The Global View

Rally car shows hybrid’s true potential

dsc00057.jpgWhat do you think of motor sport? Greenbang has always felt a tiny bit hypocritical for loving it. Racing through trees, around muddy race tracks in the North of England at 110 mph was possibly not the best event for the environment.

That’s starting to change however, with Oaktec’s hybrid rally car. In a programme part funded by the Energy Efficient Motorsport (EEMS) and the North West Regional Development Agency, Oaktec has achieved great results using a hybrid car.

To find out more Greenbang has headed north to meet with the car’s creator and driver, Paul Andrews to discuss the handling, green credentials and why the company is trying to compete with a car that’s 300kg heavier than its rivals?

The blunt answer from Paul was rather simple, “to go well in motor sport you need to go well and stop well. The hybrid has two power systems and two breaking systems. So I thought ‘this could be good for racing’.

“That said, when we first turned up in the pits [in 2005], in a 1000cc Honda Insight people were amazed, aghast, terrified and impressed. Maybe they were right as we finished last.  But, by the 2006 season, we had five [Class A Formula 1000] wins in a row.”

Since then, the company has been given a Honda Civic 1339cc hybrid to play with and free reign to develop it into a highly competitive race car.  This was recently entered into the prestigious Jim Clark rally. With Neil Weirdon behind the wheel the car came second in its sub 1400cc class, competing against Ford Kas and Suzuki Swifts, up to 300kg lighter that the hybrid civic.

The team has already given the Civic an extra 15 horses under the bonnet, taking it to 120bhp. Yet, commented Paul Andrews, “if you want to use an eco car you’ve got to maintain its credentials… it still achieves over 50mpg driving between the rally stages.” Oaktec are also aiming for another 25bhp and a top speed of 125 miles per hour within 18 months.