What's it like?
Hugely fast, but also confusing. Due to some transmission problems with the finished TSR-S, our driving impressions came from two cars. First was a yellow prototype with a massive rollcage and a dashboard made from bare metal studded with rocker switches, and then the finished blue road-spec car after it had been judged fit enough for a limited number of laps. Despite sharing suspension settings and identical spec Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres, the two felt markedly different on track.
The prototype was short on finesse thanks to its huge roll cage, total absence of ventilation and, it seemed, soundproofing – its engine was so noisy it had broken Spa's decibel limit at an event that also included an LMP2 car. The need for discretion meant only brief chances to experience the full force of the mighty V8, which is based on a GM LSX block but has a milled-from-billet crankshaft and forged pistons. Performance felt as mighty as the numbers suggest, the TSR-S capable of generating genuinely uncomfortable longitudinal G-loadings with a rate of acceleration that grows all the way to the car's 7700rpm limiter. The carbon-ceramic brakes are similarly good - even my bravest-feeling braking points turned out to be grossly pessimistic - and the sequential 'box shifted up and down with brutal immediacy.
The steering was less good, with limited communication, and the car suffered from surprising levels of understeer in slower corners. That engendered little of the faith required to push harder in something so fast, and there was no real sense of the tilting rear wing having an effect on cornering, either.
However, the production-spec blue car felt vastly better. A pep-talk with Vollertsen undoubtedly helped, he explained that the wing comes into its own when the car is on the edge of adhesion, turning up to 30 percent of the aerodynamic downforce into a force vector that moves effort to the less loaded inside rear wheel and counters body roll. The car also felt friendlier and easier to drive close to its limits, with much more dependable steering and a far more accurate front end.
My increased trust encouraged greater speed, and gave me enough faith to accelerate the TSR-S into mild oversteer, something that proved to be easy even in Spa's quicker turns. Fighting the urge to back off revealed the Zenvo doesn't break into the big slide that feels inevitable, rather settling into what could be termed a near-drift as the rear wing and stability control system work together to keep the car under control. The result is a car that feels much less scary than it probably should do, although it didn't take long for hard cornering to heat the rear tyres to the point where grip started to tail off.