Amazing to hear that yet another emerging sports car maker is looking to prove the worth of its latest offering by lapping the Nurburgring Nordschleife in mind-altering, pant-wetting, world record time.
Radical’s production car record – 6min 55sec, set in 2005 by Michael Vergers in a road-legal SR8 – is now under threat from the Americans at Devon Motor Works. They’ve hired Justin Bell to try to drive the 650bhp lightweight GTX supercar faster than anything with number plates has ever gone before.
Little do they know, they’ll probably have to go faster than 6min 54sec to nick it. That’s because Radical is heading back to the Eifel mountains only next week, armed with a car with better aero and more power than the 2005 SR8. And, weather permitting, they expect to come home with another new record.
Which is all very well – but does it mean anything? At all? To anyone?
Remember all the unseemly squabbling that ensued between Porsche and Nissan when the Nissan GT-R went faster than the 911 GT2? There were allegations of cheating, and use of non-road-legal tyres and all sorts. All that name-calling and finger-pointing has got to have a negative effect on any company’s public image. And for what: claim to some very selective bragging rights that may or may not really sell a sports car?
An old colleague at Autocar once memorably ventured that the Nurburgring would, before long, have a regrettable effect on the chassis tuning of performance cars. That sports cars, hot hatchbacks and even vaguely sporty saloons would become over-sprung, over-damped and vehemently resistant to roll in order to make them a little bit quicker around that 13-mile circuit of Tarmac – and hang any loss in everyday, any-road suitability.
Ironically enough, that former colleague’s name features twice in the ‘Drivers’ column on Wikipedia’s ‘Nurburgring lap times’ page. But for what it’s worth, I think his prediction’s already coming true.
One day, I’m sure somebody will make a car that you can buy that’ll go faster than Stefan Bellof’s 1983 qualifying time (it’s 6min 11sec in a Porsche 956, as if you didn’t know).
My only hope is that, when they do, the crazy fog will lift from the brains of those industry personnel obsessed with the place, and they’ll all realise that there are more important tests of a performance car than how much speed it can carry through the Wippermann curve.