Autocar Track day diary — Sabre Supersports 1000 at Bedford Autodome

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    photo 1 (8) (2). It's the first time out for Darren and the Moss family's new track toyI'm betting that very few people out there will have heard of the Sabre Supersports 1000.
    It's the brainchild of Andy Bates of AB Performance - a motorcycle sidecar racer-turned engineer and entrepreneur. The Sabre is his design for the ultimate track car and, thanks to investment from Peter Jones after appearing on the BBC's Dragon's Den programme, the project has taken off.
    So what is it? The Sabre uses a 998cc Honda Fireblade engine with a six-speed sequential gearbox. That all sits inside a spaceframe chassis made of lightweight T45 steel, giving the whole car a dry mass of just 490kg. The LMP-style bodywork gives the car the same race-inspired look as the Radical SR3 - its closest competitor.
    However, while even an approved-used SR3 costs around £50,000, an all-new Sabre can be had for £30,000.
    And the best part? We've just bought one.
    We is myself, my dad Hadrian and my brother Chris. Both have done entry-level motorsport before and, along with myself, wanted something to take onto the track and have fun with. We're no strangers to track days - having run a Westfield Megablade also prepared by AB Performance for the past year. Between selling that, and our Porsche 911 993 Targa - the Sabre suddenly became very affordable.
    So, almost seven months after signing on the dotted line, this weekend was the first chance we had to take the Sabre out onto the track. The venue? Bedford Autodrome, famed for its wide open spaces and rather strict noise restrictions.
    Soon enough the green light was on and the pit lane was open. There were 88 other cars present for this track day - more than double the on-circuit limit of 40 - so the track was crowded to start with. Still, after some quick adjustments the car was ready to head out. Having paid for it, my dad was given the first go.
    He returned just two laps later, saying the Sabre's Flatshifter - which allows the car to control gear changes using only the throttle, rendering upshifts clutch-less - was playing up. Some quick adjustment and it was ready to go out again, this time with brother Chris at the wheel.
    Two laps down again, and he was back in. Smiling, but saying there was a lot of heat coming through the rear firewall. That could be because we'd had to swap the normal race exhaust for a road-legal one to save on noise, says Andy, so we'd have to change that.
    Again, minutes passed while the changes are made, and then it was my turn.
    Now let me make this absolutely clear - the Sabre is unlike anything else I have driven before. It's not difficult to drive by any means, but it will bite you if you don't treat it right, something I found out to my cost later on. But, as we exit the pit lane and join the track, all is well.
    One corner down. It's the first straight up ahead, and my first chance to see what the Sabre's got - and it's got a lot to give. Power is immediate and ferocious, forcing you back into the seat. We're into triple digits before getting to the next corner and I hit the brakes. I'd been warned by Andy that this was the thing we'd notice most. The aerodynamic effects of the car combined with race-spec discs and pads mean the stopping force is simply phenomenal.
    Out the other side and it's down to the top corner before the main straight. The Sabre buckles down for the high-speed straight and it feels only right to let her sing. And sing she does, revving to 10,000rpm before I give in and shift. Technically, it'll rev all the way to 14,000rpm before needing a change. But this being its first time out, I was playing it safe.
    I make good progress around the rest of the circuit, until I get to the top hairpin. I'm getting cocky now, and I know I'm going too fast. I brake too late and go wide, and on the next corner I lift. It's the wrong decision, and I'm treated to a blurred horizon as the Sabre carries straight on into the grass. The engine stops, and I'm stranded. That is, until two marshals help me rock the Sabre back into life and we nurse back to the pits.
    I know the truth here - I ran out of talent. I wasn't the only person to spin our new racer that day - my dad had two spins too due to the Flatshifter playing up. There was plenty of setting up to do and lots of adjustments to be made. That's what we expected, though, and I reckon most kit car owners will testify that there's always some fettling to be done.
    We continued to get faster throughout the afternoon, and slowly, we all found our confidence with the car. The most important thing in racing, so I'm told, is to get straight back into the car when you've had an 'off' - and I'm glad I did so.
    There are plenty more track days to come this year, and plenty more opportunities to push the Sabre harder and faster. If you've got your own track-day toy, maybe we'll see you there.


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