Pagani Top Gear tire controversy: I call it great preparation

Pagani Huayra with suspect tires

So this whole controversy has erupted over whether Pagani “cheated” to get the Top Gear lap record. In the first episode of the new season the Pagani Huayra managed a lap time of 1:12.8, the fastest they’ve ever had. Now, in order for the lap to count, a car must be road legal. Clarkson defines this as “being able to get over a speed bump”, but it also applies to a car having street legal tires. People noticed that, during the lap, the Huayra’s tires had a different tread pattern than those you see above, and indeed the tires do look sort of similar to the track spec tires seen on a Zonda R.

Jalopnik reached out to Pagani for comment. Because Pagani is full of good people, unlike other companies, they responded nicely, and admitted that two separate tires had been used for the Top Gear shoot. Pagani maintained that the tires used for the lap are indeed street legal, though. Pagani has a very close relationship with Pirelli, and helps them to develop new tires. The general consensus, at this point, is that the Huayra was on street-legal versions of the Zonda R’s racing slicks, tires that were custom made for Pagani. So yes, Pagani did use better than standard tires for the winning lap, but they were street legal, if only just.

Actual racing slicks on a Zonda R
The normal Pirelli tires found on the Huayra

My opinion is that, so long as the tires used were street legal, then the lap should stand. Quite plainly, it is the responsibility of any automaker sending a press car to a big show, like Top Gear, to ensure their car is prepared in a manner that will give the best showing possible for their audience. Pagani was really just doing their job here, and doing it well, I might add. They pushed the rules, but they didn’t brake them, and they wound up with the fastest lap time. That people, is how competitions have been won throughout all of time, and I applaud them for their thoughtful preparation. More to show us all that Pagani possesses an uncompromising commitment to excellence in their work, and not even press car logistics are allowed to be a routine motion. This is exactly why Pagani is my favorite.

Also, the way people are talking about this, you’d think it was some big, important scandal. Everyone is acting like its the F1 World Championship, and the winning driver cut a corner for a pass on the final lap. People, Top Gear is purely entertainment, and this is hardly any sort of serious legal matter. If the tires are legal, the time counts, if they’re found not to be, then I’m sure they will remove it. In the end, it was just a great episode, and a great moment when the Huayra won the top spot. Can’t we all just leave it at that?

-Nick Walker


5 thoughts on “Pagani Top Gear tire controversy: I call it great preparation”

  1. I strongly believe the lap times set should be done on the factory equipped tires, if you want to use those tires on your lap, sell those tires on the car.


    1. Pagani will sell you any tires you want on a car. In the same way they will fit any sort of material you want in the interior, and paint any color, any way. The tires used were developed by Pirelli especially for Pagani too, so technically they are factory Pagani tires the same as any others. What counts as “standard” changes greatly at the level of bespoke seven figure hypercars.


      1. And they are street legal in Britain? Right.
        Exactly what streets are Clarkson talking about?


  2. I see nothing wrong with using a special tire as long as it´s a street-legal one. Great by Pagani to answer the question with such a good explanation.
    Really impressive car, such details as pure artwork.


    1. Yea, I think Ferrari would have just blacklisted Jalopnik….. again lol.

      And it seems the tires used are a barely street legal version of the Zonda R’s special slicks, likely in the late stage of development. So “technically” they are even factory tires.


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