We know what you’re thinking: another startup that’s making a lot of noise about its ambitions to reinvent the sports car and take on the big boys, and will probably disappear without a trace within the year. Well, hear this one out. It seems to be offering something genuinely different.
Quarkus is a little-known French startup, which we first heard from a couple of years ago with something called the P1. It was said to weigh less than 500kg but never seems to have made it past the rendering stage.
Its second car, however, did. Imaginatively named the P2, at least one working prototype has been built, featuring an unidentified 1.0-litre four-cylinder engine that one outlet reckons is from a Suzuki GSX-R1000 superbike. It’s boosted by both a supercharger and a mild hybrid system, and said to make around 250bhp - plenty in a car that apparently weighs about 550kg.
Now, Quarkus has shown us the latest version of its car. Guess what it’s called? Yep, the Quarkus P3 is the latest car to emerge from this mysterious company, and it’s got its sights set on one of the most demanding events in all of motorsport: the Pikes Peak Hill Climb.
Like its predecessor, the P3 is apparently powered by a mid-mounted four-cylinder mild hybrid engine. Again, we’re not sure where it’s sourced from, but it’s producing a claimed 295bhp in a package that weighs a scant 600kg.
There are at least a couple of things that sets Quarkus aside from a lot of these other startups. Firstly, as seen on its social channels, there’s at least one working prototype of the P3 already out on track. Secondly, the company’s Pikes Peak effort has some sort of support from racing driver Romain Dumas. In addition to having two 24 Hours of Le Mans victories to his name, Dumas holds the outright Pikes Peak record in the ludicrous Volkswagen ID.R.
He won’t be driving the Quarkus up the Colorado mountain, though - that job falls to French race Bruce Jouanny, who also has Le Mans history in addition to a season in the Formula Renault 3.5 championship.
Quarkus has shared a couple of renders of the Pikes Peak version of the P3, which, compared to the existing prototype, features more aggressive aero (including an active rear wing) and uprated cooling.
All being well with the project, we’ll see the P3 take on the famous hillclimb this June. All being even better, we might see some production cars from Quarkus further down the line. The Alpine A110 shows that France can build a lightweight sports car just as well, if not better, than the rest of the world. If Quarkus can offer something even lighter and more involving, then we’re very much on board.