The track day car is the hothouse flower of the automotive world. It exists only to pound around local tracks in the hands of semi-well heeled gearheads on the weekend. UK-based Radical Sportscars is one of the more well known of these motorized hothouse denizens, and it has big ambitions for its new RXC Turbo 500. Radical aims to make it the fastest production car ever to go around the famous Nürburgring.
If you're a car person, or a racing person or even a person that plays around with Xbox or PlayStation racing games, you know the Nürburgring. Located in Germany, it is a strip of asphalt Wagnerian in design and scope that features every kind of corner imaginable, and more than a few that even Salvador Dali couldn't dream up. If you can be quick at The 'Ring, you can be quick anywhere.
On top of that, the Nürburgring has other enticements of the sinful variety for automakers to covet, namely greed, envy and pride. Greed because this place offers speed and you always want more of it, as much as you can possibly get. Envy because you desire every last tenth of a second another car company is faster than you. Pride because, well, let's just put it this way, if you're the fastest car in your class at the Nürburgring, the whole world will know about it.
Which brings us to a little, specialty car manufacturer called Radical. Sure, it only turns out a dozen or so machines a quarter, and it poses no danger, financially speaking, to the automotive big boys. But Radical most definitely wants to be known as a contender for the baddest of bad asses in the track day realm. And the car it is rolling out at this year's Geneva show (which is the company's first appearance at the show) is the hammer Radical intends to drive that point home.
Officially dubbed the Radical RXC Turbo 500, it is a 530 bhp variant of the company's road-going coupe, which tips the scales at a flyweight 920 kg (2,028 lb). The RXC Turbo 500 will no doubt weigh less, so we'll just pause for a minute while you consider the performance possibility of 530 horsepower saddled with less than 900 kg.
Radical has been working on developing this version of the RXC Turbo 500 for five years. It has tweaked the engine management software and adjusted the forced induction technology so the mill ensconced amidships cranks out over 530 bhp at 6,100 rpm and an absurd 481 lb-ft of torque at 5,000 rpm. The plant starts off life as a Ford EcoBoost, but by the time Radical is through with it, it seems like a piece of kit from the starship Enterprise.
There are not one, but two high-performance water-cooled Garrett GT28 turbochargers fitted with steel ball bearing cartridges, and specially designed anti-surge compressor housings. Note, that is not an air-to-water intercooler, Radical is using water to cool the turbos themselves. There are new custom-designed heat shields fitted to reduce engine bay temperatures, because obviously this thing is running really close to the edge of thermal stability (it's probably close to melting most of the time).
The fuel and intake system has been completely reworked, with a re-machined and fluid-optimized intake manifold upgraded to contain the six high-performance Ford fuel injectors. Radical did this because the fuel injection system is not a "single go" arrangement, but rather it is a "staged" system with secondary port injection to improve fuel atomization at higher engine speeds with increased fuel flow rates. There is also a fuel rail upgrade with additional twinned fuel lines. Naturally, Radical has upgraded the race proven fuel regulator.
Downstream of all this compressing and exploding, Radical has installed new high-flow exhaust manifolds calculated to enhance the exhaust gas flow rate. This will also help to up the maximum turbine speeds, reduced spool time and improving top end performance. Aft of that there is a large-diameter exhaust system about the span of a Paris sewer.
Right, so there are lots of shiny new bits and pieces in the engine bay, what does that all add up to? Well, the RXC blasts from 0-100 mph (160 km/h) in 6.8 seconds, and mid-range acceleration from 40-80 mph (64-129 km/h) is a class-leading 3.0 seconds. It's that rolling acceleration which is going to be the big factor. At The 'Ring there are only a few corners where you are effectively accelerating from a near dead stop. Conversely, there seems to be thousands of corners (in total, the track has over 170 corners) where you are accelerating away from fairly low speeds, say 60 to 80 mph (97 to 129 km/h), and hope to end up topping out on the following straight stretch well into the triple digits.
This strategy of not dropping too much speed and pouring on as much power as you can for as long as you can is what works at the Nurburgring. And Radical’s trademark lightweight, high-stiffness chassis technology and advanced Le Mans-honed aerodynamics, coupled with an almighty powerful engine shows why it has a very good shot at upping its own record.
That's right. Radical is the existing record holder at The 'Ring for current production cars. The company’s SR8 LM open sportscar has held the record since 2005, first with a 6 minute 55 second lap, which it then chopped down to 6 minutes 48 seconds in 2009 with Michael Vergers behind the wheel. It will attempt to beat its own record once again in August.
We know what you're thinking: "If Radical already own the record, why is it doing this?"
Simple: Greed, envy and pride. Lots and lots of pride.