If you’re an automotive enthusiast who likes the odd track day and you’ve never heard of the Radical SR8, then strap yourself in for the ride of your life, as these things do street legal speed as well as Ferrari does F1.
The Nurburgring Nordschleife, in Germany, is the world’s most extreme and without doubt, the most harrowingly dangerous race circuit in the world.
To complete a fast lap here, driver’s need to blast through 20.832 kilometres on some of the nastiest and quickest bends on god’s earth, at speeds as high as 270km/h and over 330km/h on the straight bits.
Some of that danger can be attributed to the often changing weather conditions. On one part of the track, it can be sunny and dry, while on another, the heavens can open up and the tarmac will be soaked.
The Nordschleife has well and truly earned its rightful place as both the automotive Holy Grail for manufacturer performance testing, and the place where blindingly fast lap times, count for everything.
Any guess as to which car holds the fastest lap time here for road legal cars?
It’s called the Radical SR8 LM, which in August 2009 became the undisputed king of street legal sports cars, by recording the staggeringly quick time of 6:48 seconds and in the process, smashing all other previous attempts. The Radical actually broke it’s own record of 6:55 seconds, which had stood since 2005.
To put this extraordinary time into some perspective, consider that the ferociously fast Dodge Viper ACR (7:22.1) and the outrageously styled track missile, the Gumpert Apollo Speed, are both considerably slower than the Radical, at least around the Nordschleife.
For those sceptics who might be temped to denounce the Radical as a pure racer (it certainly looks that way), Michael Vergers, the actual lap record driver, drove the SR8 LM from the factory in Peterborough in UK, all the way to the ‘Ring’ just to prove that the car was in fact, road legal.
Even the Dunlop Direzza tyres were road legal and only one set was used for during the entire journey.
Radical co-founder Mick Hyde, said of the event: We’ve proved that the SR8LM is not only the world’s best track day car, but also practical enough to be driven to and from the circuit. It is a genuine production sports car, with genuine performance credentials…”
Powering the SR8LM is a Powertec prepared 2.8-litre version of Suzuki’s Hayabusa engine, which develops 460bhp (340 kW) of power through a bespoke six-speed transaxle. Shifts are also F1 style fast, with a Powertec paddle shift system, which allows flat up shifts, auto-blipper and clutchless downshifts.
As a track day car for enthusiasts and would be racers, you simply cannot oversell this thing. Grip level, brakes, and sheer acceleration are simply off the charts.
The Radical SR8 can lap the famous Silverstone circuit in the same time as a Formula 3 single seater racecar, which is absolutely mind-blowing.
Australia is getting in on the Radical act too, with more cars sold here in the last twelve months, than in the UK. Radical Australia has sold 20 new cars this year, but only four of them have been the SR8. They also expect to sell another 10 cars over the next twelve months.
By far the most popular Radical, has been the 1500 SR3 RS with 194 kW and a base price of $100,000. There’s also a long list of very enticing options, which could easily see that price inflate somewhat.
That said if you want to go serious sports car racing or simply like the idea lapping Eastern Creek faster than a V8 supercar, then Radical is by far the best option.
The cost to run these cars on the track is far more reasonable than you would ever expect of such a high performance racer. Put that down to the car’s superlight 575 kilograms.
For example, expect your engine to last up to 30 race hours (that’s under factory warranty too) after which, a full engine refresh costs just $6000, and is covered by a new 30-hour factory warranty.
Don’t expect to replace your brake pads or rotors either. I mean, they’re probably going to last a full race season. It’s the same story with tyres. At Eastern Creek, you can expect to get at least 200 laps from a set of fresh rubber.
The cost of fuel won’t worry you either. The 54-litre tank should be good for around 50 laps of the circuit.
Radical Australia seems like a thoroughly professional outfit run by a group of clever businessmen under the guidance of CEO Greg Smith, who all just happen to have been (and still are) Radical owners and/or racers, before getting serious and intent on growing the brand here in Australia.
The company been running the one make 2010 Industrie Radical Cup with great success and 2011 will see substantial growth and media coverage.
Next year’s championship series to be sponsored again by hip clothing brand Industrie, will feature 9 championship rounds, made up of 5 sprint races in the 2C Sportscars category, and four enduro rounds (2 X 50 minute races) for Radical cars only.
There are also Radical Track Day sessions (11 of those) operated by Driving Solutions, Radical Race School sessions, and Radical Racecraft Bootcamp for those wanting to improve their lap times. All in all, it’s a complete Radical program, from track novice to race competitive.
Radical owners don’t even have to maintain or truck the cars to the circuits. That’s all taken care of by Radical Australia for far less than you would ever expect the cost to be.
CarAdvice hopes to bring you a video road test of the SR3 and SR8 at Eastern Creek raceway in the not too distant future.