Here’s an indisputable fact: keen drivers have never had it so good where brand new road racers are concerned. Want proof? Head down to the Supercar Paddock at the Festival of Speed and check out the cars in the newly introduced Class 32: Race Cars for the Road. Obvious really…
JUN 24th 2016
Can Caterham Confirm Its Crown As King Of The Road Racers?
Here you will find some of the most focused and finely engineered race cars for the road, most of them British, ever to turn a wheel on public tarmac. Piloted mostly by keen young guns, they are also sure to be among the very fastest cars up the hill at FoS in 2016.
This new breed is characterised by exquisite engineering, hi-tech materials, advanced aero and power-to-weight ratios routinely well above 500bhp/tonne. The quickest get from 0-62mph in sub 3 seconds.
Ariel, Radical, BAC, Zenos, Vuhl, Elemental – plus a couple we at GRR had never heard of – will all be vying for honours… along of course with two marques with more claims to “road racer for the road” fame than most.
Lotus has its new 3-Eleven while opposite it in the paddock is the firm that for over 40 years now has traded on a different, and earlier, Lotus model: the 7, 60 years old next year and since 1972 expertly developed and honed by Caterham.
Caterham’s newest model, the supercharged 620R, is the ultimate 7. Its so-familiar shape might stand in stark contrast to some of the rivals it has helped inspire, like the BAC Mono in the bay next to it, but for power and lightweight it’s the daddy of them all.
“If we can get traction we’ll be off the line and up to 62mph in 2.79 seconds, so we will be right there with the others up the hill,” Caterham’s Alex Beck tells GRR.
There is no launch control or other driver aids here, just a focus on back-to-basics road-racer fundamentals. “The 620R has as much lightness and fun as you can package into one car,” adds Alex. “With carbon cycle guards and seats, it has as much lightness as we can get in, but to a cost.” And at just over £50,000 the ultimate Caterham is more affordable than some of the new-generation road racer models.
For the Race Cars for the Road shootout at FoS, the 620R will be driven by multiple Caterham racing champion and former British GT champ, Jon Barnes.
Who will be fastest? “The Radical is sure to be quick, and Oli Webb in the BAC Mono will be pushing on. But the 620R will be there or thereabouts, even in this packed field.”
Photography by Pete Summers