Swallows Racing’s Tom Robinson drives the Series Elite Project 8
I was delighted to be invited by Series Elite CEO Graeme Glew to drive the Jaguar SVO built Project 8 XE around Silverstone International circuit at the recent MotorsportDays.LIVE event. As I’m sure you can understand I jumped at the chance to get behind the wheel of such a well-regarded wild Jaguar!
The first thing you notice about the car is its resemblance of a steroidal version of Jaguar’s entry-level saloon combined with the Series Elite stylish new race livery the vehicle really does have a sense of purpose, I believe that over eighty percent is a completely new car. Let’s face it, the XE did need a bit of pumping up. SVO’s mission was to create the ‘most capable track-focused Jaguar ever’, with the welcome by-product of galvanising the company’s youngest and hungriest engineers.
Project 8 can do 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds, 200mph all-out, uses JLR’s 5.0-litre supercharged V8, makes 592bhp, 516 torques, and re-deploys the F-Type SVR’s 4WD hardware. “Isn’t this all a bit… silly? A 5.0-litre supercharged V8, four-door track car at Silverstone in the wet?’’ Said nobody! I can assure you I was pleased to see the car was sat on new Pirelli P-zero tyres, so this should be fun!
Climbing into the car the first thing you notice is that the dash layout and controls are the same as road version of the Project 8 and haven’t been modified for the race car which makes for an easy environment to adapt to. It’s certainly a different proposition to my 1995 Jaguar XJR race car that I drive in the Jaguar Enthusiasts Club Saloon & GT championship. Graham and his team have added a full MSA approved roll cage and safety equipment as well as removing some extra weight from the car and adapted some small modifications to the Project 8 stability settings to help remove some driver’s aids.
Setting off down the pit lane with highly experienced race-instructor Ray Grimes sat beside me I couldn’t wait to pull the pin, as we costed out on track the shear acceleration of the Project 8 just blew me away, combine this with the AWD system the car hardly broke traction even in the torrential wet conditions, there is good turn-in grip and very stable, consistent cornering grip, meaning you don’t feel at all nervous leaning on the chassis in bends. The Bilstein dampers guarantee a very stable and solid platform, a level of body control that no other saloon I have driven can even come close to, with just astonishingly sharp steering response. Just as the Project 8 begins with a hint of slide, it steps out slightly at the back then simply rockets away. The eight speed upshifts are despatched in milliseconds with a shove to the back and a satisfying snort from the exhaust pipes. The epic roar is a hallmark for Jaguar but is even more present in the Project 8. There can be no tougher test of a track-focused car than a wet and cold Silverstone, yet in those most challenging of conditions the Project 8 gives you the confidence to press on. After what seemed like seconds the chequered flag was out and that was the end of my 15-minute session.
After a season spent developing and testing the Series Elite Jaguar XE SV Project 8 race cars the team have made the decision to join the well-established GT Cup series in the GTA class for 2020. This will give drivers the opportunity to experience longer races, with larger grids and battle against variety of GT machinery with the chance to win the overall championship from any class with its unique group and point’s structure.
I would just like to say a massive thanks to Graham Glew from Series Elite and sponsor the Jaguar Enthusiasts Club. I’m excited to have played a part in such a unique concept and cannot wait to see these cars in action.