This car has the RPE V8 engine we designed for Radical Sportscars. The initial design brief from Radical in 2002 was for an engine to go into a car designated SR8 that would have dual purpose of circuit racing and road use. We worked through 2003 and 2004 with Radical's design team to integrate engine and chassis and with Quaife to design a transaxle gearbox to suit the car. From the SR8's launch in 2005 it was such an instant racing success that only a few road going versions have been made to special order.
In a recent interview for a SolidWorks blog I told them “from the very first day I started working with Radical, I wanted one of these cars. So for 10 years I've been asking Radical if they would sell me one and they've always said 'NO''. I think they were worried I would either kill myself straight away, have a bad accident or be a total embarrassment to them and keep breaking down”. But in early 2015 the right car came up for sale and Radical agreed to support our project.
'SR08 RAD' is a 2009 specification SR8, UK road registered and previously used as a demonstrator by the factory. The car is to be used as a test bed for SPD designs and features.
'SR08 RAD' is identical to the SR8 'AE09 LBU' as driven by Michael Vergers to the Nurburgring Nordschleife road legal lap record of 6 min 48 seconds in August 2009. The second fastest time set around the Nordschleife for a road legal car (6 min 55 seconds) is also by Michael Vergers driving a Radical SR8 in September 2005. Neither of these times has been beaten in over 10 years, though many rival manufacturers have tried and failed.
These lap record feats are all the more remarkable as the SR8s were driven from the Radical factory at Peterborough, England to the Nurburgring, Germany and the lap record was established using the same set of road legal tyres, although practice laps were done using a spare set of tyres.
I am no racing driver but it is thrilling to drive a car powered by your own engine design and so, inspired by this style of driving to events and then using the car on track, I set off on my own long distance drives to circuits, beginning in June 2015 when I drove 'SR08 RAD' to Goodwood Festival of Speed, not to compete, just as a spectator.
Several track days during the summer were completed without incident. When you intend to drive the car home, you have to leave a margin back from 'the limit', yet 'SR08 RAD' has always been one of the quicker cars at events. This is down to the cars capability not the driver's. I am a designer, not a racing driver.
Nick Walford, chief designer at Radical, has created a masterpiece with the SR8, it looks terrific, just like an LMP2 racecar circa 2002. Total weight is only 650kg with 380bhp, that makes for an extreme power to weight ratio and acceleration that is out of this world. But braking and cornering at 2G are even more impressive than the acceleration. Nick's suspension and aerodynamic downforce enable the tyres to grip like they are bonded to the tarmac.
In September 2015 I drove 'SR08 RAD' to Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium with daughter Lula as passenger, for a track day at the circuit and to watch GT Open and Radical European Masters races. Several luggage solutions were devised inside the bodywork to carry all tools to work on the car and luggage for 2 people for 5 days.
In October 2015 I drove 'SR08 RAD' to Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain for a 6 day trip, with nephew Jez as passenger, to watch GT Open and Radical European Masters races. This included working until 2am one night to rebuild a Quaife 7 speed transaxle from an RXC Spyder, which then set fastest lap in its race the next morning.
On 22nd November 2015 I gave passenger rides for donations at Snetterton Charity Passenger Ride Experience. It was a bitterly cold day of snow and rain, but thanks to the determined punters we raised £1400 for a group of East Anglian charities.
In November 2015, acknowledging all this larking about, Radical invited me to drive SR08 to their awards evening at Brooklands Museum, Surrey, UK where they presented me with a magnificent glass trophy for 'Outstanding Achievement in a Radical', which was lovely, but we had to leave it with them, too large and fragile to carry home in a Radical!