Caterham Cars has opened an exciting new chapter in its 50-year history with the release of its first ever sports prototype racing car for a new one-make series and the trackday community.
Unveiled at the Autosport International Show (Birmingham, UK), the Caterham-Lola SP/300.R is a major new addition to sit alongside the legendary Caterham Seven, yet remains true to its lightweight, minimalist DNA to deliver all the thrills of driving a fast, but confidence-inspiring, sportscar.
Created in partnership with another iconic British engineering brand, Lola Cars, the aesthetically-sensitive sports prototype will also feature the debut of Caterham Motorsport's new supercharged version of the Ford Duratec power plant, expected to produce around 300bhp.
Only 25 Caterham SP/300.Rs will be manufactured each year, allowing Caterham to focus on enhancing the build quality of every vehicle and maximising its renowned one-to-one customer service.
Bearing subtle design cues from the Seven, the first new model from Caterham since the 21 road car reproduces the Company's core motorsport values of affordability, reliability and accessibility.
The beating heart of the Caterham-Lola SP/300.R will be a Caterham-tuned, supercharged version of Ford's 2.0L Duratec unit, which will produce 300bhp.
Caterham's engineers have chosen the supercharged Duratec with its drivers in mind. As with all Caterham products, the driving experience is at the core of the Caterham SP/300.R's design.
The supercharged induction module has therefore been chosen for its linear torque delivery across the entire engine speed range, which is perfectly-matched to the lightweight architecture of the car.
With the styling aerodynamically, rather than aesthetically led, the Caterham-Lola SP/300.R has been designed using Lola's state-of-the-art CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) technology, with input and critique from Caterham.
The basic chassis is an aluminium tub with a longitudinally mid-mounted engine, coupled to a stress-bearing rear transaxle. A forward splitter and large rear wing reduce lift, while a flat underbody maximises ground effect benefits.
A broad aero platform generates optimal downforce and balance, while the aerodynamic performance is fine-tuned by ducts and dive-planes. The Caterham-Lola SP/300.R bodywork also features an F1-style raised nose section and sectioned panels, which will help reduce repair costs, ease maintenance and, importantly, allow single-handed removal of body panels track-side.
The pairing of Lola's world-beating aerodynamic package with the Ford engine will produce a car that will easily meet the desires of Caterham customers, whether they are seeking their first serious step into sports prototype racing or the ultimate trackday machine.
The supercharged Duratec's 300bhp will propel the sub-600kg car from 0-60mph in around 2.5 seconds, translating into 500bhp-per-tonne, excluding the driver.
The gearing of the car has been selected to reach maximum rpm in top gear at the end of Spa-Francorchamps circuit's Kemmel Straight, chosen as it is one of the more frequently-visited race and trackday venues. Top speed will be around 170mph.
Naturally, the Caterham-Lola SP/300.R has been built to comply with MSA safety regulations. The main component of the safety system is a roll cage, which has been designed specifically for the car and incorporated into the styling schemes.
The chassis has also been designed as a race chassis with the requisite crash structures. Other components include the six-point harness, fire extinguisher, cut-off switch and so on.
The Caterham-Lola SP/300.R is priced at £60,000, excluding local taxes.Published 13 January 2011