A socket, a battery weighing almost half a tonne and 200 kilos of dry ice every day in the box at the race track. These are some of the features that have emerged with the rise of electric race cars, and the new models have completely changed the way racing teams do their work.
Engineer Xavier Serra, mechanic Jordi Martí and race driver Jordi Gené of sports car brand CUPRA, explain the keys of this transformation during a day of testing with an e-Racer:
Learning how to drive all over again: With 30 years of experience, CUPRA driver and ambassador Jordi Gené admits that getting behind the wheel of an electric race car “implies learning from scratch”. “The driving style is completely different and now you have to use other parameters in order to know t what speed you’re driving, how to negotiate a corner or the right time to apply the brake”, he adds. For example, this vehicle’s greater weight and different sound change the references received by a driver while driving. As it is able to reach 100 km/h in 3.2 seconds, Gené assures that the “the feeling of acceleration of the e-Racer is much more forceful, and the adrenaline rush is even bigger”.
200 kg of dry ice every day: During one of the laps, an indicator displays a warning that the driver has to return to boxes to cool the battery. Cooling it down with dry ice is one of the jobs of the mechanic. Furthermore, the engineers also have new strategies on their hands: “It’s not just about being the fastest; now we have another factor to consider: energy management. We must learn how to monitor the temperature and the range”, explains team leader Xavier Serra. In this sense, positioning the 450 kilo battery “was one of the biggest challenges we had to face” when developing this model. The team had to distribute the volume of the battery underneath the car in order to maintain its balance and functionality.
A new ritual: “After working for more than 20 years in this profession I never would have thought I could charge up a race car with a plug”, says CUPRA mechanic Jordi Martí while he gets the e-Racer ready to exit the box again. Even the tools he uses are different. Now he has a set of specially designed instruments to withstand high voltage, such as gloves made with insulating material that can resist up to 1,000 volts.
The future of motorsport: “The arrival of the electric vehicle to racing signals the beginning of a new era”, concludes Xavier Serra. Being a part of the team that has developed and is testing the first wholly electric racing touring car in the world “is like being a part of a historic moment”, says the mechanic. “It’s a very interesting professional challenge”, adds Gené.