"Japanese cars aren’t supposed to be beautiful are they? They’re meant to be functional and affordable, the sort of machines that have been designed and built by scientists and doctors rather than artists. 50 years ago there was a "
Mud, Blood and Rage.
As I felt the unmistakable sensation of blood pouring out of my arm, I wondered if it was worth it.
Picture the scene – there I am, lying prone on a hospital bed after being rushed into A&E. I’m really not well, and the Doctor attending is attempting to ask me questions about my symptoms while a nurse draws vials of the red stuff from me for tests. He’d got more than he asked for, evidently. It was my 13th day of illness, and I’d suddenly taken a serious turn for the worse.
Was it really worth getting Meningitis for 30 minutes of off-road driving? As the needle was carefully pulled from my arm, the nurse made a witty comment about providing a bit more blood than required and I found myself thinking back to the place where I picked up what could be a very serious illness indeed.
Now, this part needs a moment of audience participation. Imagine if you will, a drama series style flashback as the scene transitions from the hospital to the site of a large, muddy quarry in Lincolnshire.
As the camera pans across ‘2 weeks earlier…’ is stamped into the mud and you see me standing nervously alongside a fierce-looking rally machine. It’s a creation of Rage Motorsport, and for reasons that would become quite obvious to me in the next few minutes, it goes by the name ‘Comet’.
If the name didn’t give it away already, the Comet travels at a genuinely frightening level of speed. Mounted behind the cage you are strapped to seat inside is a 1352cc 4-stroke, which happens to be the most vital of all the organs found in the latest Kawasaki ZZR1400 motorcycle. This potent innard is donated to the Comet, providing a lifeforce equating to 200bhp, which allows the Comet to scamper over terrains hostile to most machines at speeds of up to 120mph – if you’ve the stones for it.
Unlike the super-mega Space rocks it is named after, the Comet is light, with a dry weight of 565kg, so acceleration is understandably violent. 60mph can take as little as 3.5-seconds and the combination of speed and vibration as you propel yourself down barely allows you to see the details of the track you’re throwing yourself down. The deafening sound of the Kawasaki engine behind you – an engine that can hit 12,000rpm – is accompanied by stones, grit and chunks of mud pinging off the metal you’re surrounded by and is only interrupted by the split-second switches of a 6-speed Quaife sequential transmission. Your senses are given a real working over inside the Comet, but this isn’t a machine that you should be intimidated by.
The looks, the noise, the statistics – yes, it’s a lot to take in. This is a high-performance rear-wheel-drive beast, and you will be nervous when you get inside it but strap yourself in and put your trust in it. Everything is intuitive, from the gearbox – simply controlled by the type of floor-mounted shifter you’ll find in most WRC machines – to the feel of the pedals and the unassisted, natural steering. It’s easy to look at this creation and see a challenge ahead, and it might well be to master, but this is something you really must drive to understand. It feels like a car, despite its buggy shape, extreme suspension and motorcycle heart, this is something that feels like performance car drivers won’t have much difficulty adapting to.
Rally being rally, my time with the Rage was cut short. It’s an unforgiving type of motorsport, as evidenced by a mechanical failure suffered just 30 minutes into the session. As it turns out, that detached wheel wasn’t the biggest issue for either me or the team. The day was over, and I’d already swallowed just enough putrid quarry water to trigger a biological failure too.
So, as we transition back to the hospital, you’re probably wondering if I thought it was worth it. Well, the blood tests came back negative. It wasn’t Meningitis, thankfully, so my answer is a firm ‘yes’. This Rage creation is something any performance enthusiast should get to experience – it is a ferocious, capable and thrilling machine that will leave a lasting impression on anyone who drives it.
Just try not to shout ‘WOOHOO’ as you fly into several inches of aged quarry water when you do, and when somebody offers you a free flu jab, maybe give a firm ‘yes’ to that too, hey?
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