02 Jun: Rallying’s future?

Time to Think – and to Plan

Given the fact that rallying has been suspended for the foreseeable future, it gives us all to time to sit back and ponder what that future might look like. If this article can generate some GENUINE debate and practical suggestions then I might just pass them on to Motorsport UK – along with my own!  Contribute on Facebook or here – [http://www.jaggybunnet.co.uk/contact-us/]

Motorsport UK has announced a new set of rules and technical regulations to allow electricity to enter the world of amateur motor sport. Unfortunately, rallying will get left behind until such times as two person crews are allowed to share a cockpit. That means we have a wee bit of an opportunity to get the rules right before the sport kicks off again – whenever that might be. This is not criticism of MS UK, just an acceptance of fact. Until the boffins come up with a proven vaccine for this bluidy covidia business then we will have to accept that two in a car is unlikely to happen any time soon.

Introducing such a radical new concept is going to be difficult. Some hybrid cars can have more than one electric motor and some of the fully electric jobs have one driving each wheel. With hybrids you also have a naturally aspirated, turbo or supercharged engine. Coming up with a set of regulations that attempts to even that out will require not just mental dexterity and technical expertise, but a touch of black magic as well!

Late last year, Vauxhall Opel started testing its Corsa-e Rally car. Quick and agile but limited in range. It uses the same battery as the production car with a 50-kWh motor that enables a range of 209 miles (337 kms). The rally car has three modes: ‘Competition Mode’ which gives full power and maximum torque for at least 37 miles (60 km); ‘Rain Mode’ that gives a torque curve adapted to slippery surfaces; and an energy-saving ‘Eco Mode’ for use between stages and going to service.

It would be relatively easy to accommodate hybrid cars as the rules stand, but the electric machines pose more of a problem. Before they could become practical propositions, there would need to be a quickly interchangeable and reasonably priced battery pack option. Manufacturers will give you different prices for different packs because they all seem to measure power, charging and discharging rates differently. It’s also worth bearing in mind that these battery packs lose efficiency – up to 20% after 5 years according to some reliable sources.

As for replacement or spare packs, some of these cars have over 7,000 battery cells in their packs. Just try going down to Tesco and asking for 7000 of those infuriating Bunny drumming cells. At current high street prices that will be around £11,000, then add all the electronic gubbins to manage and make these packs work. Oh, and one other thing, they might only have a couple of hundred in stock! On-event charging would be quite impossible.

Electric cars bring another problem to the sport. There would need to some form of safety and technical training for Scrutineers, Marshals, Medics and Breakdown crews. Just another cost to hang on the organisation of events.

Such cars might therefore be considered … [Next Page 2]