ISLE OF MAN AND PIKES PEAK EMBRACE ELECTRIC RACING MACHINERY, SAYS COLIN SMITH
June puts the spotlight on two of the world’s oldest motorsport events, now at the forefront of pioneering electric vehicle competition.
The Isle of Man TT-Zero race and the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in the USA have embraced electric racing machinery.
This month Kiwi Bruce Anstey rode to victory in the TT-Zero on the latest version of the Mugen Shinden electric bike. Electric bike lap times have advanced rapidly since the inaugural 2010 TT-Zero race saw American Mark Miller claim victory at a 15.8 km/h average. John McGuinness holds the lap record at 191.96km/h with his 2015 win. There’s a strong Honda involvement with the Mugen Shinden TT-Zero programme and Honda is also mounting serious electric challenge at Pikes Peak.
This weekend, Honda’s luxury Acura arm in North America will campaign an all-electric EV Concept in the Electric Modified class at Pikes Peak.
With its design inspired by the new NSX supercar, the EV Concept features a further evolution of the experimental, all-electric, 4-motor Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) powertrain that won last year’s Pikes Peak Challenge Exhibition class.
The NSX EV Concept will be driven by Tetsuya Yamano, who campaigned in last year’s CR-Z-based electric prototype. The Concept’s Electric SH-AWD powertrain produces three times the total system output of last year’s electric prototype and is mated to the NSX body.
There are 100 entries for this Sunday’s 100th anniversary (94th running) of the Pikes Peak event and EVs contribute 10 per cent of the entry.
The Acura NSX EV Concept is one of four contenders in the Electric Modified class, which is headed by 2015 outright winner and electric record-holder Rhys Millen who drives the eO PP100 prototype.
Millen finished first last year: along with second placed Japanese ace Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima in his Tajima Rimac E-Runner, beating all the conventional vehicles.
Millen is targeting a sub-9 minute run this year (his 2015 record is 9m 07.272s) and it seems likely that in future EVs will pose the biggest threat to Sebastien Loeb’s 2013 outright record of 8m 13.878s.
The 100th anniversary Pikes Peak International Hill Climb takes place on Sunday (Monday NZ time) with competitors making a single attempt on the 19.9km, 156-corner Colorado course that starts at an altitude of 2862m and climbs to a finish line at 4302m.
Of note, the 2016 entry list includes Hampton Downs and Highlands Park owner Tony Quinn making his Pikes Peak debut driving an Unlimited Class Ford Focus with a Nissan V6 Turbo engine, while Frenchman Romain Dumas jets from his Le Mans 24 Hours victory last weekend to campaign in a new Norma M20 RD Limited prototype.
Dumas claimed the 2014 Pikes Peak title and his team has built a new car that now boasts four-wheel-drive and continues to be powered by a Honda Performance Development turbocharged V6.