Motor racing is not cheap. The race-ready cousins of big super-car brands such as Porsche, Aston Martin and Ferrari will set you back upwards of half-a-million, and that’s just the start. A season actually racing in an exotic GT can easily top £1m. And don’t forget the years of climbing the ranks, either: more money, and time.
This is why car manufacturers do such good business with hardcore versions of their road-going cars, the likes of the Porsche GT3 RS, Ferrari 458 Speciale and McLaren 675LT; all perfect track-day fodder. £300,000 track-day fodder.
But when even top execs are feeling the pinch, where do you get racetrack thrills on a relative budget? Enter a supercar-wannabe brand from Poland you probably haven’t heard of: Arrinera. It was started by the Tomkiwicz brothers in 2008, after they decided Poland needed its own race-ready supercar. One mere mortals could afford.
A professor of aerodynamics was called in to design a high-downforce shape. Exotic race car components were fitted to a cost-effective chassis. Bespoke pushrod suspension was designed. The FIA GT3 spec sheet was followed closely to ensure it all fully complied. And, last year, it became the first supercar to blast up the Goodwood Festival of Speed hill.
Theoretically, it could go up against cars like the Mercedes-AMG GT3, Audi R8 LMS and McLaren 650S GT3, then go racing at Le Mans. There’s a fair bit of development to do before it’s ready for that, though: it’s barely made its race debut. However, racing driver Anthony Reid has spent the past year honing it. He almost became a Grand Prix driver with Jordan F1, but was unable to raise enough sponsorship cash. Again, motor racing is not cheap.
Now, at a chilly Silverstone, Anthony is taking me for some flat-out laps in what’s basically a racing car. The day is part of an intense programme, and they haven’t had many dry-running sessions yet. The man quick enough to get an F1 contract isn’t going to hang about.
There are two Hussarya GTs in the pits, both painted green. “We’re keen to show investors we’re not just a one-car company,” jokes infectiously exuberant competition manager Piotr Frankowski. Anthony’s already in one of them and, after jamming on a helmet, it’s my turn: yes, this is a two-seat GT3 racing car able to swallow a six-footer. It’s a bit comfier than sitting on Lewis Hamilton’s lap, that’s for sure.
Arrinera wants to make extreme GT3 cars for genteel drivers – motorsport-grade machinery that’s fast but easy to use, easy to maintain, relatively affordable and big enough to take student and race instructor together. “Building it in Poland helps us manage costs,” he says. “Basing ourselves in England helps us tap into motorsport expertise and speak with the investors who’ll help us make a road-going version.”
So right now the Hussarya is, to you or I, a trackday special, but also one that might one day become road-legal. That makes it pretty unique: only specialist sports car maker Radical offers road-race hybrids, and the Hussarya GT is rather more hypercar-like in appearance. Earlier, I’d watched it out on track. “It looks like an Aston Martin Vulcan,” I said to Frankowski. He beamed.
The interior is basic, race-spec, with knobs and switches everywhere and, when Reid fires the Corvette LS V8, wonderfully noisy. There’s certainly not going to be any chatter in this drive. Thunk! He paddleshifts into first gear. Whine! We crawl out the pits. Bang! My head slams back in the racing seat as he turns off the pitlane limiter and warp drive is engaged.
We’re taking part in a track day, so there are other ‘normal’ cars on circuit. You know, mere £300k Ferraris and Porsches. Without fail, as soon as I spot one in the distance, we’re past in an eye-blink. The speed differential is insane, both through corners and at high speed. The Arrinera’s aerodynamics keep it clamped to the ground where other cars totter. It feels epic.
Too soon, it’s over. I want more of this racing car. I can, for £255,000 all-in: less than a second-hand Ferrari. This car promises to be the exception to the rule that says motor racing is a ruinous, impossible dream. Here’s hoping it can realise its own.