The term ‘race car for the road’ has always been a bit of an oxymoron, at least for me. While it does not take long to understand why manufacturers make such cars, it is rather odd to know that they intend to make them at all. People, especially men, like to tell themselves that they are better drivers.
In order to satisfy their ego, manufacturers make products that they claim will be able to do blisteringly quick laps around race tracks…err, around the world. That is the sole reason for cars like the McLaren Senna exist.
But, it is a tricky job this, making a car that works on the road and on the track. I say this because, to make a car work on the road, one has to make compromises. Compromises in the suspension, steering geometry, camber, tow, brake bias, traction, downforce and drag, among others, will be made in order to enable a car to be user-friendly.
Road cars, no matter how hardcore they are, need to have air-conditioning, sound deadening, comforting ride and most importantly, have to look the part. Race cars do not have to care about any of that. They do not even have to look nice. All that matters is that they scorch the track and set unbeatable lap times. That is the reason why they have canards and big wings, and many other gizmos.
Recently, a McLaren Senna was put to test against a McLaren GT3 cup race car. The test took place because the British automaker kept telling its customers that the Senna was as quick as that car and justified the price tag and garish looks. A few timed laps showed the reality though, the near million pound road-racer was several seconds slower than the actual race car. This was despite the fact that the race car had less power.
You want to know why? It weighed less and that is my point. One cannot make a race car for the road, and anyway, why would one want such a thing? If I was to drive a race car, I would drive it on the race track. It is far too fragile and too costly to be used normally. Such cars are too wide, hard to see out of and are so low to the ground that they need axle lifters to go over a speed bump and yet not low enough to provide race car-level downforce.
But it is the pathetic state of human mind that plays these tricks and manufacturers, deem it fit to exploit weak minds. It is a bit like makers of snacks posting advertisements repeatedly on the tele to capture young minds. The children look at the colourful product and try it out, not bothering to think if it is necessary or not. It is the same weakness that gets exploited in adults. They are provided a car that looks like a race car but is not one.
But I understand that is how business works. But what I do not understand is why manufacturers do that and still bang on about work ethics. If they are truthful, what they should say is that they have made a car that would help customers experience something to the tune of 50 per cent of what a real track weapon can offer, so that customers can then go and buy the real deal and not get intimidated by it.
That is what gets my goat because I have profound respect over McLaren, I just wish they made the best road-going supercars and stuck with it. Making pseudo-racers can be left behind. Or, they could, like Aston Martin, make a track-only car. Remember the P1 GTR anyone?
Coming to the people who buy such cars eventhough it costs crazy amounts of money, I have one question for them. Why would you people buy such a car when the speed limits are ridiculously low? They are not as effective on the track and if you want a fast road car, then a sportscar would do the trick.
If you are really after speed, then at least you could buy an Ariel Atom or a Caterham 7 620r or a BAC Mono that will surely give more thrills on the road and cost one-tenth of the cost. But the way human minds work is tricky and I do not have the intellect to reach the bottom of it. But what I can say is that as long as such people are willing to needlessly spend money on their cars, manufacturers will continue to exploit them. As far as I am concerned, if I hit the track, I would have a track car and if I am on the road and I am filthy rich, I would have the Rolls Royce Wraith or a Bentley Continental GT, thank you.