What is it?
The Caterham R600 is a racing car for those who think the R300, currently top of the racing Sevens tree, isn't fast enough. It seems a lot of competitors think that of the highly tuned, naturally-aspirated R300. But instead of using the even more highly tuned, road-only R500, the new, race-only R600 (keep up) has a supercharger strapped to its 2.0-litre Ford Duratec so that it makes 275bhp.
To say it's fast would be something of an understatement.
But that's also true of the R500, which makes an unshabby 263bhp, so why a new model rather than racing with R500s? Because, says Caterham, the speed gains of the R500 are marginal given the blurry revs it needs, while consistently running near 9000rpm brings a reliability compromise.
The R600 – whose peak power arrvives at 7500rpm – is less stressed and torquier, with 200lb ft instead of the 500's 177.
That means the R600 will pootle at 20mph for car-to-car tracking photos without a care in the world. Most racing cars would be spitting, complaining and grumbling at the nasty, low-revolution chore, but the R600 is a happy bunny. Caterham has not announced plans to make a road version, but its race models usually adopt number plates once they've been track proven. The supercharged Duratec feels flexible enough already.
And the rest of the hardware? Well, that's a touch less adaptable for the road. Caterham wanted the R600 to be much quicker than the R300; about four seconds per typical lap is the ambition. So there are Bilstein race dampers, a full roll cage, a Sadev sequential six-speed gearbox (allowing clutchless upshifts), a limited-slip differential and, when the championship starts this spring, it'll use slick Avon tyres.