By Jim Taylor, Editor MACS ACtion magazine
We’ve written previously about the future plans of many groups for electric and hybrid racing. Most are just that—future plans and the cars are mostly on paper. However, there are functional and well-developed racing cars out there right now, and some recent news releases reminded us that they are filtering into almost every type of racing.
At the end of August, an Infiniti M35h set a Guinness World Record for the fastest accelerating full-hybrid car at a drag strip in England. The five passenger, four-door new model will be on sale shortly in 21 European markets but not the U.S.
The gas-electric sedan, raced in as-sold or “street” configuration, averaged 13.9031 seconds for several standing start runs on the 400m (quarter mile) course. The Infiniti combines a V-6 engine with a single electric motor that accelerated the car to over 100 mph at the timing line.
The company was quick to point out that the 13-plus second pass puts their car within a few tenths of other performance icons including a 2007 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Volante (13.6 secs) and a 2007 Porsche 911 Carrera (13.6 secs).
And speaking of Porsche, that company also pulled off a hybrid hallmark recently. For the past two years, the company has been developing its GT3 Hybrid racing car. Not only does it use the 465 hp engine from the production GT3, but it also includes an electric motor at each front wheel and a flywheel-based energy collection system. The flywheel system stores the energy instead of battery packs, and then returns it when called for.
It debuted last year, but experienced “technical problems.” (Translated from German, in racing that means it broke a lot.) But one should never underestimate Porsche’s resolve, and they have returned this year with strong and well-tested systems for the car.
You’d think the additional traction and power to the front wheels would be the key in a race, but after the car’s successful run in the recent American Le Mans Series race in California, the team credited the car’s ability to be fuel efficient. The numbers back them up, too. Although the hybrid ran “unclassified” and not in direct competition with the gasoline-only GT3 class, it made only three fuel stops during the endurance race compared to five or more for the other competitors.
At the end of the six-hour event, the Porsche GT3 hybrid had turned the fastest race lap for the GT3 class and finished ahead of every other GT3 competitor. European and U.S. racing groups are looking closely at this hybrid and others with an eye to developing rules to equalize competition.
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