First Drive: Radical’s New Track-Only Racecar Is Brutally Quick and Responsive

Radical Motorsport is a small British company that produces less than 200 vehicles per year. Yet its purpose-built racing cars are a familiar sight at motorsport country clubs across the United States. Nevada’s Spring Mountain and Arizona’s Apex Motor Club both have more than 100 Radicals owned by their members, for example, and both run their own rounds of the Radical Cup race series.

Radical’s best-seller, particularly in North America, is the SR10. Launched in 2020, the turbocharged track car has now been updated with more aggressive aero, improved cooling, and a revised setup to create the 425 hp SR10 XXR, starting at $169,990. And Robb Report has been invited to be the first publishing outlet in the world to drive it.

More from Robb Report

As I arrive at Radical’s home circuit of Donington Park, near the city of Nottingham, England, the temperature is scarcely above freezing, and icy rain is blowing sideways into the pit garages. It’s hardly an ideal introduction to a carbon-tubbed race car with no roof and no electronic driver aids. This wouldn’t happen in Arizona.

Driving the Radical SR10 XXR race car.
Driving the 425 hp Radical SR10 XXR race car at the Donington Park circuit.

After squeezing into a Radical-branded racing suit and slim-fit Sparco boots, I’m greeted by my coach for the day, Shaun Doyle. An experienced endurance racer who has competed in the European Le Mans Series and British GT Championship, Shaun will sit alongside me in the SR10 XXR. “You look like a racing driver,” he tells me as I grab a crash helmet and neck-supporting HANS device. I definitely don’t feel like one.

Surrounded by a swarm of busy mechanics, our car sports blue-and-orange Gulf Racing–style livery, plus a set of grooved wet tires instead of the usual slicks. Visually, the biggest difference between the SR10 and the SR10 XXR is the latter’s LMP-inspired central fin, but there’s also new air vents, lightweight center-lock wheels, high-intensity DRL lights and—fitted here—the optional carbon-fiber dive planes, splitter, and diffuser. Existing SR10 owners can upgrade their cars to the same spec via the XXR Evolution Pack.

The open cockpit of a Radical SR10 XXR race car.
The open-top two-seater features a yoke-style steering wheel with a central digital display and rotary manettino controls.

Beneath the Radical’s shrink-wrapped body is a spaceframe chassis with an FIA-approved safety cell and an adjustable pushrod suspension. The car’s mid-mounted 2.3-liter Ford Ecoboost engine is modified with a custom Garrett turbo, forged pistons, and a motorsport ECU, driving the rear wheels through a Hewland sequential manual transmission and a WaveTrac torque-biasing differential.

Weighing just 1,598 pounds, the SR10 XXR can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 2.4 seconds and reach a top speed of 180 mph. Just as importantly, the engine can run for 80 hours at race pace between rebuilds, which is plenty enough for a season of track days or the six-round Radical Cup.

I ride along as a passenger first so that Shaun can warm up the tires. Donington Park is a fun circuit with changing gradients, flowing complexes of corners, and plenty of run-off. However, it’s still raining steadily, and patches of standing water lurk at many of the apexes. Shaun is running wide of the racing line and working hard to stop the car from snapping into oversteer. My reflexes won’t be so sharp.

Radical Motorsport's SR10 XXR race car.
Beneath the Radical’s shrink-wrapped body is a spaceframe chassis with an FIA-approved safety cell and an adjustable pushrod suspension.

We pull back into the pit garage and swap seats. As I clamber aboard, one of Radical’s support crew wipes the soles of my boots to stop them slipping on the pedals, tightens my harness belts, and cleans my visor. This must be how it feels to be a works team driver.

The SR10’s yoke-style steering wheel looks bewildering, with a central digital display for GPS data and rotary manettino controls to adjust throttle response and other parameters. “We’ll start off in the softer settings,” says Shaun over the intercom. Probably for the best.

Soft or not, the Radical feels instantly sharp. Its steering is textured and telepathically direct, braking power is immense, and gear shifts using the paddles are brutally mechanical. The exception here is the Ford engine, which is not as highly strung as the motorcycle-derived motors in Radical’s smaller SR1 and SR3 models. Its plentiful torque (380 ft lbs at 3,900 rpm) actually makes the SR10 easier to drive than its siblings, despite being the faster car.

Driving the Radical SR10 XXR race car.
The mid-mounted 2.3-liter Ford Ecoboost engine—with a custom Garrett turbo—can run for 80 hours at race pace between rebuilds.

Inevitably, on the last lap of my first session, I get on the gas too early and pirouette onto the grass. There’s no harm done, but the drive back to the pits seems long and strangely silent. I’ll debrief with Shaun over lunch and then try again.

When we head back out, the weather has gotten worse and the track much busier, with many drivers here to shake down cars before the opening round of the Radical Cup UK. I’m constantly watching my mirrors and dodging rooster tails of spray from other cars. Despite Shaun’s calm and measured instructions, I don’t seem to have the mental bandwidth to process everything at once. I stay within track limits this time, but many of my lines feel scrappy and unsatisfying.

By the time of my third and final session, the track traffic has thinned out and, finally, the winter sun has chased off the relentless rain. Perhaps the rainbow that materializes over Donington Park is a sign, because suddenly everything seems to come together. With a drier line appearing on the asphalt, I feel confident to push the car harder, relaxing my arms, rolling off the brakes earlier, trusting in the grip from the tires and downforce from that enormous rear wing.

Driving the Radical SR10 XXR race car.
The Radical SR10 XXR can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 2.4 seconds and reach a top speed of 180 mph.

I still make mistakes, of course, but every time I apply the power too abruptly or brake too hard (there’s no ABS to prevent the wheels from locking up), I can sense the car getting unsettled. The SR10 XXR demands respect, but rewards commitment. After 35 minutes of intense concentration, with Shaun deliberately keeping quiet and letting me drive, I’m totally exhausted but equally elated.

If you want the same experience, Radical offers “arrive and drive” packages through all 12 of its North American dealers, along with race support. Or you will likely find a few examples trackside at your nearest motorsport country club. As for the rain, best to leave that off the options list.

Click here for more photos of Radical Motorsport’s SR10 XXR.

Driving Radical Motorsport's SR10 XXR track-only racer.
Driving Radical Motorsport's SR10 XXR track-only racer.

Best of Robb Report

Sign up for Robb Report's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Click here to read the full article.