On a chilly country road without a number, a rider of a pinto-patterned horse waves by the driver of a Day-Glo-coloured track car with a politeness undue to someone with vastly less business to be where he is than she.
It’s five degrees above freezing, it’s December, and we’re a few miles to the south of Silverstone: neither the time nor the place you’d pick to introduce yourself to a brand-new road-legal track car. But when have minor hurdles like that ever stopped us?
The Rapture is the latest road-legal track-day special from Peterborough-based racing car builder Radical. A successor for the old SR3 SL, it is ostensibly an SR3 spaceframe prototype that’s been adapted to pass road safety homologation rules not just in Europe but elsewhere in the world also. While it may be road-legal, however, it’s still primarily track-intended; the sort of car designed to be drivable to and from a circuit but not used on many other occasions – and whose existence in Radical’s showroom range allows the firm to sell cars to customers without motorsport licences in countries where you’re simply not allowed to buy a track car without one.
Around the Rapture’s FIA safety cell and all of the lightweight tubing of its chassis, then, sits plastic composite bodywork. At the front and rear are double wishbone axles with fully adjustable suspension. Further still towards the car’s extremities are expansive, angry-looking aerodynamic surfaces, with the car’s front splitter in particular having been reprofiled for greater downforce under heavy dive.
Doing the driving, meanwhile, is a longways-mounted 2.3-litre Ford Ecoboost four-pot turbo engine retuned by Radical to produce 360bhp and 320lb ft of torque, which feeds the rear wheels via a six-speed sequential paddle-shift gearbox and a Quaife limited-slip diff. This is Radical’s £90k ‘junior’ road-legal option, then – but still one with nearly 500bhp per tonne.
You don’t so much step in as hop over the Rapture's broad sidepod, and drop down into a fairly tight cockpit that substitutes a windscreen for a tiny lip of a wind deflector, and offers only four-point belts and a pretty perfunctory arrangement of secondary switchgear controls as creature comforts.
Instrumentation is via a smallish colour LCD display mounted centrally on the dashboard, and underneath that you'll find the line of buttons controlling the car's headlights and heater. Material fit and finish is pretty poor; the upper and lower extremes of our test car's fascia panel wobbled like a cardboard sandwich box, although the parts of it that supported buttons seemed well-enough secured. It would, in short, be a challenge to get as excited about this driving environment as you might the one in a Dallara Stradale. Then again, Radical owners are well used to vehicles whose value is defined squarely by what they do rather than how they look or what they are.