An Australian IT tycoon designing racecars as fast as Formula 1 cars for mega-rich "Gentlemen drivers" is test-driving his 300km/h prototypes himself.
Multi-millionaire David Dicker has spent the past four years developing the world's fastest hypercar on a purpose-built circuit in a quiet corner of rural New Zealand.
The Rodin FZero supercar, a remarkable mega-millionaire boy's toy which could sell for more than $1.2 million, is nearing completion.
And 66-year-old Dicker, despite two recent high-speed crashes, has vowed to strap himself in for its maiden test runs.
"If you have someone like me driving it, then the other guys think they can drive it too," he says.
"Put some hotshot pro driver in there, people will just get intimidated."
While the full lightweight, fully carbon design remains under wraps, the Herald was given a sneak peak last week.
No photos were allowed but Dicker's PR people supplied computer-rendered images of the FZero, which show the dramatic supercar looking like a hybrid of a Le Mans 24-hour racing car crossed with a jet-fighter and the Batmobile.
Custom-designed four-litre V10 Rodin engines are under development from scratch in Britain, while its eight-speed sequential gearbox is being built by UK-based outfit Ricardo, which has supplied transmissions for Formula 1, WRC and IndyCar. Carbon fibre parts have come from China.
The whole thing should be assembled by end of the year, Dicker says while on a private tour of his sprawling factory and test-track complex at Wandle Downs, near Waiau, in remote North Canterbury.
He's stuck to the original concept, "which is to build a car quicker than a Formula 1".
"We've got very high hopes for it – we think it's going to work out very well," he says.
Dicker, owner and founder of Dicker Data, which has an annual turnover in excess of AU$1 billion and employs some 400 people, has a full-time engineering team working on bringing the lifelong dream into reality.
But, over the past two years, his focus has been diverted to another project.
After the Herald exclusively broke the news of Dicker's secret operation back in January 2016, legendary UK sports car manufacturer Lotus approached him with an offer to buy their T125 project – a single-seat racer which terrified former Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson with its sheer speed.
The FZed cars have been modified at Dicker's factory, which features a new high-tech pit garage, and are now resplendent in new Rodin black-and-gold paint schemes.
He hopes to sell five FZed cars – at a reported $US615,000 each, which includes a driver training package at the Waiau test track - by the end of the year, with a Rodin representative currently seeking a UK dealer network.
Dicker, who divides his time between Waiau, his native Sydney, Jumeirah Beach in Dubai and Italy's Dolomites mountain range, has been testing the FZed himself while also spending hours driving his Ferrari 458 Challenge cars around the smooth, winding circuit which has a 1km-long straight.
"No one would take up golf and think in a year or two they could enter a [pro] tournament and contend – of course they couldn't. And driving a car quickly is the same," he says.
"The big difference is motor racing is an equipment sport, so the physical degradation isn't such a big problem. Your brain, balance and judgment doesn't deteriorate at the same speed.
"While you can't physically play rugby at 40, if you put an old Formula 1 driver in a car he'll still be pretty quick. So motor racing gives old guys a chance to do it, keep doing it – the only thing stopping them is the cost."
With the hefty pricetags, the cars are plainly aimed at wealthy buyers, who are often referred to as "Gentlemen drivers" – a term that Dicker himself despises for its "negative connotations".
But he's well-aware that motorsport is a costly affair and wants buyers to beware.
"Running these cars is astronomically expensive. And if you're concerned about the costs of running a car, then you can't afford it. Your budget has to be big enough to realistically cope with whatever might happen."