Caliban lore: the days of Group C and the CPP-8X prototypes.
The 80s were truly crazy years. Group A cars were no joke, group B cars were bonkers, and Group C…broke 400km/h constantly.
Caliban wanted to take part in this orgy of speed, high octane fuel and long races; however, they would not be able to take on Le Mans alone, thus starting a search for partners. After an extensive search and negotiations that delayed Caliban until 1984, they finally managed to get to an agreement with Spanish manufacturer Contendiente to co-develop a prototype in exchange for help from Caliban for their IMSA program. After three years of an intense cross effort, the first prototype was put inside the track. The CPP-8X series of prototypes had just started in time for the 1987 season.
The first of the series was their humble beginning in Le Mans. Sporting a twin turbocharged, codeveloped v8, modified to displace 4.6 liters, the CPP-87 produced 650hp; the aerodynamics were still not perfected, and as such, the -87 was a handful as well as underpowered and bad at the corners. The CPP-87 was driven by Alec Henry, Javier Rubio and Dylan Davies. If there was one car that the CPP-87 could kind of give a good duel, though, it was the Nohda 500VX, at Daytona and Sebring.
As such, no wins were obtained during the '87 season, with the ocassional top 10; the Bonhams, Erins and Shromets (who won the championship that year) were just much superior. Aware of this, both companies went back to the design bench to modify the vehicle.
With revised aerodynamics, and an engine now producing 730hp from a revised tune that managed to ramp the power up keeping the reliability, as well as a revised suspension tune, the new prototype was quite the improvement from the -87. The -88 did much better, with a win in that season, and finally managing to keep up with the competition; however, the -88 was still not good enough to win at the mother of all races: the 24 hours of Le Mans. The victory at Sarthe was brought home by Erin that year.
The most notable detail about the '88 model is that it reached its final aspect, with the next -and last- model looking exactly the same except for minor aero tweaks.
The same team as the previous year raced once again in the '88 season.
The final 8X prototype, the CPP-89, was the most succesful of all of them. Harvesting two wins this time, one at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodriguez (Mexico) and the other by making a dream come true for Caliban: winning the 1989 24 hours of Le Mans.
It wasn’t an easy feat for yet again the same lineup of drivers, but after a hard battle against the Erins on track during the last 2 hours, the Caliban managed to take the lead and keep it half an hour to the finish. With this victory, as soon as the season was over, the Caliban-Contendiente motorsports partnership would break, only becoming partners again in 2011.
The aero package was beefed up to the maximum, the car put on a diet to reduce its weight and the turbos tuned to, instead of making more power, keep the same 730hp with added versatility from an earlier spool and therefore, a wider powerband the driver could play with.
To this day, the CPP-89 is remembered as the Caliban that managed to take the Le Mans victory for the kit car company, with its three drivers remembered by the people nostalgic for the days of Group C and racing enthusiasts alike.