We spent two years designing and refining the Tiger Shark. Our aim was to build the world’s fastest two seat open wheel formula racing car suitable for training and racing. Some of the best aeronautical engineers helped us to get the drag to a minimum and two very experienced race car engineers worked to keep the weight down and the stability up by designing a suspension which has virtually no bump steer or dive. In other words, a solid predictable car that would be forgiving and challenging. We got multiple CAMS Gold Star winner and motorsport legend Kevin Bartlett to help us get the setup just right and then we took it to the track!
On May 1st 2011 we took the car to Lakeside for the Festival of Sports and Racing Cars championship race meeting. Straight out of the transporter during the General Practice on Friday the car was consistently under 65 seconds after 5 laps!
After changing spring rates and tyre pressures for the third session the Tiger Shark was already running some laps under 60 seconds on Lakeside’s 2.5 kilometer circuit. Now we were sure we had a world beater for the price and purpose that we wanted – in fact we became concerned that it might be a bit too fast for its purpose as the most advanced race driver training car in the world but, fortunately, it is always easier to make a car go slower than it is to make it go faster.
Kevin Bartlett said qualifying went particularly well and we were in the 58’s by the 4th lap. That turned out to be good enough to get the car on pole with two wins, and two thirds for the weekend. It was the highest point scoring car in the field and won the first place trophy for the weekend.
A few words about the technology and the car are in order. The drive train is the high output low weight Honda KA20 VVT-I engine which Honda uses in a number of its high-performance cars in both front and rear wheel configurations. In the Tiger Shark, we have taken a complete front wheel drive line and placed it in the back of the car creating a mid-engine vehicle. Rigidity of the chassis is the foundation of predictable stable handling characteristics. We chose to use the “big pipe” space frame that had been used in several cars but most notably the Ariel Atom. It meant we could have a big car for two people that was very light to get excellent handling and very rigid with a variety of strong attachment points that enabled us to build out bump steer. This chassis structure is almost impossible to repair if it gets damaged; but a training car is not supposed to get damaged so it was a good compromise.
In its training configuration this car is running 300HP/tonne so acceleration is dramatic and the car is so light that we locked out first & second gears due to uncontrollable wheel spin off the line. Making third gear starts with proper clutch balance are the fastest; and a top speed of 260 KpH at Lakeside is readily achieved in ~550 metres.
The Tiger Shark takes race driver training for Formula cars to a level that has not been seen before.