Could this be the quickest long-termer CAR has ever run? In all of this magazine’s very many years there’s surely been none lower, none lighter and none capable of higher G forces than this one – the Radical SR1.
For 2016, we welcomed a full-on racing car to the fleet as CAR magazine campaigned in the Radical SR1 Cup championship, with staff writer James Taylor at the wheel – and the season went rather well!
Read James’s season diary in full here, with the most recent reports, videos and updates added from the top
Here’s a sentence I didn’t dare believe I’d be writing when our Radical adventure began: I am officially the 2016 SR1 Cup champion. Crikey.
After a season with eight races, three poles, two wins and one lap record, CAR’s SR1 and I crossed the Snetterton finish line under a hazy sunset with enough points banked to take the 2016 title.
I owe a huge debt of thanks to all at Radical, and to all of the SR1 competitors, who were incredibly welcoming, friendly and supportive. The SR1 Cup paddock is a very nice place to be.
This has been an atypical long-term review, of course, but the acid test remains the same: would I spend my own money (if I had it) on the SR1 Cup, or recommend that someone else should? Oh, without a doubt. A Porsche 911 or a Radical SR1/trailer/nice tow car combo? No contest. As I’ve been telling anyone who’ll listen, the SR1 is the most fun thing I’ve ever driven, and to race one over a full season has been a rare privilege indelibly scribed into my memory banks.
Although the £45,000 package for a new SR1 in 2016 includes a racesuit, licence test, race entries and two (extremely helpful) pre-season training days, you’d need extra for further testing, and the majority of competitors budget for teams to run them rather than maintain the car themselves. I was fortunate to be run by the Radical UK Works Team, who also transported the car for me. Were the theoretical running costs in the logbook below to be completely representative of my season, they’d also include fees for new rear tyres halfway through the season (we raced on the same fronts all year, and tested on old tyres), two trackdays, four MSVR testdays and numerous auxiliary maintenance costs.
Taking on a full season is no small commitment then, but for such a high-quality, high-speed championship (the fastest novice championship in the UK), the SR1 Cup really does demand as little time and money from competitors as is practically possible. If you’re thinking about trying an SR1, you must do it.
Its tail-happy handling is hugely entertaining, and also a challenge to control neatly over a race distance. That same liveliness that’s so captivating at first eventually becomes a frustration, and by season’s end you’ll likely find yourself craving a bit less oversteer and even higher cornering speeds. At which point Radical, naturally, might point you towards the next rung on its racing ladder, the SR1’s bigger, grippier SR3 sibling.
Meanwhile, I’m still trying to work out whether this season was real, or just another racing daydream: a podium in every race and, unexpectedly, the first driver to win the SR1 Cup in their first season since the championship’s inaugural year in 2013. It’s been an unforgettable experience, tempered only by the realisation that life is about to feel very empty indeed.