You need strong neck muscles to enjoy this one!

Spa-Francorchamps is one of the world’s most famous tracks and the Radical SR3 is one of the world’s most successful open-top sport-prototypes. Pair the two together and what you get is some seriously intense action especially since what’s at stake here is taking the Eau Rouge-Raidillon sequence of uphill bends flat out. It’s even scarier than it sounds.

The Radical SR3 is a former lap record holder on the Nurburgring

Breaking the Laws of Physics in a Hayabusa-Powered Radical SR3
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Belgium is a rather small country, smaller, for instance, than the state of Maryland. In spite of that, Belgium is home to two circuits that have held Grand Prix races over the years and one of them still does to this day.

That is, of course, Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, an idyllic ribbon of road a short 70 miles away from Bruxelles.

The modern-day layout of Spa, while way longer than Zolder, can’t hold a candle to the old Spa road course which was actually made up of public roads that were closed during race weekends, much like the Le Mans circuit.

Breaking the Laws of Physics in a Hayabusa-Powered Radical SR3
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At 4.33 miles in length, it still is the longest track in F1’s calendar although it’s basically half as long as the old track. But, unlike other active tracks that were once much, much longer, Spa keeps the spirit of the old layout alive and, really, that holy ghost resides mostly in one place around the track, up the hill at Raidillon.

You may not realize it from the TV broadcasts, nor this video for that matter, but the track really goes up by 17 degrees from the moment you cross the bridge at the bottom of the hill (the bridge that’s directly above a tepid stream of water flowing over red-ish rocks, hence the name ’Eau Rouge’) and all the way up until you turn left to head down Kemmel Straight.

The whole track is tricky, don't get me wrong, but tackling Eau Rouge and Raidillon correctly is a job in itself.
Breaking the Laws of Physics in a Hayabusa-Powered Radical SR3
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That’s because you’re approaching this sequence of corners at a high rate of speed and then you begin turning slightly left, then right, then as the suspension compresses and the tires almost touch the inside of the wheel wells, you turn right, then left again, all in the blink of an eye. Back in the day, when aerodynamics were considered part of a black art only mastered by the shamans of speed, you really had to be brave to even attempt to go flat through this part of the track because your car could become unstable and veer off course which was akin to a death sentence in those days.

However, nowadays, LMP1 prototypes and Formula 1 single-seaters go flat—out through there effortlessly but, as Jethro Bovingdon found out, it’s not that easy in a Radical SR3 RSX. The Radical, for all its might, lacks the ludicrous downforce of a P1 racer although it must be said it’s a serious piece of kit: weighing it at just 1,477 pounds, it’s powered by a 1.5-liter, four-cylinder, Hayabusa-based engine that cranks out 256 horsepower in basic trim and as much as 449 horsepower in top-spec.

Breaking the Laws of Physics in a Hayabusa-Powered Radical SR3
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What that means is that, in short, it makes mincemeat of just about any road car that’s out and about at a track day, Porsche 911 GT3s and Ferraris included. However, as Bovingdon soon realized, going flat through Eau Rouge and Raidillon has got as much to do with the car you’re in as has with the power of your mind.

You must tell yourself again and again not to lift as you steer right going uphill although naturally, there’s that teeny, tiny bit of fear, that insecurity in the car’s aero grip, that makes you lift. Watch the video to see if the squiggly bit behind the wheel can do it because, by and large, a former Nurburgring record holder, which the Radical is, can certainly do it from a mechanical standpoint.

Michael Fira
Associate Editor and Motorsport Expert - fira@topspeed.com
Mihai Fira started out writing about long-distance racing like the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans. As the years went by, his area of interest grew wider and wider and he ever branched beyond the usual confines of an automotive writer. However, his heart is still close to anything car-related and he's most at home retelling the story of some long-since-forgotten moment from the history of auto racing. He'll also take time to explain why the cars of the '60s and '70s are more fascinating than anything on the road today.  Read More
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