Just after the Autocar visit, testing of the Rp1 began in earnest. Whilst the car had a series of rolling-road and shakedown tests in the days before Goodwood, the Rp1 still needed to have its first full track test. As the core Elemental team is made up of a group of engineers and designers, the actual driving of the car required some additional talent.
Enter our very own “tame racing driver”: David Pittard. David is one of those annoyingly young, very clever, enthusiastic, ever cheerful people who also happens to be rather handy behind the wheel of a car. Actually, he’s a very good driver: David is currently battling for honours in the Ginetta GT Supercup (with a couple of race wins this season too) as well as occasionally testing F3 cars and, having just completed a degree in Engineering, is the ideal person to test the Rp1.
Late July found us in deepest rural Hertfordshire on a former airfield that is now a short loop racing circuit/drift track and a 1km straight-line test area. In other words it’s an ideal place to test the car.
When I arrived David was already doing initial laps of the circuit with Ian riding in the car passenger keeping an eye on the engine temperatures. The Rp1 was initially limited to just 3000rpm rev limit and David was under instructions to go easy in the initial sessions – but from the trackside it already looked rapid and composed through the corners. John, our chassis design supremo cast a critical eye over proceedings, looking carefully at the wheel and suspension movement as the car went through the final corner and short S bend.
With the first full ten laps completed the team re-checked the car, David was debriefed and gave his feedback. “It’s Mega! The engine sounds like a Turbine!” were his words as jumped from the car.
As the day continued the rev limits were gradually raised, a few niggling issues checked over and resolved, and more mileage was put on the car.
I got a couple of chances to ride shotgun with David and I can cheerfully say that both he, and the Rp1 are very fast indeed. The Rp1’s low weight and high power allied to the chassis and the Caparo brakes mean that speed both into, and out of corners, is very good indeed. The brakes and grip particularly impressed me, as a very fast run by David into a tight 90 degree right hand corner proved!
At the end of the day I finally got a chance to drive the car. Now, I do need to admit here that the only things I have ever driven on a track are Go-Karts. I have zero experience of high performance track cars so Ian, it must be said with some trepidation, rode shotgun with me.
With my limited experience I can say the following: yes, it’s very fast; my initial concerns about lacking such creature comforts as power steering don’t seem to matter; the steering felt light; and the handling intuitive. It felt, to use an old sports car cliché, just like a Go-Kart. However, its much more secure and comfortable, but is nonetheless low, light, nimble and very fast.
In spite of being an open top car with small racing screens instead of a full windscreen, you can drive it without wearing a helmet and carry out a reasonable conversation with your passenger as well. That is, providing you are not going too fast!
To be honest I went nowhere near the limits of the car as David had gone earlier in the day. I had decided that with my very limited track driving experience and the fact that I know exactly how much blood, sweat and tears has gone into the car, discretion really was the better part of valour.
We are continuing to develop and refine XP2 over the next few months but the testing is validating the design and the showing us the true performance potential of the Elemental Rp1.
For now I just agree with David: Its Mega!When the wind blows: MIRA testing day Meet the press