacted in exactly the way I think any friend would do – I burst out laughing and quickly improvised a childish chant about the driver’s humiliation at the hands of the Yaris. To be fair he took it all in good part and I settled down to enjoy what I though would be a short chase and retake of our rightful road position. Sure enough, pride dented and excuses flowing, we set off in pursuit. It was a fantastic piece of road, winding precipitously round a mountain and it was bathed in that early evening light that photographers admit is ‘almost useable’.
Admittedly the road played into the Toyota’s 14in wheels because it was narrow and also downhill, but the tatty little white box was being driven brilliantly. Both of us in the Virage were laughing out loud at times at the shear speed and commitment of the driver in front. There was no raggedness and we didn’t see the brake lights come on more than a couple of times in the next ten miles – it was a brilliant display and one that it was a privilege to watch from an excellent seat.
Eventually a straight appeared and we went past. The Toyota’s windows had been rudimentarily blacked out by some aftermarket sticky-back plastic, so sadly we couldn’t see the person inside. With some concerted driving we managed to stay ahead and even pull a little gap over the following miles, but there was a palpable sense of relief in the Virage when the Yaris disappeared from our mirrors in the next village, vanishing as quickly as it had appeared. If an unknown driver turns up in a Yaris at Rally Catalunya in October, watch out.