The Barnard BTR7, a proudly South African supercar built in Bloemfontein, has successfully undergone its initial shake-down test at Phakisa Raceway near Welkom and is expected to be ready for action within months.
Designed to give petrolheads the most thrills per lap that money can buy while at the same time paying homage to Le Mans endurance racers, the BTR7 (for Barnard Track Racing, with the ‘7’ alluding to the horsepower) is aimed primarily at the European and North American market, where a strong track-day culture already exists. Exported price is $250 000 (approximately R1.97-million), ready to race.
Customers will take delivery of a 524 kW track-ready brute, capable of coping with the toughest conditions thanks to a robust design and the use of proven components from the big names in international motor sport.
With a wheelbase of 2 970 mm and an overall length of 5 700 mm, this car is no shrinking violet either. Everything about it is supersized and, for example, rear rubber measures almost 400 mm across. It is meant to be imposing, and it backs it up with some pretty impressive performance. Out the box it is good for 300 km/h plus and a 0 – 100 km/h dash in well under four seconds, though well-rounded track ability rather than straight-line performance is its raison d’être.
To this end, suspension is fully-adjustable with a choice of either Penske or Bilstein dampers. The brakes are from Brembo, and the gearbox is a beefy six-speed manual from Tremec.
Says designer and company founder Chris Barnard: “We’ve deliberately steered clear of complex electronics like traction control and you won’t find any driver aids here…it’s driving distilled to its purest form. Importantly, the 7.0-litre V8 can run on normal 95 octane pump fuel.”
Of course, comfort and safety is important and you do get air conditioning and power-assisted steering, while the chassis monocoque is made almost entirely of high-tech Swedish metals like DOCAL and DOMEX and you sit tight in carbon fibre race seat, secured by a proper competition harness. A dual-zone fire extinguisher system is standard.
The BTR7 is a development of the Barnard 101 prototype first revealed almost three years ago, and one of the stars of Auto Mechanika 2009. More powerful BTR11 (1 100 horsepower thanks to a supercharged V8) and affordable BTR3 versions are in the pipeline.
Barnard Cars has also announced that they’ve secured the services of experienced racer Grant van Schalkwyk to take charge of the final phase of the on-track development work. Van Schalkwyk, 44, has four national championships to his name in a variety of formulae and also had a brief foray in NASCAR in 2008, managing three top-10 finishes from just six starts.
The Barnard represents a tantalising opportunity for enthusiasts to own an authentic racer, which is focussed on ease-of-use both in terms of requiring little maintenance, and also minimal set-up time to extract the best from it. And one thing is for sure – on the track it lives up to the brand’s pay-off line – Run Wild.