Caterham-Lola SP/300R (2012) first official pictures

Published: 13 January 2011

This is the new Caterham-Lola SP/300R, just unveiled at the 2011 Autosport show. The SP/300R is the first sports prototype in Caterham’s history, and the result of a tie-up between Caterham Cars and British racing and engineering firm Lola. The Caterham-Lola SP/300R has been primarily designed for a new one-make race series that will start in 2012, and as a trackday tool for the rich. A road-going version of the Caterham-Lola SP/300R is also under consideration.

The Caterham-Lola SP/300R, huh? So 300bhp per tonne?

Nope: 300bhp. As with all of Caterham’s current cars, the SP/300R sticks with Ford power, and uses a new supercharged version of Ford’s 2.0 Duratec four-cylinder engine – Caterham chose a supercharger over a turbocharger to ensure a linear power delivery.

In a car that will tip the scales at under 600kg, 300bhp means at least 500bhp/tonne. It’s enough for 0-60mph in around 2.5 seconds, and the SP/300R has been geared to hit 170mph on Spa’s Kemmel Straight. There’s a ‘push-to-pass’ function too, to make sure there’s lots of overtaking action in the races, or to make sure you don’t get stuck behind anyone at your local trackday.

Of course the SP/300R is rear-wheel drive, and there’s a LSD, plus a paddle-shift sequential gearbox from Hewland. And although the standard engine is a Ford unit, the SP/300R has been designed to accept other powerplants.

What input has Lola had on the Caterham-Lola SP/300R?

Lola has been in charge of the design, with the whole process carried out using the company’s state-of-the-art CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) technology. The body is primarily designed for downforce and balance, with a flat underbody and the usual array of wings and splitters, but there are Caterham styling additions, including the little Seven-aping radiator grille beneath the raised nose. Not heard of Lola? Well they’re the team who helped design Aston Martin’s LMP1 race cars.

The core of the SP/300R is an aluminium tub, the engine is mid-mounted, and coupled to a stress-bearing rear axle. The front and rear suspension are double wishbones, and the design of rear axle closely mimics that of Lola’s Formula 3 racers. The wheels and tyres are also taken from the British F3 series. There’s a full set of safety gear too, including an FIA-approved roll cage, a six-point harness, fire extinguisher and electrical cut-off switches.

The inaugural SP/300R race series will commence in 2012, and will top Caterham’s motorsport tree, above the Superlight R300 and entry-level Academy series. Just 25 Caterham-Lola SP/300R will be built each year, and prices start at £60k, plus tax – call in £72,000 for UK customers.

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By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy