So what actually happened when we let this most bizarre pair of machines, the Noble M600 sports car and Skoda Fabia S2000 rally car, loose across the same piece of Tarmac, which happened to be the half-mile-long ‘snake’ at Chobham test track?
To begin with – much to my surprise and delight – the Noble M600 was undisputed king. I say surprise because despite the M600 boasting 650bhp to the Skoda Fabia S2000’s 265bhp, all your instincts tell you that a 1200kg, four-wheel drive rally car should walk all over any road car, even one as rapid as the M600.
But no, for the first few practice runs we filmed, me behind driving the Noble, budding IRC star Robert Barrable pedaling the Skoda, the M600 was very obviously the quicker of the two. In the acceleration zones I could just sit and wait, and then go; and through the corners the Noble could generate more grip, everywhere. It turned in better (much better) and was basically held up by the Fabia into and out of each apex.
Which was weird because everyone present, even the amiable boss of Noble, Pete Boutwood, who’d turned up in the M600 personally, expected the opposite to be the case.
But there were two key factors to consider. One, although Barrable is a star in the making, he didn’t have a clue which way the road went to begin with, whereas I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve punted cars through The Snake over the years. Two, after several practice runs the Fabia’s front tyres were well past their best. At one point, in fact, it left the road and went for an unplanned sojourn into the woods, so badly was it suffering from understeer.