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Editor/Photographer : Mark Charles

 

April 4 2003

NEW JAGUAR SPORTS CAR SETS THE PACE

Jaguar JP1A thrilling new Jaguar sports car, created to deliver the ultimate circuit driving experience, has made its track debut. The 180 mph Palmer Jaguar JP1 uses a modified version of the 3.0-litre V6 engine from the Jaguar X-TYPE and brings new meaning to the phrase ‘racing green’, having been tuned to run on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

Designed in the spirit of a Le Mans-style race car, the distinctive JP1 has joined Jonathan Palmer’s ‘Motorsport Sensation’ programme, the UK’s premier track driving facility established by the former Formula One driver at the Bedford Autodrome, near Thurleigh, Bedfordshire. Engineered to be enjoyed by novice and enthusiast drivers alike, the JP1 is powered by a 245 bhp version of the proven 3.0-litre AJ-V6 engine from the all-wheel drive Jaguar X-TYPE. Cosworth Racing has adapted the power unit to suit the mid-engined layout. The rear wheels are driven through a race specification six speed ‘sequential’ shift gearbox, that allows rapid upward gearchanges with a short, sharp pull-back of the lever without even lifting off the accelerator.

The characteristics of the 24 valve, 3.0-litre V6 from the Jaguar X-TYPE make it well-suited to the JP1. Its all-aluminium construction ensures a low mass and even in standard tune the engine produces a healthy 231 bhp. Cosworth Racing has increased this to 245 bhp, boosted the torque using a bespoke engine management system and improved responsiveness by fitting a lightened flywheel and revising the inlet and exhaust systems.

Weighing barely 650 kg, the JP1 has a power-to-weight ratio approaching 370 bhp/tonne – more than twice that of the standard 3.0-litre Jaguar X-TYPE road car – which ensures fantastic acceleration. From a standing start, the JP1 reaches 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds and 100 mph in a further 3.2 seconds. A maximum speed of 180 mph is anticipated.

"I have driven the Jaguar X-TYPE and it has great performance feel and nimble driving dynamics, which combine to make the car flattering to drive. It is also soundly engineered. These are qualities the JP1 shares, with the result that it is easy to drive quickly – and great fun," said Jonathan Palmer, whose race driving CV spans Formula One, Le Mans and Touring Cars.

Beneath its sleek glass-fibre bodywork, the JP1 has a steel tube ‘space-frame’ chassis, with fully adjustable all-independent suspension front and rear. Light alloy wheels with ‘slick’ treadless tyres offer ultimate dry weather grip, with a grooved option should it rain. Powerful disc brakes with four piston callipers are also standard.

"The Palmer Jaguar JP1 captures perfectly the performance of spirit of Jaguar," commented Stuart Dyble, Director of Communications and Public Affairs for Jaguar Cars. "When Jonathan approached us with the initial plans for the JP1, we immediately recognised a perfect way for us to share our passion for driving enjoyment with a wider audience. This innovative programme will further raise the Jaguar profile by allowing enthusiasts to experience the dynamic attributes that make a Jaguar so special."

"I’m passionate about delivering the perfect motorsport experience for my guests," explained Jonathan Palmer. "Producing our own sports car – the JP1 – is a personal ambition of mine. Having competed in the Le Mans 24 Hours six times, there’s
something very special about driving a sports car. And with its mighty Jaguar V6 power and state of the art suspension geometry and aerodynamics, the JP1 produces phenomenal acceleration, cornering grip and braking capability. Cosworth Racing has done a great job adapting the engine for the JP1 and it really flies. Incidentally, the exhaust note is sensational – to me it’s reminiscent of a V12 Jaguar Le Mans car!"

Bedford Autodrome, where eight JP1s will be based, is designed purely for track days and corporate driving events. It consists of four race tracks – the North, South, East and West – which can be interlinked to create larger, more challenging layouts. The Palmer Jaguars will make their home on the 1.5 mile South circuit, where guests can relax in a purpose-built, Jaguar-themed hospitality suite while waiting for their turn at the wheel – or calming down afterwards!

"The JP1 is awesome through the South circuit's series of unique turns," added Jonathan Palmer. "For a true adrenaline charged challenge, nothing beats the first high speed chicane. Blast up to 130 mph on the approach; brake unbelievably late, push on the gear lever to go down a gear then get straight back on the power as you flick left and right at 90 mph!"

Prior to the JP1 entering service, Jaguar and Jonathan Palmer sought an independent assessment from monthly enthusiasts’ car magazine, EVO.

"The Palmer Jaguar JP1 offers thrills that are genuinely identical to a pure-bred racing car experience," said EVO co-editor, Richard Meaden. "That said, it is rather more forgiving than you might expect. This is a good thing. It allows people to jump in and really feel they’ve explored its abilities, more than in other track day cars I’ve tested. AT EVO we take each car we feature to the Bedford Autodrome as part of our assessment process, and a lap time of 1m 9.8s makes the JP1 the fastest car I have driven around our test circuit. To put this figure in perspective, the lap time for a Ferrari 575M (with 508bhp) is 1m 24.5s."

In addition to the cars used in the ‘Motorsport Sensation’ programme, a small number of ‘evolution’ track day versions of the JP1 will be offered for sale.

An action-packed day spent at the Bedford Autodrome, with the Palmer Jaguars plus six other cars, costs around £500 per person. Bookings can be made by calling 01403 733999.
Look out for the JP1 being driven by Britain’s latest rising star in Formula One, Justin Wilson, during this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix coverage on ITV1.

Specification

Palmer Jaguar JP1

Engine
Cosworth Racing tuned
3.0-litre Jaguar AJ-V6 24v with variable inlet valve timing and three stage variable inlet manifold

Dry-sump

Bespoke engine management

Fuel
LPG

Power
245 bhp/7,000 rpm

Gearbox
Hewland six speed
sequential manual
Limited slip differential

Brakes
Ventilated discs with Alcon four pot callipers

Wheels
13" x 9" front; 13 x 10.5" rear

Tyres
13" Avon Racing

Length
4520 mm

Width
1740 mm


Height
1100 mm

Weight
650 kg

Power to weight ratio
370 bhp/tonne

Performance

Top speed
180 mph

0-60 mph
3.6 secs

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