Caterham Superlight R400

Even after nearly half a century, the Caterham Seven continues to send shivers down the spine of the big budget, global car giants.

Having thumped the opposition last year with the race version of the new Superlight R400, the British sportscar maker has been banned from contesting the Nurburgring 24 Hours, the German endurance classic next month.

This is not the first time Caterham has found itself on the wrong end of the decision makers.

"We were banned from production sportscar racing in the UK in the mid-80s because no-one could keep up, and now we are excluded again", explained Simon Nearn, managing director of Caterham Cars.

Last time out, the ultra-reliable lightweight two-seater not only won its class around the fearsome 13-mile Nordschleife circuit, but finished 11th overall from a list of 200 starters that included a host of supercars from BMW and Porsche.

Nearn added: "I guess it’s embarrassing for us to roll up with a car that costs a fraction of the price of the rest of the field, can be driven to and from the track and run for 24 hours without a glitch."

The David versus Goliath contest last year captured the imagination of the crowds with the Caterham only stopping to change tyres and drivers. "The Sevens reliability and endurance proved that big wallets don’t always win big races."

In the aftermath of the domestic ban twenty years ago, Caterham developed a one-make series for the Colin Chapman designed Seven. That has grown to fourteen championships in six countries making the famous little car the most raced in the world today.

The road-going version of the Nurburgring derived Superlight R400 was launched earlier this month. Priced at £29,950 on the road, the new model boasts an explosive 200bhp (the equivalent of 400bhp per tonne) and 150lbs ft of torque at 5750 rpm, making it the ideal companion for the mushrooming road-track community.

Published : 21/04/03 Author : Melanie Carter

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