Advertisement
How to add spoiler tags, edit posts, add images etc. How to - a user's guide to the new version of Boards
Mods please check the Moderators Group for an important update on Mod tools. If you do not have access to the group, please PM Niamh. Thanks!

Electric Motorsport

  • #1
    Registered Users Posts: 329 ✭✭ mr potato head


    Without getting into a shouting match about it not being the same or "if it goes electric I'll stop watching", I'd like to have a genuine conversation about how motorsport is going to evolve over the next 20 years.

    I grew up around Rallying and Rallycross, watching my dad and later competing myself in karts, autocross and rallysprints. I'm looking forward to getting back behind the wheel in the near future after more than a decade away.

    I've been to a good few WRC and WRX events and follow both (RX more). Rallycross is probably the best-suited current motorsport to showcasing EV drivetrains without creating a separate/new discipline (Formula E), and I have to say I'm very interested in both the EV supercars and the RX2e.

    It seems that they are starting to convert drivers too:


    I've an EV for my daily driver and I have to say I can't see myself going back, especially when EV hot hatches arrive. I'm also an engineer and am excited about the challenges that need to be solved to progress the cars, Motorsport is key to leading this.
    After seeing the Liam Doran video I thought we are at a tipping point in the adoption and there are some interesting and inevitable changes coming.


Comments



  • Look, the means of propulsion isn't the most important thing in making good races. It's the right mix of driving talent. Formula E is great. Formula 1 has been less so because of the aero rules, not the hybrid propulsion. Those machines are tearing up track records everywhere, but that just makes them hard to race.




  • The elite level will be the first to change anyway and I can't see the racing in disciplines like Rallycross changing in a negative way.

    It's going to be a challenge for clubman/national adoption as they appear.
    An EV single-seaters series, at a formula ford sort of level, will need charging infrastructure at circuits, there are grid challenges to solve in order to support a full field of cars charging at the same time.

    Are there any race engineers or mechanics on here that have heard about any upskilling for EV motorsport?




  • Rob Smedley is working on an electric karting championship. The selling point is proper equality of kart performance. Apparently, at the moment, it's not unknown for the bigger teams to buy engines by the crate, Dyno them, keep the good ones and sell on the lower power over to the less well off.




  • Apparently, at the moment, it's not unknown for the bigger teams to buy engines by the crate, Dyno them, keep the good ones and sell on the lower power over to the less well off.

    Yea that was even going on back in the 90s when I was in Cadets :)
    Don't know if it was so much the dyno, but people were offering crazy money for some engines that were know/seen as faster.

    It will be interesting to see if the same happens in electric drivetrains, motors with slightly more efficient windings or battery packs that can deliver a few Amps more current etc.




  • I know that the Andros Trophy series has been running electric cars for a decade, I've started watching the development of a few other series:

    Extreme E - I watched the first event, the timed stage part was interesting and the cars are impressive (even when someone rolls them into a ball). It was a pity the dust limited the wheel to wheel racing, hopefully in other races we will see more of that.

    RX2e - Spec rallycross development series with 4wd and about 335bhp. Listening to the drivers who have tested the cars it's the amount of adjustment the drivetrain parameters have that makes it interesting and challenging.

    Projekt E - Electric RX cars with about the same specs as the current ICE Supercars. There were a few races last year, but low entry numbers didn't help it shine. When Cyril Raymond came in with a Citroen C3 I think it showed its potential, the car looked far more hooked up and capable than the Festa based cars.

    Electric GT Championship - Ok it has only just been announced, but the 700 kW charging is the really interesting thing in the series. The materials, charging tech and thermal management that comes from it should really impact road cars.


  • Advertisement


  • Rob Smedley is working on an electric karting championship. The selling point is proper equality of kart performance. Apparently, at the moment, it's not unknown for the bigger teams to buy engines by the crate, Dyno them, keep the good ones and sell on the lower power over to the less well off.

    Sure that was going on back in 70’s and 80’s Formula Fords as well.




  • Some people love Formula E, I've tried watching it a few times and it just looks like lads playing compared to F1 and even WTCC and the like.




  • If Formula E raced on proper tracks it would appeal more to current motorsport fans. I've tried watching it a few times but the tracks are terrrible and it looks like they are racing around in a cage.




  • recyclebin wrote: »
    If Formula E raced on proper tracks it would appeal more to current motorsport fans. I've tried watching it a few times but the tracks are terrrible and it looks like they are racing around in a cage.

    They're just too slow, that's the real issue at the end of the day.




  • recyclebin wrote: »
    If Formula E raced on proper tracks it would appeal more to current motorsport fans. I've tried watching it a few times but the tracks are terrrible and it looks like they are racing around in a cage.

    I thought that this weekend's races on a traditional circuit were interesting, even if the Saturday race did show one of the challenges facing EV series going forward.

    Mainly I think that because the power levels available to the drivers can be easily dialed up or down there's a constant temptation to use it as a way to create drama. It runs the risk of adding too much complexity and backfiring.
    From what I understand, the teams had no issue with the outcomes of the race, they freely admit the messed up energy management with the number of safety cars and the rain.

    Formula E and now in Extreme E are using fan boost to build fan engagement and drama, but I hope that disciplines like Rallycross stick to the current format but just different powertrain.


  • Advertisement


  • I drive an EV and they are absolutely without question the only viable solution for road transport.

    That does not mean they are suitable for sport, any more than football players should stop wearing football boots with studs and start wearing dress shoes to be more "street relevant"

    There are some major issues right now, one being that drag squares with speed meaning high speed racing, particularly with strong downforce, is just not possible without burning through batteries at a rate of knots.

    The second is that batteries are extremely heavy. The torque of an electric motor can make up for this in a straight line, and many EVs are fun to drive on the road due to this turn of speed, but the reality is that in a racing scenario these heavy cars are not as nimble for cornering or battling for position, and it also makes more durable less racy tyres a necessity. This is what has decimated F1 as a sport since going to the big heavy hybrid formula, and they've dug themselves further into a hole by going extreme on aero to make up for the fundamental issues caused by the power train.

    One of the reasons Formula E cars have mostly raced on narrow street tracks is that a full size track really shows them up for how slow they are. Short races like Rally Cross that can get away with quite a small battery and don't need to reach high speeds can work very well with EVs, which is the sort of format that Extreme E is looking to expand upon too, but for single seater or prototype circuit racing the tech still has a long way to go.

    It might get there, but the tech is not ready yet. For top tier circuit racing to be really viable they need a major advancement in battery tech, or innovation with battery changes at pitstops or something like inductive charging from the track surface.




  • I agree on lots of the points and that it's not ready yet, which was why I was interested in looking at the development over the next 5- 10 - 20 years.
    Whether we like it or not, the days of ICE-based series are limited, either due to legislation or manufacturing backing. We will probably only see historic racing of them in the next 15-20 years (unless we see major developments in synthetic fuels and hydrogen).

    Formula E is slower, but we have to remember we are looking at first/second gen tech in these events. Look how far Formula E has come in a short time.
    To me, a large element of motorsport is a technology development and showcasing platform for manufactures. Developments like the 700 kW charging in the proposed Electric GT Championship are huge for trickle-down to road cars.

    Rallying is probably very at risk, there are lots of factors that will make it difficult to transition to EV. The Opel e-Rally Cup starts in a week (7-8 May), which will show the gaps as well as the potentials of EV stage rallies at clubman levels.




  • Some interesting conversations about the driving differences for drivers and co-drivers with the current Kreisel cars about halfway through.
    Artificial engine sound is weird/interesting, still not sure about it.





  • Some interesting details of the Rallycross costs for the EV drivetrain
    Car is about €370,000 but ~60% lower running cost according to Manfred Stohl . Running is about €30,000 per event for the proposed RX2 EVs according to World RX, I'm sure the supercars would be a bit higher.

    Used current ICE world spec RX cars are going for about €250,000, so probably over the €300,000 new. Wouldn't take long to start saving money.

    The STARD Projekt E spec cars are competing against the ICE cars in the British Rallycross Championship this year. That means there could be some over in Mondello in July and it should be interesting to see them develop over the season.





  • F1 is the exception rather than the rule, in a lot of other motorsports teams run with a much much tighter budget, and with privateers running cars at a world level. Two front wings on an F1 car ($150k each) would buy you a World Rallycross car, 3 would get you a world rally car.

    Rallycross is very much in this mould, there are no OEM factory teams at the moment. If OEMs can see a cost-effective way of showcasing their product and good small teams can be in the mix, we will see great racing.

    Lower costs mean more teams and closer racing.




  • Costs definitely matter at the lower levels. Will we see an electric racing series to match Formula Vee or the Fiesta's in Ireland any time soon? It will be long time before an electric racing car will come down to around €5k like the Vees or Fiestas.




  • Lots will come with economies of scale, but yes it will be a while before we see clubman categories. I think the biggest issue/cost will be crash certified batteries, the motors/controllers are not massively complex (or less that a clubman can modify).

    The other challenge is getting people comfortable working with high voltage electronics (safely). ICE powertrains are less likely to kill you while you are building them.




  • The first round of the Pure ETCR (Electric Touring Cars) championship this weekend, coverage on Eurosport.

    Slightly strange format, but the cars look to have the potential for decent racing. They also look like a bit of a handful to drive with up to ~680hp in a RWD car.


Advertisement