IOTD: Caterham presses fast-forward with the 275bhp Superlight R600

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After the race series for the SP/300.R was canned due to poor sales and a general lack of interest, Caterham chose to think laterally by fitting the 2-litre Ford Duratec power plant in the tried and tested Seven. Welcome to the Superlight R600 – like the hugely successful R300, but.. twice as much fun.

However my mind turned to Ansar Ali, Caterham’s former CEO, when I first heard of the R600.

You see, Ansar knew that following such a well-trodden path was a fool’s errand, the Seven has had its day and whilst it will (rightly) be around for a long time to come, Caterham as a company needs to’ move on.

But Ansar found that he simply could not work with Tony Fernandes, the man he persuaded to buy the Dartford car maker in late 2010. Ansar created a plan to take Caterham forward, but Fernandes vetoed this, wishing instead to develop affordable everyday cars for the Asian markets.

Fernandes also showed a complete lack of interest in the SP/300.R, so its fate was sealed and the R600 is what’s left to show for all their efforts.

Of course the R600 is still a hugely exciting prospect. It’s the first ever Seven to feature forced induction, delivering a full 100bhp more than the 175bhp R300, and with 200lb-ft of torque provides a 13% increase on the current road-going Superlight R500. In fact it’s like an SP/300.R without all the downforce, which should prove a lively bundle to control, especially when there are 16 others dicing for the same corner.

The race package includes a six-speed, sequential gearbox, Titan limited-slip differential and Avon radial slicks or wets, but R300 owners will be offered a package to upgrade their cars to the full R600 spec.

The R600 race car will cost £44,995 as a standalone car, or approximately £16,000 as an upgrade package for the current Superlight R300 race car.

Caterham released a series of stunning images of the R600 taken at Castle Combe circuit, so we thought you might like the choice of four to download. Just click on the buttons below and save them to your desktop.

Caterham R600 downloads

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(Click to download in size 1920 x 1275 px)

Images: Caterham Cars.

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  • The images are beautiful. I think it’s a shame that Caterham are focussing on small affordable cards. Relatively unknown brands like this generally churn out beautiful racing cars. The r600 is still massively exciting.

    • Jess, you’re right to say the R600 is exciting, although in truth we believe it’s a move to shore up flagging interest in top-flight Caterham racing. More power will hopefully attract new drivers into the series, for the chance to show their mettle.

      I also have reason to believe that all is not well at Caterham. Former CEO, Ansar Ali, the man who brokered the acquisition of Caterham by Tony Fernandes ‘did not’ leave because he suddenly wished to “spend more time with his family..”

      Fernandes wants Caterham to pay its own way in F1, and that’s not going to happen by selling more Sevens.

      • I don’t think Caterham will be able to pay its own way in F1 for a while.

        I think Fernandes has done good things for the business but not necessarily the brand. I don’t know much about the politics within the company, though.

        • What Fernandes has done for the business so far is to raise the profile of the brand and appoint several talented people, however the business as a commercial platform still needs a lot of work, and while the development team are working on a new range of cars, they’re are some pressing questions about what ‘type’ of cars those will be and who their target customer is.

          We’re sitting on a feature that will explain the background to this story, but are waiting for the right time. We should also sit down with Caterham and capture their views on the situation.