An American adventure

An American adventure

The Joshua Tree National Park offers staggering views and twisty roads. With a range of supercars to track, what could be better, Jack Evans asks.

Occasionally, a trip comes on the cards that seems simply too good to be true. A drive through Joshua Tree National Park in California in some of the latest supercars on the planet with just the sun and the open road to contend with – seems pretty implausible wouldn’t you say?

However, Michelin Tyres wanted to take us out to one of the best areas of driving roads in the world to test its latest Pilot Sport 4S tyre – and Joshua Tree was, indeed, where we were headed.

Not only that, but we’d also take to the Thermal Club race circuit to truly see what’s what. Quite the day, we’re sure you’d agree.

Arriving at the meeting area, we were greeted by a collection of cars that would make even the most avid supercar spotter weak at the knees. A Ferrari California T stood proudly alongside an Audi R8 V10 Plus and a Mercedes C63S Coupe.

Thankfully, we wouldn’t have to pick just one – we’d get the chance to pilot each and every one through the staggering scenery that Joshua Tree offers.

Starting off in the Audi R8 V10, we began carving our way through rocky outcrops and Martian-like plains towards Joshua Tree. The R8 made quick progress through the tight sections, though recent rains had deposited all manner of detritus on the surface, which meant that any increase in speed was accompanied by an unpleasant noise as stones were sent up into the wheel arches and, more often, right into the windscreen.

Travelling in a convoy of supercars certainly drew attention, with many passing drivers beeping or waving in recognition of the fleet

Luckily, the poor road surface quickly gave way to a better level of tarmac, with long sweeping turns dispatched quickly by the effortlessly quick R8. Travelling in a convoy of supercars certainly drew attention, with many passing drivers beeping or waving in recognition of the fleet of cars.

Quickly we jumped from the R8, with its engine crackling in the heat, to the aptly named Ferrari California T.

The Italian manufacturer had endured much criticism following its choice to fit a turbocharged engine into its popular roadster, but here that didn’t dampen the California’s well-suited ability to cruise – something that would prove popular in the next road stage.

The roads continued to wind impressively, with entry into the National Park accompanied by the trees that gave the area its name. Though not as loud as the V10-powered R8, the California T still made its presence known, with people stopping to look at the bright red Prancing Horse.

At our third and final stop, it was time to swap from the Ferrari into Mercedes’ fire-breathing C63S. Powered by a 4.0-litre biturbo engine, it’s a modern-day muscle car and one which can prove to be quite a handful. Thankfully, the bone-dry roads were the ideal place to apply all 503bhp that the C63S produces.

Setting off for the final leg of the journey, we’d been told that the roads got a lot more challenging ahead. Having been treated to some fantastic sections already, we couldn’t quite imagine how they got better.

How wrong we were.

Carving down through Box Canyon, the roads became even more challenging, with cambered turns followed by arrow-straight roads that allowed you to test not only the car’s handling, but the performance of the tyres too.

The C63S’s engine provided the perfect soundtrack to the drive, bellowing and ricocheting off the canyon walls. It was accompanied by all the other cars in the convoy, with all manner of exhaust and engine noises combining to create one amazing racket.

Driving up to the Thermal Club, a racetrack located in the centre of the desert, we were set for the next stage of the adventure.

There, we’d be able to test the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres at higher speeds, as well as see how they performed under pressure. However, our introduction had been quite something – and the road trip had been one to remember.

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