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Electric car race day: Are electric cars fun?

Electric Car better than cars powered by internal combustion engines. There we said it. Line up any battery-powered car with a petrol or diesel equivalent, and you’ll find it’s smoother and easier to drive, as well as quieter and generally much more refined.

In addition to ending any drive feeling more relaxed, electric cars produce zero emissions as they move, and there’s a huge amount of data to show that, even when tracing materials back to the source, of them, they are still the cleanest, most efficient option we currently have for personal transportation. And recent times have shown us how difficult it is to buy electricity – especially if you can charge it at home and use it from renewable sources.

EVs are also fast in a particular way. Latest Tesla Model S Plaid having three engines and over 1,000bhp, got it running Nürburgring Nordschleife in seven minutes 35,579 seconds. Impressive in isolation, but compare it to some of the other four- and five-door burning alternatives and you’ll wonder what the fuss is about. The new one Audi RS 3 salooncomplete with a five-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, beating that time by a few hundredths of a second, but at a third the price. PorscheThe most powerful SUV, Cayenne Turbo GTfaster and Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, despite having almost exactly half the power, defeat it in three seconds. And its drivers set that benchmark in a t-shirt.

But with more and more driver-focused electric vehicles hitting the market each year, it will only be a matter of time before there are countless battery-powered models that we all want to be on the right track. According to John Chambers, who organized the UK’s first ever electric, tram-only racing day at the Llandow circuit, just around the corner from Cardiff. We’ve been looking together to see if it can change the watch-day landscape in the future or there’s still some resistance to overcome.

John is a self-confessed former petrol magnate. He has been involved in motorsport since the eighties, developing the timing system for Richard Lloyd Racing and private Porsche 956 and 962 drivers for the World Sportscar Championship. Through a host of other motorsport-based ventures – including a driver coaching business that used video analytics (when it had to be achieved with a VHS recorder) to help drivers improve their technique – he finally reached the tram. Like many die-hard motorsport fans, his first impressions of the electric bike were rather skeptical.

“I began to see what Tesla did with [original Lotus Elise-based] Roadster and Model WILL, and I think it’s a bit of a gimmick! At the time, my cars were fast gas-powered cars, so I never saw myself go into that,” he said. But perhaps unsurprisingly for someone with a sporting background that involves working closely with pure lap times, it was the numbers that really set him on the edge.

“When Tesla announced Model 3, I can see that being a game changer,” he added. “I made a quick decision in 2016 to put down a deposit without seeing the full specs. And since we had to wait a few years longer than the US for the first deliveries, we can start to see that there is a small group of people in the US using it for any motorsport activity. they can enter okay. So that got me thinking about racing cars again. “

That leaves John aiming to develop his own Model 3 upgrades (more on that later) even before it even comes out, and also to bring EVs into more general acceptance in the future. UK motorsport. And so we come to this racing festival, a proof of concept that, not only can electric cars be safe and fun on the track, but there is consistent demand from owners.

As it turned out, 24 healthy cars made it to the event, an impressive pass for a first try. While you can expect one day of electronic tracking to now be a long string of Teslas, sometimes Audi e-tron GT and Porsche Taycan thrown in for good measure, that has not proven to be the case. There is a truly eclectic and rare mix of vehicles on display. ONE BMW i3 WILL BEOne Volkswagen e-Golf and even a Renault Twizy were brought along to pass their steps.

With EV conversions of combustion classics set to become an ever-growing part of the automotive landscape, it’s exciting to see such an example here. Early Porsche Boxsterconverted by an operator Neville Payne for a Porsche customer, fitted a Tesla Model S rear engine paired with a 17kWh battery from a Vauxhall Ampera.

When we arrived in the morning, the process was the same as any other day. You check in, chat a bit with your fellow drivers, before a briefing where everyone gets a gentle reminder to encourage keeping their level of ambition below their talent. However, there is a difference in construction; No need to worry if any of the cars in attendance will pass Llandow’s noise regulations.

On the go, it’s like any other day. Except for the noise, of course. There are a lot of possibilities for drivers on cars at various speeds, but outside of the race day equivalent of nailing on a chalkboard (rubbing the front tire in a car), the morning is still passed without incident.

Indeed, John’s primary trade is consistent with the short time of day. He runs TEVO Solutions; a company that develops and provides upgrades to Tesla owners.

As the action continued, we had a chance to look around John’s upgraded Model S before venturing into the lap. After doing his Model 3 Show on the road and a few days of watching at Brands Hatch, it became clear that there were some areas that needed improvement.

The first is the brake system. Relying on regenerative braking on the road means the standard discs and cushions really struggle to keep up with the track. Large AP Racing brake calipers and discs are paired with higher-friction pads to solve this problem. Various suspension upgrades, including Ohlins fork and adjustable handlebars, are also fitted, as well as super-stick Michelin Pilot Cup 2 tires. Originally developed for John’s own car, TEVO Solutions sells these upgrades to other Tesla drivers.

All of these are real upgrades that unlock the Model 3’s savage acceleration and turn it into an entertaining race car. YouTube viewers will recognize Llandow as where our man Steve Sutcliffe does many of our watch battles. It is short but has a few technical parts and the abrasive surface is not good for the tyres; even more so when many cars near the two-ton mark.

While the standard car tumbles during acceleration and rolling through turns, the TEVO remains flat, controlled and nimble through tight bus stops, allowing you to switch on the power much sooner. The brakes are consistent, strong, and don’t even show signs of fading after multiple hard stops. Even the tires hold up reasonably well considering the wear surface. All very, very successful. Are we missing out on the satisfaction of nailing manual shifts and a great engine note? Yes. But are we still having fun? Sure.

Our lap brought us to our lunch break, which revealed that one aspect of electric vehicle ownership needs improvement. As many owners will confirm, it’s not the cars themselves that need to function, but the infrastructure. Driving any car on a track uses a lot of energy, be it fossil or electric, meaning it’s not unusual to top up in the middle of an event like this. But while gas stations are commonplace for motorists and require just a quick five-minute refueling before getting back on the road, that process becomes a bit more complicated and time-consuming for motorists. electric vehicle owners.

However, there is a glimmer of hope for those with electric cars. As electric vehicles become more common during events like this, it’s not out of the question that circuit owners will install chargers on site, meaning motorists can top up at any time of the day. without leaving the premises.

It’s a huge investment, but there are ways to incentivize circuits to improve their infrastructure and spread knowledge about electric vehicles in general.

John said: “I once had a round of discussions about riding an electric car during my driving experience days. “This would be the perfect opportunity for an EV charger supplier to install charging points at the circuit. But it needs the development of infrastructure in this country to support this. Even if the charger were just outside the circuit, it would be a huge improvement over what we have currently on most versions. “

John also points to other obstacles, some of which are due to a lack of education about the electrical system. “I’ve been to some circuit where the police have told me, if I put it in the gravel, they won’t come near me!” he explained. However, John says the training is coming up, citing Thruxton in Hampshire in particular as a location very well versed in tackling electric vehicles, especially after it hosted its record-breaking supercar run. Mission Motorsport in one Renault Zoe back in june. “It’s definitely starting to happen,” he added. “It has to change, so I want to make sure we don’t wait to be forced to change and stay proactive about it.”

There are also some practical advantages, John points to the experience from his most recent outing at Brands Hatch in Kent. “There are a lot of red flags in the morning; None of them due to EVs,” he said. “In fact, it’s all the result of oil left on the circuit!”

So do date tracking EVs work? Entirely based on our experience, especially when those changes take place. We don’t see a future for events like this being exclusively electric; indeed, if burn-in cars are finally legalized on the roads, this could be one of the few places where it’s still possible to experience the sounds and smells of classic show cars. But one thing we can promise is that no matter the power of your model, driving a car and your own ability to get out of the way of speed-restricted public roads will always is a thrill.

Click here to see our list of the best electric cars on sale right now

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