Would electric car racing be better? The Rallycross world thinks so

Just as horses remain popular in racing while no longer a normal means of transportation, motor racing will be one of the last staples of the internal combustion engine as other forms of vehicles go electric. But one racing series has bitten off the bullet and is now transforming. Rallycross has been running on fossil fuels for over 50 years, and the FIA-approved World Rallycross (RX) version since 2014. Starting this weekend, World RX has given up on dinosaur juice and opted for a fully electrified future.

The all-electric World RX race is (perhaps appropriately) held in Hell, Norway. World RX has had a secondary RX2e series that has been using EVs for a few years, but from now on, the RX1 main series will also be electric, becoming the RX1e. Rallycross, as the name suggests, is a mixture of off-road driving with track racing. The tracks extend on both paved and gravel roads, making them very challenging for drivers, who have to master the handling of cars on both types of surfaces.

When rallycross was invented in 1967, it was aimed at television, and to make it more broadcast-friendly, races are short and action-packed. The tracks are twisty, often very hilly, and the cars only have to complete a few laps per session. So strong acceleration is necessary, but no need to stay for hours. This makes the assembly an ideal candidate for electric vehicles, which provide tremendous power and torque from the moment you touch the accelerator but may not run a very long session when this is deployed most of the time.

World RX has officially announced its plans for an electric comeback in 2020. There were discussions going back to 2018 for the first time in 2020, but that was with the series’ previous promoter and the deadline slipped when the partnership changed hands. In a sport so popular with sustainability-conscious Scandinavians, the eco-friendly corner of the electrified World RX could be the main focus. However, drivers also claim that the new electric cars will be much faster than previous internal combustion cars. Some even say they don’t want to go back to burning again. After testing the propulsion system installed in a “mule” rally car in Austria, 2021 European Rally Championship winner Andreas Mikkelsen said he does not remember when he smiled so much from the car’s acceleration.

The drivetrain is common to all cars and was supplied by Kreisel. The batteries supplied by the Kreisel can provide 500 kW of power (680 hp) to the all-wheel drive system for the duration of the race, with a whopping 880 Nm of torque. The secret behind this is a cooling system that uses a dielectric fluid (which does not conduct electricity) across the individual cells. This can also be supplemented with track conditioners, which Formula E also does, to keep them at the optimum temperature. World RX expects the packages to last four years of racing. Kreisel also supplies high performance battery systems to a leading manufacturer of electric boats XSureso it’s making a name for itself as a seller of specialized batteries for speed in other areas as well.

This 52 kWh package weighs just 330 kg, and with other savings, the cars come in at around 1400 kg. This means that the power-to-weight ratio is close to 500 horsepower per ton (metric). The Formula 1 car has a much higher power-to-weight ratio, but being rear-wheel drive can’t necessarily put this as well as the electric World RX all-wheel drive car. The RX1e’s 0-62mph sprint time is just under two seconds, making it faster than the current F1 car.

The electric World RX racer already set a record at Höljes in Sweden, which was supposed to be the racing debut for the electric car, but supply issues delayed the launch to hell. FIA Quad Rally Champion Johan Kristofferson, who also won the inaugural volleyball season. extreme e“I think fans will be surprised by the performance and the speed,” he says. Newcomer Clara Anderson, a 22-year-old who goes down in history as the first woman to compete in the FIA’s top FIA-approved Rallycross World series, describes the acceleration as “brutal”.

World RX’s focus on sustainability doesn’t stop at the motorsports. Tire chain partner, Cooper Tires, is trying to do his part. The RX1e’s World RX tires have been reduced by 400g each while made from stiffer materials to handle the electric vehicle’s extra torque. The company has also been experimenting with bio-oils during manufacturing and dandelion as a source of natural rubber, though the latter is only in the experimental phase so far. Even the track’s builder, Volvo, has a sustainability mission. Hell’s smaller site equipment was all electric, although only one of its largest machines was – a massive excavator, which sat proudly atop the track.

This is a bold move from World RX. There will be resistance, of course. It is possible that some hard-liners will regard this shift as a farce. If you like your motorsports to be deafening and smelly, quieter and cleaner electric racing will take a while to get used to. But the proof of the candy will be in the race. Evidence is that the RX1e cars will be faster than the previous generation, and soon could be much faster once teams get used to making the most of them. As World RX driver Timmy Hansen said: “I love driving fast cars, and it’s a fast car.”

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