ELEC­TRIC RAL­LY­CROSS CAR STUNS ON DE­BUT

Pho­tos: Colin Casser­ley, Hal Ridge, Trevor Coul­son

Motor Sport News - - Sporting Scene - By Hal Ridge

The world’s first elec­tric ral­ly­cross car made its com­pe­ti­tion de­but at a na­tional event in Aus­tria last week­end.

For­mer World Rally Cham­pi­onship driver Man­fred Stohl set the third fastest lap time against World Rally Car and Ral­ly­cross Su­per­car ri­vals.

The an­nual Race of Aus­trian Cham­pi­ons event was held at for­mer FIA Euro­pean Ral­ly­cross Cham­pi­onship venue Grein­bach, where a range of cars com­peted in rally and ral­ly­cross cat­e­gories.

Cre­ated by Aus­trian re­search and de­vel­op­ment firm STARD, the 544bhp four-wheel-drive ma­chine is based on an adapted Su­per 2000 Peu­geot 207 chas­sis.

Stohl and the car over­came wet con­di­tions and early tyre trou­bles to prove its po­ten­tial against the more con­ven­tion­ally pow­ered ma­chin­ery, in­clud­ing Max Pucher’s FIA World Ral­ly­cross Cham­pi­onship-spec­i­fi­ca­tion Ford Fi­esta Su­per­car.

Stohl said: “Af­ter a great test ses­sion at Grein­bach on Thurs­day, we were a bit too op­ti­mistic with the tyre choice.

“It was par­tic­u­larly tough with a brand new car in such dif­fi­cult con­di­tions but, on the other hand, we col­lected a lot of im­por­tant new data and ex­pe­ri­ence for the de­vel­op­ment of the car. We’re very happy with the day. We have seen that our torque dis­tri­bu­tion on the front axle needs some more op­ti­mi­sa­tion for such tricky con­di­tions in or­der to avoid too much un­der­steer.”

STARD’S project ran for the first time fol­low­ing a spate of an­nounce­ments from man­u­fac­tur­ers, in­clud­ing Audi and Volk­swa­gen, about their po­ten­tial in­volve­ment in the elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of ral­ly­cross in the fu­ture. VW is said to be par­tic­u­larly keen on ral­ly­cross fol­low­ing its WRC with­drawal.

“For quite some time we have been work­ing on a ded­i­cated ral­ly­cross vari­ant of this car with over 1000bhp and four mo­tors [one per wheel],” said STARD chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Michael Sakow­icz. “We are eval­u­at­ing var­i­ous pro­cess­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties and are in dis­cus­sions with some po­ten­tial part­ners for the fu­ture al­ready.”

Kew Jr will be joined by his fa­ther Stohl set the third fastest lap time

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