SUPERLEAGUE FORMULA DP09
OK, the football meets motorsport angle the organisers went for didn’t quite work out, but dig beneath the cross-sporting metaphors and dodgy liveries and there was some technical marvel within the Superleague Formula Championship.
The cars themselves were far better than people gave them credit for, and were many people’s idea of an iconic single-seater.
Like carbon chassis with not too much downforce and screaming 750bhp naturally aspirated engines? Dislike traction control and driver aids? The Superleague Formula DP09 was essentially your perfect mixture.
The chassis were designed and constructed by Us-based Elan Motorsport Technologies – the parent firm of Panoz – so had pedigree. They were mated to a stunning Menard Competition Technologies [MCT] naturally aspirated 4.2litre V12 engine, which was a work of beauty.
The units were prepared in the Leafield Technical Centre, before Caterham F1 Team arrived – and then went again. The awardwinning MCT engine took its design and performance blueprint out of the history books, when engineers weren’t burdened with strict efficiency targets. The result was a free-revving unit capable of 12000rpm and 750bhp.
F1 abandoned V12s back in 1998, so to see a modern single-seater bucking the trend and bringing back true muscle and noise was great.
Superleague Formula’s Robin Webb said at the time the sole consideration for the car was to stir emotion. Webb said: “We like to consider ourselves the naughty boys of motor sport. By that I mean we brought a V12 engine. It’s not very green is it? It’s not diesel is it? It’s not running on batteries. But it has the most glorious sound and the fans love it.
“We went for cars the width of F1 cars, slick tyres and a 750bhp full-fat V12 engine, and it just seems to work very, very well.”
Drivers loved the unaided purity of the cars too. No traction control, launch control or other electronic aids left success up to driver skill, and the car used predominantly under-body aerodynamics to allow them to run close together.
The series itself began in 2008 and lasted just four seasons before whimpering to a close in 2012.
Mechanical gremlins blighted its second season but its outright speed continued to shine through, eventually bouncing back to the top step of the podium this season.
While it has forged itself as a genuine contender, the days of the S60 are numbered with the car set to be confined to the history books. Volvo announced plans to withdraw from the sport at the end of the season in May.
Garry Rogers Motorsport still intends to run the S60s next season but faces a fight with Volvo which has vowed to recall its cars, engines and intellectual property at the end of the year.
The S60 will be remembered for taking the fight to Holden and Ford and for launching Supercars’ latest young star in Mclaughlin.