My Radical ride of a lifetime in Batangas with Radical Cars Philippines

February 27, 2020

I’ve said this a few times before in some of my past feature articles. Motorsports has always been my biggest passion as a car enthusiast. But given my congenital (in-born) partial visual disability, I’m really not qualified to be a racing driver. I’ve accepted this as fact.

That said, there’s still a gift I can take from this reality, and that gift is my surviving left eye which enables me to shoot photos. And I can say I’ve put this gift to good use because as a photographer, I can still experience the excitement of motor racing, only that it all happens behind the lens.

One such experience was that of the recent invitation I’ve accepted on behalf of And that was to cover the testing day of Radical Cars Philippines. It happened last February 20, 2020 at the 3.7 Km long Batangas Racing Circuit (BRC) in Rosario, Batangas.

But what’s Radical, and why is it here in the Philippines today?

To answer that question, let’s have an overview.

Radical is a UK-based FIA (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile) certified and accredited race car manufacturer, which was founded in 1997 by racing drivers and engineers Mick Hyde and Phil Abbott. Its specialty is the manufacturing of 2-seat open cockpit machines for serious professional racing drivers. Aside from its racecar models, it also makes road cars inspired from its racing machines. This is for car enthusiasts who can afford and would want to experience the Radical brand of unique cars out on the open road.

Of note, its fleet includes such popular models as the SR1, the SR3, and the SR8, all of which come with 6-speed Formula One style paddle shift gearbox and FIA-approved safety roll cage. Highlighting the SR1 and SR3, these run with a potent RPE 4-cylinder Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle engine, available in increasing levels of displacement and tuning depending on the model. The SR8, on the other hand, uses two Hayabusa 1340 engine heads, fused to a bespoke block, thus forming a V8 motor.

The SR1 makes 185 hp out of the ‘Busa 1340cc engine, and is Radical’s frontline model to let people in to the professional racing world. It can sprint from 0-60 mph in 3.5 secs with a top speed of 222 km/h. On the other hand, the SR3 uses a 1500cc motor and is able to squeeze out 229 hp from it. This translates to 0-60 mph acceleration of just 3.1 secs and a maximum speed of 237 km/h.

Then there’s the SR8, the most extreme Radical. Running with a V8, it delivers 417 horses. It zooms past 0-60 mph in just 2.8 secs, ultimately reaching a maximum speed of 278 km/h.

Finally, another of Radical’s highlight models is the Rapture, a road-legal racecar. It’s powered by a turbo 2.3L Ford EcoBoost engine that’s rated at 365 hp. It zooms from 0-60 mph in 3 seconds, with a max speed reaching 266 km/h.

Some of Radical’s notable milestones include its Le Mans debut in 2006 with its SR9 LMP2 challenger and setting a 2012 Nurburgring Nordshliefe lap record (6 minutes and 48.28 seconds) with the SR8 that lasted for 8 years. It also celebrated its 21st year anniversary in 2018. But by far the most notable achievement it has on its resume to date is its efforts to spread motor racing in the world, and the Philippines is proudly one of those countries.

Enter Radical Cars Philippines (Radical Cars PH). Radical Cars PH started making buzz in 2019, all in due thanks to the efforts of its CEO, Ricky Galang. According to Ricky, Radical Cars PH was born out of his desire to find cheaper and more racer-focused ways of motorsports for those who’ve been itching to go all out and compete using their high-priced sports cars.

He said that instead of modifying those privately-owned expensive sports cars with even more expensive parts, why not buy a purpose-built racecar that’s safer (FIA Certified), more engaging, and more fun-to-drive. This, in turn, would save the value of the private sports cars, prevent them from getting damaged on track, all because of feeding the need for speed.

For its debut, Radical Cars PH is offering only the SR1 with a price that’s to be discussed upon application. But Ricky added that they’re reserving the SR3 on a by-order basis to anyone who is interested in mastering an even wilder beast on track.

Today, Radical Cars PH is on a roll, pushing to promote its brand to the local racing community. One of these efforts is its regular track testing days in Batangas (the BRC) and in Pampanga (the 4.2 Km long Clark International Speedway or CIS). As earlier said, I was tasked to cover one of these testing events.

My Radical time well spent

Now, let me share you my experience as best I can as a photographer and media guest. Radical Cars PH fielded three units of the SR1 in yellow, white, and blue paintworks. Although yellow was the brand’s main color theme, I personally loved the blue car. And it so happened that blue is my most favourite color, hence why it has the most number of photos here. It is THE best SR1 there... for me.

From all angles, the SR1 Just looks stunning in front of and behind the lens. It’s got an aggressively-styled front end, a sexy profile, and a mean-looking back end, complete with a huge wing for aerodynamic stability. One thing worth noting is that the SR1 still has properly working tail lights and front daytime running lights, an important feature when racing in poor visibility conditions.

I was surprised when I saw the car in person because online (photos and videos), it kind of looks rather big for a lightweight machine that tips the scales at 490 kilos. In reality, it was compact in appearance, not the uber-wide, hulking thing the online materials made me believe.

Per the spec sheet, it measures 3,860mm in length, 1,560mm in width, and 1,020mm in height. In perspective (not necessarily comparing apples to oranges as the SR1 is still on a league of its own as a full-on racecar), it’s 565mm shorter and 170mm slimmer than the latest Toyota Vios subcompact sedan. It’s even 455mm less vs. the Vios in height.

Some may ask if how the Radical SR1 compares to the Formula V1 spec racecar being run locally in another racing series. While the V1’s technical dimensions are kept undisclosed, having seen it so many times in person, the SR1 and the V1 are very close in size comparison. At a glance though, I can tell that the V1 is a tad slimmer than the Radical SR1 as it only has a single seat, and its body isn’t too wide as compared to the SR1. Do note that I may come off short about this observations.

In action, it tackles corners like a proper racecar should – like a boss. I gotta admit I was having a great time clicking away in the sidelines as the three SR1s zoom by. I’ve experienced shooting motorsports events over the last three years since boarding, but shooting the SR1 on a testing day, is a kind of teaser for me on what to expect when it goes full beast mode on a proper race. My panning skills with my 55-250mm zoom lens just couldn’t keep up with its speed. I know my camera and lens can do it. But I couldn't... for now.

This made me realize that I still have a lot to master in motorsports photography if I really want to be the best I can be in it.

As for the aural experience, the SR1 delivers a deep and strong yet smooth sound. I’m no technical car geek, but from what I can tell, its ‘Busa engine must’ve been tuned in such a way that its cylinders and belts all sync well, producing that commanding sound.

I was expecting that when pushed to the limits, it would scream like an out-of-control action movie character atop a mountain with all guns blazing - but no. When unleashed, it screams loud but smoothly controlled and somewhat muffled a bit; something I never expected from a purpose-built racing car.

Taken along for a Radical ride

During that event, it seemed like my experience with the Radical machine wasn’t enough. That’s because after my shoot, Radical cars PH's Marketing Director, Enrique Hormillo, tapped the owner and driver of the blue SR1 to take me along for a few laps of exhilaration. That guy was Antonio Brias, Technical Director of Radical Cars PH.

With all things safety-wise discussed in brief, I was given the go to hop in the SR1 passenger seat. And boy was it so tight! I was later told by Ricky that the SR1 passenger seat was intended to be of a smaller size. It shares just 40% of the cockpit space, and that the driver seat is designed to occupy the remaining 60% of the space, which makes sense as it is a driver-focused machine. But yes, I eventually got myself in, and it was surprisingly comfortable, albeit a little claustrophobic due to the safety roll cage and the 6-point racing harness. But it was okay.

We bolted away from the pit lane, merging into the BRC straight. And as expected (and preferred), Brias didn’t hold back, pushing the SR1 to full throttle and applying the brakes coming into turn 1. The next thing I knew, we were carving the corner like a hot knife through butter. I could feel the g-force dominating all over my body, pushing me deeper into the seat and out again upon exiting the turn.

Now, the BRC boasts 14 turns in all. We faced them all in anger for about five or six laps, slowing down to relax a bit in the final lap on the way back to the pits. I couldn’t contain much the excitement I felt. It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. On the straights and in the corners, the car just has what it takes to come out well-balanced and ready to tackle the next challenge. Its 222 km/h top speed on paper, felt like 230 or 250 km/h., too bad I wasn’t able to get an accurate speed reading and a video of the entire run.

And I do have to highlight the way the car behaves in one of the significant corners in BRC, the Brian’s corner. It’s a banked section of the track that sweeps left, allowing for awesome passing moves (and cool action shots for us photographers). This is where the SR1 showcased how it’s built for mechanical and aerodynamic grip. Without getting lost in the sea of technical mumbo-jumbos, the car felt like on rails as it tackled the banked corner with its sticky tires and aero goodies.

Ricky shares that one of the best BRC corners that highlight the speed and handling of the SR1 is the casino or the 2nd to the last corner right before the main straight. He told me that Brias was attacking the corner flat-out, meaning full commitment no braking. That's something I could have never noticed at the time as I'm all soaked up in what was a great thrill ride.

On a mission to set a new pinnacle of motorsport in the Philippines

If that’s how thrilled I was, and I’m just a mere spectator like a child in a toy store, imagine what real racing drivers would have felt. That’s what Radical Cars PH aims to accomplish. And it seems like it’s on the way to reach that goal because in less than a year, it has already collected a number of achievements under its watch.

The most prominent of these is its debut in the Bonifacio Cup 4-Hour Endurance Race held in November last year. With exactly the same blue SR1 car I’ve been in, and Brias behind the wheel, Radical Cars PH managed to beat the competition. It clocked in a total of 122 laps in 4 hours, with 13 laps between it and the next fastest driver. In addition, it’s been proving its racing capabilities in year’s Clubman Racing Series, setting a class of its own in the series’ European Touring Car Championship.

According to Ricky, the ultimate goal of Radical cars PH in months and years to come is to establish its own one-make series featuring the SR1. It would be called the Radical SR1 Cup, and it’s pegged to be the next pinnacle of motorsport in the country. Radical Cars Philippines is now inviting racing enthusiasts, as well as amateur and seasoned racing drivers to book a track test and join the action.

Thank you for the experience, Radical Cars Philippines!

Photos: Randolph de Leon and Radical Cars Philippines

About the Author

Randolph de Leon
Randy is a person with disability (PWD), a partially-blinded person with only his left eye functioning. Since childhood, the automobile has always been his passion, and is able to express it through photography and most recently, through writing as well. Outside the motoring beat, Randy spends time manning the media aspect of his business which he co-founded with his sister/college classmate. It's called Dragonlight Wellness and Solutions, a multi-business venture centering on improving peoples' lives through earning.