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Sunday, December 3, 2023

Monitor testing the daring way forward for national-level electrical racing

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Turning into the primary nationwide championship to completely electrify is not any small feat for the Scandinavian Touring Automobile Championship. The FIA’s ETCR championship that fell over after simply two seasons had producer help, whereas on this case there isn’t any enter from producers, so I’d say it’s a daring leap to take. However as a fan of EVs, I used to be naturally interested in it, and after I was supplied the chance to check out the STCC’s take a look at mule at Mantorp Park I jumped on the likelihood.

The prototype PWR002 is a transformed TCR racer, however options all the identical gear that subsequent 12 months’s fleet of 12 410kW rear-wheel-drive automobiles can have. These will incorporate the unique mannequin’s chassis and be fitted with electrical motors and different spec elements by EPWR, which is a part of the identical group because the PWR Racing staff that has gained 4 of the final six TCR Scandinavia titles with Robert Dahlgren. The Cupra Born, Tesla Mannequin 3, BMW i4 and VW ID.3 are in construct, though the latter presently doesn’t have a staff or drivers related to it.

Having arrived on the monitor I used to be launched to all the blokes from STCC and EPWR, together with Dahlgren and EPWR’s technical chief Janne Ljungberg. Dahlgren will race the Cupra subsequent 12 months and helped out with the preliminary PWR001 that got here out in 2018. However as soon as the 002 got here alongside and had its first demonstration run at Mantorp with Joel Eriksson final 12 months, EPWR needed to maintain it a bit extra separate and distanced itself for equity to the opponents, so it’s not like PWR has achieved all the event and can blitz everybody.

After watching some onboard video of the monitor to get an thought of how tight the corners had been, and a run via of the controls from Janne, by 11am it was time to get out on monitor. I did two five- or six-lap runs – I apologise to Janne as a result of I fully forgot to rely what lap I used to be on in my first run! – which was sufficient to begin getting a little bit of a really feel for the automobile.

The DTM Mercedes C-Class I drove within the 2008 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award evaluations was the one time I’d beforehand pushed a touring automobile, however on the finish of the day it’s a rear-wheel-drive racing automobile with a roof excessive, so not too dissimilar to a GT automobile or a Porsche Cup automobile that I’ve pushed earlier than.

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My solely prior expertise with an electrical racer that wasn’t clearly an ultra-refined Formulation E single-seater, with 50 engineers working full-time on the challenge, was the four-wheel-drive RX2e electrical junior rallycross automobile. I acquired to drive it at Calafat final 12 months as a leaving present from Mahindra, as they’ve a technical partnership with QEV who constructed the automobiles. That was the place my thoughts was going earlier than driving the PWR002 after I was desirous about it being a touring automobile that you simply’re going to smash the kerbs in and really feel the physique pitching below braking. And that just about matched as much as the place I ended with my impression.

Picture by: Anders Helgesson/STCC

Sims will get to grips with the STCC’s PWR002 prototype, with the help of EWPR’s Ljungberg

I used to be comfortable that it was quick sufficient to be a problem to drive. As a racing driver you’ll at all times wish to have extra energy, but it surely was within the window of what felt like an honest racing automobile. I launched the pit limiter and also you get wheelspin. I left an honest line of rubber on the monitor!

Contained in the cockpit it had super-simple software program on the sprint and there have been only a few driver aids, with no ABS or traction management. That’s not meant in a derogatory method. It was as plug-and-play an answer as it may be when it comes to altering to electrical, with the essential stuff you want like lap time, delta time, motor and battery temperature and little or no else. Coming from Formulation E the place there’s a lot info that the sprint is attempting to let you know to handle – vitality, temperatures, tyres, brakes, all these items – there was none of that.

The PWR002 is sort of a uncooked automobile. There’s a couple of totally different throttle maps, you’ll be able to manually regulate the regen quantity via a rotary swap on the steering wheel, and that’s about it. As soon as you already know the process to modify it on and make the drivetrain stay, it’s simple and must be accessible to a variety of drivers. Within the EV panorama, it does the job nicely of being a reasonably pure racer you could bounce into and rag.

It was a handful and I got here away smiling after each periods. I needed extra laps in it!

Conserving it so simple as potential is the very best coverage and that appears to be what EPWR has achieved. I went to an ETCR race at Zolder final 12 months and acquired speaking to individuals from the ERA junior single-seater help collection about all of the issues they had been desirous to do with the automobiles, exploiting the potential fiddly bits which might be nice about having an electrical automobile and attempting to be a mini-Formulation E. However to me that was simply shouting for budgets rising scarily, since you profit from doing extra testing, having extra engineers to handle the methods and simulations. You don’t need complexity that can reward you for spending extra money, so the STCC seems to be taking place the fitting path by avoiding that.

That stated, there’s nonetheless sufficient to be getting on with within the PWR002 to create alternatives for errors. For example, when the battery is absolutely charged you’ll be able to’t recuperate any extra vitality, and it’s simply acquired a guide brake bias adjuster – there’s no brake-by-wire on the rear axle – which the driving force has to make use of to compensate for the shortage of regen. I’d guess it might be round six or eight clicks of brake bias to have optimum braking on the primary lap after which be winding it again after that.

It’s not simply this simple automobile to drive in a way that you are able to do no matter you need with it. You’ll nonetheless profit from fine-tuning the set-up and it’s nonetheless going to reward somebody who’s on high of these nuances. It was a handful and I got here away smiling after each periods. I needed extra laps in it!

Sims believes the car straddles the line between being accessible but still challenging to optimise

Picture by: Anders Helgesson/STCC

Sims believes the automobile straddles the road between being accessible however nonetheless difficult to optimise

The grip degree supplied by the treaded Yokohama tyres, that are designed to be run in moist and dry situations, clearly will not be that of a slick. I discovered the lateral restrict of the tyre inside a couple of corners on my first run, and there was a bit little bit of squirming from the tread the place it strikes earlier than the tyre really slides on the floor, so it is advisable get used to that motion and use it. However the longitudinal efficiency didn’t appear too dangerous and below braking the automobile responded moderately properly.

The factor I used to be extra impressed with was the tyre’s longevity from a thermal viewpoint. My expertise in Formulation E was that in the event you’re caning it then you definately actually begin shedding tyre efficiency after two or three laps, however that wasn’t the case within the PWR002. There may need been some drop-off if I’d continued to do increasingly laps fine-tuning issues, however for the laps that I did there didn’t appear to be a lot. I might nonetheless enhance simply the nook facet of issues actually late into the run and I wasn’t feeling just like the tyre was massively dropping away.

The 50kW regen was adjustable and I fiddled round with that in the course of the run. It’s noticeable and impacts the rear axle loads. You should use it to calm the automobile down getting into a quick nook, or if you’d like a bit extra rotation you simply click on the regen up and it’s successfully the identical as going rearwards on the brake bias. It’s going to cost your battery extra, and also will provide you with a bit bit extra energy. That’s as a result of it appears they permit the motor to place out all the ability that the battery can ship, so that you’ve acquired essentially the most energy when the battery is absolutely charged.

The final run of the day was significantly better from the angle of me getting extra out of the automobile and I shaved three seconds off my time from the morning session, though I’d say there was one other couple of seconds in it. However in all probability my second or third timed lap was my quickest as a result of, despite the fact that I felt like I used to be driving higher and honing into the wants of the automobile, I’d be shedding time because the battery voltage was taking place and I simply had much less energy. If the STCC opts to not cap the ability in order that it will likely be constant via the run, then it’s going to be about optimising your lap very early within the run on a excessive state of cost.

Fortuitously, the format will lend itself to this. Except for the road occasions at Helsingborg and Gothenburg that can make use of a Race of Champions-style head-to-head format, the primary races at standard tracks will final quarter-hour the place drivers will drain the battery from full to empty, so I don’t assume it’s going to create an excessive amount of of an influence management-type state of affairs.

You would possibly get a bit little bit of raise and coast on the finish of straights, the place you acquire a negligible quantity of lap time for vitality spending to only try to preserve that state of cost up a bit bit longer, but it surely’s not going to be like Formulation E. It did cross my thoughts that if a driver was sensible at attempting to raise and coast a bit, it might influence issues, but it surely actually relies upon what that drop-off is. I hope it doesn’t turn out to be a case of who can save essentially the most vitality initially of the race and nonetheless be within the pack and simply drive previous everybody.

I naturally err in the direction of wanting the STCC to succeed with its shift to electrical and sincerely hope it pays off. It is going to be a troublesome nut to crack, as a result of electrification adjustments the followers’ expertise on the monitor with the distinction in noise.

Sims is confident that the STCC's new era will provide fans with an entertaining spectacle as the cars move around

Picture by: Anders Helgesson/STCC

Sims is assured that the STCC’s new period will present followers with an entertaining spectacle because the automobiles transfer round

The organisers want spectators to purchase into it, however I’m assured that it may nonetheless be the thrilling spectacle that touring automobile followers anticipate with shut racing, the odd bump and crash, and the automobiles transferring round on monitor. From my quick expertise, I’m certain the field might be ticked when it comes to the automobiles trying energetic!

One thing I recognised fairly rapidly about Formulation E was that it was thrilling not essentially as a result of it was electrical. I loved being part of it as a result of there was heaps occurring, quite than as a result of it was an electrical model of one other racing automobile.

My expertise in Formulation E was that in the event you’re caning it then you definately actually begin shedding tyre efficiency after two or three laps, however that wasn’t the case within the PWR002

So, whereas it’s clearly necessary for the companions and from the technological facet to champion the electrification and the sustainability that it’s bringing – the battery storage items might be charged from renewable vitality off web site after which be dropped at the monitor to cost the automobiles within the pits – to achieve success the STCC has acquired to captivate individuals from a sporting viewpoint. Sadly, that is fully irrelevant to the funding being made to modify over to electrical drive!

I actually hope that there’s steady buy-in for a number of years from the companions and the non-public race groups to proceed working them and that the numbers improve. Stakeholders within the STCC have needed to be affected person this 12 months, but when they keep the course then it has all of the elements to reap the fruits from its leap of religion. The following query is: how lengthy will or not it’s till different nationwide collection comply with go well with?

Autosport thanks Alexander Sims, the Scandinavian Touring Automobile Championship, Johan Meissner and EPWR for his or her help with this characteristic.


The STCC’s shifting sands

Whereas its British counterpart has loved pretty secure laws since transferring away from Tremendous 2000 in the direction of Subsequent Technology Touring Automobiles (NGTC) in 2011, the Scandinavian Touring Automobile Championship’s transfer to full electrical automobiles is just its newest massive shift in the identical timeframe.

It began out because the Swedish Touring Automobile Championship in 1996, capitalising on the Tremendous Touring growth by giving former BTCC racers a second house. Jan ‘Flash’ Nilsson was its first champion, whereas Mattias Ekstrom was launched into the DTM shortly after his 1999 title triumph. The STCC belatedly switched to S2000 for 2003, earlier than merging with the Danish collection and rebranding because the Scandinavian championship for 2011.

In an indication of its rising stature, that season featured worldwide drivers together with Colin Turkington, James Thompson, Gabriele Tarquini and Fabrizio Giovanardi taking up native aces Rickard Rydell, Fredrik Ekblom, Tommy Rustad and Richard Goransson. But it surely preceded a dangerous cut up, as groups proved reluctant to repeat the NGTC formulation favoured by the STCC and fashioned the breakaway TTA Racing Elite League.

After only a single season, in 2013 the TTA merged again with the STCC, which took on its formulation of three.5-litre V6 silhouette automobiles. Nonetheless this mannequin proved tough to market to producers and by no means actually took off, with Polestar’s Cyan Racing arm undefeated earlier than the production-based TCR mannequin was embraced for 2017.

Collection veteran Robert Dahlgren, a race winner courting again to his first season in 2004, and the PWR Cupra staff proved the period’s dominant drive with 4 titles. Dahlgren needed to give greatest in 2018 to Johan Kristoffersson, who underlined that he’s greater than a rallycross ace by including a second STCC crown to his 2012 success, whereas in 2020 Rob Huff pipped Dahlgren to turn out to be the STCC’s first non-Scandinavian champion since Roberto Colciago in 2002.

The deliberate swap to electrical automobiles for 2023 has been pushed again a 12 months because of supply-chain points for battery provider STARD, however 12 automobiles are anticipated because the STCC turns into the primary nationwide or regional touring automobile collection to completely electrify. The calendar has but to be introduced.

The move to TTA rules didn't pay off for the STCC, prompting a switch to TCR rules for 2017

Picture by: Cyan Racing

The transfer to TTA guidelines did not repay for the STCC, prompting a swap to TCR guidelines for 2017

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