August 1, 2011

Riley Mk XXII: Ultimate Track day tool, tested

It would be awesome to have a test between all the contenders for the track day world championship, imagine Ferrari FXX vs Zonda R vs the Riley MK XXII...wait, what's a Riley? Hmm you don't follow Grand Am do you?

My magazine stack, like yours, is littered with the corpses of ambitious constructors who have built machines that on paper were to blow the doors off of any Mclaren F1 but that in reality either did not work or were impossible to drive. Bill RIley formed Riley Technologies with his father Bob who was one of the principals in RIley & Scott of Trans Am and IMSA GT fame.
We are not talking Pagani here, we are talking solid, American engineering built to last. Riley tube frame cars have ruled Daytona Prototypes and pretty much every tube frame silhouette racer running in Grand Am comes out of their shop in Mooresville, North Carolina. The Grand Am Mazda Rx8 and BMW M6 are Riley chassis as are the ALMS and ACO Corvette GT2 and Camaro GT4. Riley has an 80% win to start ratio, impressive.

So that is the pedigree of the Riley MK XXII track car, a Daytona Prototype re engineered to cost about half as much and simplified for easier setup and running costs. Gone is the carbon fiber body, in comes the optional air conditioning but one look at the MK XXII and you see it's not something made to be pretty, it's made to go fast. The question is, do you need to be Scott Pruett or Juan Pablo Montoya to drive it and enjoy it?

Now Axis is not in a position to get press cars or free rides but as luck would have it, Riley has an interesting program for its investors and (here comes the full disclosure) CG is one. So last Friday I accompanied him up to Monticello Motor Club where he got to run the car for two half hour session.

I would urge you to take the time to read professional reviews of the MK XXII by Jalopnik's Mike Spinelli and Fast Lane Daily's Leo Parente, We can only add our usual tracktard prospective and give you the Traqmate data file to download and play with.
Sadly we could only get both data and video to work on the very first session then the GPS never locked up, possibly because of the big storm which hit towards the end of the session.

Here are CG's random thought about the car:

-By far th fastest track worthy thing (lap time wise) you can buy for the money, quality also feels great from the driver's seat.

-By my 2nd lap I was driving at 8/10ths, lapping well under my fastest ever in the Porsche Cup at Monticello

-All controls are awesome in quality and precision, Porsche Cup Car level and beyond. Very easy to go fast 8-9/10ths right away if you are an experienced driver.

-Car is extremely neutral and compliant. has literally no handling vices and the engine is very tractable. Of course it can only get better if you can get it with a high revving, high tech BMW engine instead.

-The "driver aids" work and can be dialed off with predicability. The race ABS system is supreme, and allows DEEP threshold braking. It's a welcome thing to be able to left foot brake 100% of the time thanks to the paddle shifters as clutch is only for stop and go.

-Cabin has great visibility and extremely comfortable, a lot more effortless than drivimg a Cup car. Cabin Air Conditioning is a nice plus.

-It is probably how a Cayman RSR with a lot of Aero would feel like?

-Really hard to think about any negatives, other than not having a license plate to enjoy it everyday? Seriously, although you know you are in a racecar because of the 5pt harness, and dash and sterrig full of knobs, it is a machine thats so approachable, that you can go for full hour sessions easily.

-Only downside is that 99.9% of buyers or drivers will never get anywhere close to what the real limit of the car is. Such a great chasis, low weight and real downforce is another new level even for the experienced amateur racer.

-is it beautiful? I leave it up to you, but who cares!!! Seriously wanting for a Spec series to devleop around this car!

Check out the video with data overlay, don't miss CG's spin on lap 2! The Riley right seat minder was a lot cooler about it than the fellow who was riding with me when I tested the Gumpert Apollo at Paul Ricard! But CG recovers well and sets his fast lap on the very next try. It's a fast lap but, just for reference, Riley's test driver while setting up the thing lapped MMC in 2:04! Wow!

Traqmate DATA HERE. You can download the free software HERE


  1. You forgot to mention they build good chumpcars too. They won the 24 hour at VIR over the weekend. Riley has some smart employees too!

  2. I had the opportunity to work on an MKIIIC owned by Mike Lewis once. It was a fantastic machine and when driven well could give just about anything a run for it's money. Too bad in it's heyday it was running against a little german machine called the R8. That was one tough car. It finished the Sebring 12 hour with softball sized holes in the bodywork from built up balls of rubber, the floor breaking off of it. Yet still running like a top.

  3. I can't believe anyone would dare compare this to a lowly cup car.


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