VW ID. R Pikes Peak at the mountain race
Lifestyle

E-rally racing: Motor sport for everyone

Lifestyle

E-rally racing: Motor sport for everyone

May 22, 2019

Setting a speed record at Pikes Peak in 2018, Volkswagen demonstrated what electric mobility is capable of. But it electric cars do not always have to be cutting edge sports cars to be fun. In Germany, more and more motor sport fans are becoming enthusiastic about amateur rally racing which anyone can participate in with their electric car.

Discover here: 

  • Why racing electric cars is so much fun
  • Why the most powerful car is not the most important thing in e-rally racing
  • What the drivers have to pay particular attention to
  • Which different e-rally races already exist

Electric cars: record-breaking speeds

A historic event: in 2018, an electrically powered Volkswagen model outperformed all other competitors - including proven models with conventional drive systems. In the legendary mountain race to the summit of Pikes Peak (4,302 metres) in the US state of Colorado, the ID. R Pikes Peak from Volkswagen set a new track record with 7:57.148 minutes. No other racing car in 102 year history of the race has ever completed the almost 20 kilometre long serpentine road with 156 corners faster. The car is the sporty precursor to the electric ID. Family that Volkswagen will launch in 2020.

One thing that all electric cars have in common is their fast acceleration. This also makes driving an incredible amount of fun for hobby racing drivers. The responsiveness of electric motors arises from the technology itself: electric cars can draw on their maximum torque from a standstill. Therefore, they can accelerate extremely rapidly even at low speeds. Many electric vehicles accelerations that otherwise belong to the realm of sports cars when it comes to combustion engines.

 

Electric cars score with their driving characteristics

The electric motor needs less cooling than a combustion engine allowing the front section to be far more streamlined. Although the electric car batteries are relatively heavy, their weight and low installation position actually enhances the vehicle’s track stability and improves driving behaviour. So it is no surprise that a number of e-rally races available to everyone have already sprung up around the nation. Here, electric cars regularly and impressively show what they are capable of on the course.

 

On the racetrack, electric cars demonstrate what they are capable of.

Recharging without stopping

The special kick for electric racing: drivers do not necessarily have to drive at full throttle in order to be the first to cross the finish line. Instead, a strategic driving style helps: on the one hand, it is important to plan the route well, including stops. Local conditions also have to be taken into account: ascents or descents along the route cost more electricity on the way up but the battery can be recharged on the downhill stretches without any problems - entirely without stopping - thanks to the recuperation function. In addition, every driver needs to understand the optimum balance between consumption and speed.

E-rally racing is becoming increasingly popular: new events are launched every year while more and more enthusiastic E-competitors are registering. Well-established races also exist and have already built up a fan base over the years. Some examples? Here are three interesting E-rally races:

From the city to the sea: The "Northern European E-Mobile Rally"

The "Northern European E-Mobile Rally" takes place for the 10th time in 2019 and takes its participants across Schleswig-Holstein: the route starts at the historic Lübeck town hall market, continues through the state capital Kiel, along the Baltic Sea via Timmendorfer Strand to Travemünde. The finish line is located directly on the seafront promenade, where tourists otherwise enjoy the famous fish sandwiches.

The list of participants always includes international competitors with teams from China, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, Denmark and Belgium. The race is not just about who crosses the finish line first. The competitors also have to tackle various tasks on the individual stages of the race. There is a slalom course immediately after the start, followed by orientation tasks as well as consistency and performance trials. Only those who make the fewest mistakes and keeping up with the times take the lead.

An electric car rally runs along the Baltic Sea
A dream destination in Germany: the "Northern European E-Mobile Rally" runs along the Baltic Sea.

24-hour race: the Eco Grand Prix

The role-model for this race is a classic: as in the Le Mans 24 hours race, the competitors drive the circuit day and night - in 2019 at the equally legendary Hockenheimring. The goal is to drive as many laps as possible. In the "Eco Grand Prix" → teams from different manufacturers with their own company cars compete against private owners to set the lap record in their class. In 2018, the successful rally raid driver Jutta Kleinschmid even took part.

The competitions in recent years have shown that it is not the allegedly best car that wins but rather the best team. The aim is to optimise driver change times, adapt the charging strategy to the weather conditions and, above all, to drive energy-efficiently. In addition, some conditions have to be observed: no driver may drive more than eight hours in total and the drivers have to switch out after four hours at the latest.

Across Germany: "The E-Cannonball"

The electric race E-Cannonball also goes through Hamburg

The name is actually somewhat misleading: Originally the "Cannonball" was an illegal high-speed race on the highways of the USA. However, the "E-Cannonball" → is definitely not illegal nor is it a simple full throttle race. Rather, a sophisticated strategy is essential to win the everyman's race from Hamburg to Munich. Around 60 electric cars aim to travel the 837-kilometre route on German motorways efficiently once again in 2019.

The challenge on the long route on open roads: to optimise energy consumption and speed while keeping an eye on charging points in order to cover the distance with as few stops as possible. In 2018, the best time was around 8.5 hours. Anyone who is interested in electric mobility can take part, even if they do not yet have their own electric car - borrowed vehicles are also permitted.

In summary: motor sport with electric cars is attractive

The increasing number of participants and e-rally races makes one thing clear: more and more people are becoming interested in the sporty side of electric cars. The good acceleration and amazing driving pleasure make e-motor sports so attractive.