Electric premiere in rally

Electric premiere in rally

MOTORSPORT

The ŠKODA RE-X1 Kreisel electric racing car has entered the world of motorsport in full force. At the Rallye Weiz in Austria, it was the first electric car in the history of rally competition to complete the full course without any difficulties. Competing against combustion engine cars, it finished third overall in the race.

23. 7. 2021

The ŠKODA RE-X1 Kreisel is an experimental prototype built in collaboration between the ŠKODA Motorsport team and battery technology specialist Kreisel Electric. It is based on the successful ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo rally car.

ŠKODA Motorsport engineers, together with the Kreisel Electric developers, modified the car’s floor to integrate a 52.5 kWh electric drive battery. The main changes inside are a different steering wheel with a range of controls, engine compartment and the absence of a sequential gear lever. This has been replaced by paddles under the steering wheel used to select the recuperation level.

skoda-re-x1_1-1 The ŠKODA RE-X1 Kreisel is a prototype built in collaboration between ŠKODA Motorsport and Kreisel Electric.

A combination of innovation and experience

The ŠKODA RE-X1 Kreisel operates with two electric motors. One is mounted on the front axle and the other on the rear axle, with no mechanical connection. The biggest development challenge was to get the two axles to work together so that the whole car functions as a true Rally2 class rally car. We developed special software to control the drivetrain, based on the detailed requirements of the drivers. The car’s beautiful cornering shows that we did pretty well,” said Daniel Foissner of Kreisel Electric, who was clearly delighted with the results. 

Although the ŠKODA RE-X1 Kreisel has the same shock absorbers, wheel hubs, suspension and brakes as the ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo special, these components had to be adjusted for the higher weight. The experienced Baumschlager Rallye & Racing (BRR) team helped with the final chassis modifications. The firm is headed by Austrian rally legend Raimund Baumschlager, whose racing experience stretches back into the 1980s.

skoda-re-x1_2 The ŠKODA RE-X1 Kreisel is based on the ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo.

“Our speciality is the electric drive of the ŠKODA RE-X1 Kreisel. We are very happy to be partnering with the BRR team, otherwise we wouldn’t be here today. Their years of competition experience allow us to compete with the right chassis set-up for the car, on the most suitable tyres and with the appropriate service facilities. In addition to the excellent support from ŠKODA Motorsport and in fact ŠKODA as a whole, they are another key partner for our electric rally car project,” Foissner added. 

ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo vs. ŠKODA RE-X1 Kreisel  

A podium finish with no clutch or gearbox 

The crew of Raimund Baumschlager/Jürgen Heigl kept the ŠKODA RE-X1 Kreisel at the front from the start of the race. “For a car we drove for the first time in February, that’s great. I have to change my driving style a little bit, because the car is about 100 kilograms heavier than the classic FABIA Rally2 evo. There’s also no clutch or gearbox, so it’s a completely different way of judging speed when cornering. Otherwise, though, the RE-X1’s handling is getting closer and closer to a petrol-engined Rally2,” said Raimund Baumschlager, summing up his feelings about the racing experience.

On the second day of the event, most of the timed tests were run on wet asphalt, which played into the experienced Austrians’ hands. They moved up into third place on the very first stage. During the midday service break, Baumschlager’s smile showed that he was feeling good in the car. “I seem to be quite good in the wet with the ŠKODA RE-X1 Kreisel. I made a great tyre choice and we gradually increased the pace. Everything is working great,” said the multiple Austrian rally champion on Saturday morning. 

Most of the measured tests were run on wet asphalt. Most of the measured tests were run on wet asphalt.

Charged in 15 minutes

In addition to the flawless performance of the in-car crew, ensuring that the car’s battery had enough power was also key to the successful completion of the race, of course. In agreement with the organisers, specially designed CHIMERO mobile charging stations were set up in predetermined places on the transfers between the stages. The Kreisel Electric team designed it to be mobile, easy to operate and at the same time provide a high charging power of up to 200 kW. CHIMERO can recharge the ŠKODA RE-X1 Kreisel to 80% in 15 minutes, so there’s no threat to the race schedule and consequently no risk of time check penalisation before the start of the next timed section. A fully charged ŠKODA RE-X1 Kreisel can travel up to 35 kilometres at a full race pace. During the Rallye Weiz, it was proven that this purely electrically powered prototype can, like the Rally2 specials, complete the full length of the race, i.e. 14 special stages covering 160.44 kilometres, or 514.33 kilometres including the transfers, without any problems.

The Baumschlager/Heigl crew maintained their strong pace, finishing in third place among the Rally2 class cars. “Third place is a brilliant result for us, especially since this was the world premiere of an electrically powered competition car that completed the full length of the race. We would like to thank all our partners for making this possible. We now have a lot of data needed for further development and we can’t wait for the next race.” 

The Baumschlager/Heigl crew finished in 3rd place among the Rally2 class cars.The Baumschlager/Heigl crew finished in 3rd place among the Rally2 class cars, the category was won by the Simon/Gerald team in the ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo.

The ŠKODA RE-X1 Kreisel confirmed that the ŠKODA Motorsport team’s experience in developing top competition cars, the innovative thinking of Kreisel Electric and the championship background of the BRR team are leading the charge towards one possible future for rally racing.

“We are delighted that the experience and knowledge of the ŠKODA Motorsport team contributed to the great success of the ŠKODA RE-X1 Kreisel prototype in its very first race. Our partners from Kreisel Electric and the BRR team did a fantastic job throughout the Rally Weiz. For the ŠKODA Motorsport team, the project to implement electric drive in rallying has been an exciting challenge from the very beginning. Of course, we are also delighted with the overall victory of the Wagner/Gerald crew with the ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo from the limited Edition 120 celebrating 120 years of ŠKODA in motorsport. Having two cars with completely different powertrains on the podium shows that the ŠKODA Motorsport team is well prepared for the future of rallying,” says David Jareš, ŠKODA Motorsport Customer Programme Coordinator.

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