Motoring News

Caterham’s new lightweight SP/300.R Exposed

A superlight track star with supercar performance.

At the 2011 Autosport International Show in Birmingham, UK, Caterham unveiled their newest addition – the Caterham SP/300.R. Developed in partnership with Lola Cars, the new SP/300.R takes lightweight performance and minimalistic construction to the next level while staying true to the company’s values of affordability, reliability, and accessibility.

“Motorsport is not only part of the history of Caterham, it’s been the lifeblood running through the character of our vehicles – race cars for the road,” explains Ansar Ali, managing director of Caterham Cars. “Today, racing is not only the heartbeat of the business, it’s an intrinsic part of our fabric both here and abroad and the SP/300.R represents the next logical step in the development of our product offering.”

For the new model Caterham teamed up with Lola Cars, the renowned British racecar engineering company, as a technical design consultant. The goal of designing the SP/300.R was to create a racecar that was aerodynamically efficient and provided optimal downforce at high speeds. To achieve this, Lola Cars used their modern CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) technology with input being provided by Caterham engineers. The basis of the racecar is a lightweight aluminum tub with a longitudinally mid-mounted engine, a rear transaxle, and smooth underbody, allowing engineers to keep the overall vehicle weight at just 1,199 lbs. The front wears a large splitter while the rear is fitted with a large wing to produce a massive 990 lbs. of downforce at 155 mph. The aerodynamics are rounded off with ducts and dive planes. Design cues from the legendary Caterham Seven are also included with the characteristic grille shape being carried over.

The SP/300.R is fitted with a full race suspension, lightweight wheels, and tires that claw the pavement. The entire suspension is adjustable to allow for track-specific setups and custom wheel and tire fitments. The front and rear utilize dual wishbones with pushrod dampers, with the rear suspension geometry being borrowed from the Lola Formula 3 and World Junior racecars. Caterham’s tire partner, Cooper Avon Tires, has developed bespoke Formula 3 tires for the SP/300.R. The 180-mm wide front and 250-mm rear tires are fitted to 9 x 13 front, 10.5 x 13 rear ATS, Speedline, or OZ center-lock Formula 3 wheels to handle the engine’s power. To bring the lightweight racer to a halt, the SP/300.R uses AP Racing brakes with an adjustable pedal box.

Powering the SP/300.R is a Caterham-tuned Ford Duratec engine. The engine was chosen for its proven reliability, cost, and performance; although owners can choose to adapt the platform to accomodate other engines. In order to achieve a broad torque curve, Caterham has chosen to fit a Rotrex supercharger with charge air cooling, pushing output to 300 horsepower and 214 lb-ft. at 7,500 RPM. The 2.0-liter engine is mated to a durable six-speed Hewland semi-automatic FTR transmission with Shiftec paddle shift system. In addition, Caterham has partnered with Pectel to develop a “push-to-pass” performance boost and data logging system for drivers.

The SP/300.R’s performance is exemplary and reflects the superb aerodynamic design and lightweight chassis. Preliminary figures from Caterham show the SP/300.R reaching 60 mph in just 2.8 seconds and hitting a top speed of 180 mph.

Caterham plans to introduce a production version of the SP/300.R to the market in time for a 2012 one-make championship. The SP/300.R will be available for £60,000 (+/- 95,000 USD) minus taxes, sticking to the company’s principal of affordability. Only 25 cars will be built each year in order to provide the utmost in build quality and one-on-one customer service. Details on the one-make series have not been finalized by Caterham Motorsport, but the series will be featured mainly on UK-circuits with the possibility for an outside race.

Caterham SP/300.R:

Type: Ford Duratec
Displacement: 2.0-liters (1,999 cc)
Number of Cylinders: Inline-4
Aspiration: Rotrex Supercharger
Lubrication: Dry-sump
Maximum Horsepower: 300 at 7,500 RPM
Maximum Torque: 214 at 7,500 RPM

Type: Six-speed Hewland semi-automatic FTR transmission with Shiftec paddle shift
Drive: Rear-wheel
Differential: Limited-slip
Clutch: Dual-plate sintered

Acceleration 0-60 mph: 2.8 seconds
Top Speed: 180 mph (approx.)

Wheels, Tires, Suspension:
Wheels: ATS, OZ, or Speedline center-lock Formula 3
Front Wheels: 9 x 13
Rear Wheels: 10.5 x 13
Tires: Cooper Formula 3 bespoke
Suspension: Pushrod activated coil-over adjustable spring dampers with adjustable F/R anti-roll bars
Brakes: AP Racing system with adjustable pedal box

Weight: 1199 lbs.
Downforce: 990 lbs. at 155 mph
-Lola-developed aluminum honeycomb monocoque chassis
-Lola-developed aero package
-Adjustable carbon rear wing
-Composite front splitter
-Composite rear diffuser
-Aero-optimized dive planes
-Three-stage downforce configuration
-Quick lifting onboard air jack system
-Left or right-hand drive
-Schroth six-point harnesses
-MSA specification twin roll over protection hoops
-MSA specification front crash structure
-FIA approved fuel cell with external filling point



[Source: Caterham]

What racetrack would you pick to drive the new Caterham SP/300.R on? Leave a comment and let us know!


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