We’re all set to take that legend on a short tour of British roads. These cars are about to set out on a 200-mile convoy intended to reveal just how usable they are in the real world. Starting here, and taking in Silverstone circuit in Northamptonshire, Donington Park circuit in Derbyshire and then some favourite roads on the edge of the Peak District, our journey should rack up a modern Formula 1 race distance in the space of 36 hours.
On the way, there will be motorway, A-road and B-road; traffic queues, potholes and speed bumps; high kerbstones and narrow car parks; and, I’m very much hoping, a bit of proper British weather. So exactly how will that kind of trip be negotiated by a ‘prototype’-style modern Le Mans racer for the road, a road-converted GTE-class competition machine and a sports car with very serious circuit abilities? What kind of road-going existence are you in for in each of them – and would you be crazy to contemplate it?
Right now, I’m wondering myself. This was, needless to say, not muggins’ idea, and when it all goes wrong and I’m left waiting for a recovery truck by the side of the A43, I shall lay the blame entirely on Matthew James Prior. Right now, he’s probably engaged in something much more sensible. Sensible people don’t normally set out on road trips unless they’re confident they’ll arrive at their destination – and I’ve already heard tales from colleagues about early GT test cars breaking down several times in the same day.
I’ve experienced first-hand how fragile the Radical RXC can be: the last time I drove one, I started out with all seven forward gears present and correct and ended up with three. If we make the full 200 miles in all three of these cars by teatime tomorrow, I’ll have reason to question my main reservation about them: reliability. And I sincerely hope that proves to be the case.
Tuesday, 11.23am - Oxford Services, M40:
When regular Autocar group test driver and all-round top bloke Nick Stafford “needs a brew”, he explains, “I really need a brew”. Which must be true if he’s willing to take on a Starbucks ‘drive-thru’ in a Radical RXC. He’s causing a bit of a stir (preceded by milk and two sugars – badoomtish). You wouldn’t imagine he could reach far enough upwards from the driver’s seat to hand over his loyalty card, let alone find somewhere in the car to put his drink - but guess what? The Radical’s got a cupholder.
More importantly, Nick’s not tearing his hair out or desperately making alternative onwards travel plans having driven it this far.
“It’s fine,” he says, “once you get used to the seat. And the doors. And the clutch. And the noise. Not that I’d have one. If you can afford one of these, you can afford a BMW X5 and a trailer.” As ever, it’s impossible to argue with the common sense of this man.