It takes something a bit special to catch the eye of a tourist when they’re staring across the Seine at the Eiffel Tower, but a brace of SR3 SLs parked in front of the Trocadero fountains undoubtedly does the trick. In fact these road legal Radicals swivel French heads faster than any other current supercar. We can say this authority because there were no less than 200 exotic machines flanking us as we formed up for the start of the 2012 Rallye Du Paris, and none were papped by a multitude of camera phones quite like the SLs.
The three car ‘team’ consisted of Radical’s marketing men Roger Green and Will Brown in the only UK entered car in the whole event, Frederic and Virginie Lucy in a black example and Cyril Perret in his orange SL with full race bodywork. However we immediately split up for the first part of the road run to Magny Cours to avoid bringing the whole of central Paris to a standstill. As it was we almost witnessed several shunts as numerous Parisians narrowly avoided falling off scooters and rear-ending the car in front as they stared at us rather than where they were going. We survived unscathed, and as well as being the centre of attention the SL proved perfectly adept at coping with the stop/traffic, the bumps and cobbles and the madness of the Périphérique.
But it’s the open road where the SL really begins to show its class, so we took in a few back roads to exploit the torque-rich punch of the 2.0-litre turbo engine before meeting up with the others once more at an Autoroute service station. Turns out they had been having as much fun as us, which was certainly no surprise to Cyril who has already racked up 6000 trouble free miles – of which two-thirds have been flat-out on track!
Speaking of which, after avoiding the Gendarme’s speed traps we rolled into Magny Cours for the first competitive part of the event – a regularity time-trial. You set a lap-time on your first flyer, then have to match it as closely as you can for next three tours. But first there was a 20-minute session to bed yourself in.
To be honest it was chaos out there. No real rules about overtaking effectively made it a free-for-all, and when you’re in the fastest road car out there it turns into something of a computer game. It’s a absolute hoot to weave your way past Ferrari’s, Porches, Lamborghini’s and brand new McLarens. Even a mighty Gumpert Apollo succumbed to the pace of the SL. Of course being so quick and constantly tripping over batches of supercars made consistency tricky, but we caused one hell of stir out there. Back in the paddock we were suddenly very popular with the other drivers who wanted to know more about the blurs of colour that had been zapping past them on track.
After a quick refuel for drivers and cars it was onto to Dijon, via a road rally navigational stage. And following a very pleasant event dinner and a night in Beaune we did it all again. Great weekend and the perfect event for the SL.