The Electric Future Of Motorsport At Autosport?

Before we get into this, I’d like to lay my own cards on the table.

A lot has been written and said about electric vehicles, and people tend to come down in either one camp or the other; for or against them. I’m open to electric vehicles, I’m interested in them but ultimately I remain unconvinced about their future in motorsport. Try as I might, I just can’t come to enjoy a series like Formula E or the Jaguar IPace eTrophy.

While I have the utmost respect for the people involved, for the engineering and the rapid advancement of the technologies, they still leave me cold. Volkswagen’s I.D. R has come the closest in eliciting the same joy I get from traditional motorsport, which is almost entirely down to its brutal performance and the fact that it faced off against its internal combustion engined rivals.

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At Autosport International last week, I spent some time looking around the Formula E cars on display to see if I could better understand or appreciate them. As with most single-seaters, they’re difficult to relate to as most of the good stuff is either hidden away or just not in anyway applicable to a road car.

That was that then, I had tried but still remained unconvinced…

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Until I happened upon this Ford Fiesta RX car later in the day.

From a distance, it looked to be just a rolling RX shell without the engine, but I then noticed the distinctive orange high voltage cables which are the norm on most of the battery and hybrid electric vehicles I’ve spent time with over the last couple of years.

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From pretty much every angle, it looks like your typical Supercar-class Fiesta, which is obviously a great thing. It’s something we’re all familiar with, and most importantly, we can all relate to.

However, as you’ve probably already guessed, it’s far from typical.

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This is the STARD Ford Fiesta electRX, a 612hp all-electric rallycross car, and a machine I’m 100% on board with.

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In place of a 2.0-litre fire-breathing internal combustion engine, it features three 150kW motors – one in the front and two in the rear. Each axle has its own transmission – a 2-speed with straight-cut gears – with no mechanical connection between the front and rear.

Each of the three motors develops 370Nm of peak torque for a combined 1,110Nm (819ft-lbs) with a maximum RPM of 13,500. Its top speed is 240km/h (150mph), which might be 40km/h less than a Formula E car, but it can reach 100km/h a full second faster in just 1.8s.

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The cars are built from the ground up at STARD, who start with a Fiesta ST Mk8 shell and install an FIA homologated rollcage. The majority of the pieces which make the car work are all bespoke, even the motors are STARD-specific Brusa hybrid synchronous motors and controllers with their own in-house developed firmware and software for the vehicle control unit.

Torque distribution between the independent axles is controlled with STARD’s proprietary two-axle torque vectoring system, which was developed in conjunction with the Vienna University of Technology.

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The centrally-mounted lithium-ion battery packs are again to their own specification, enclosed in a quick-release carbon fibre structure with its own liquid cooling and conditioning system. STARD state that the batteries can be charged to 80% capacity in 15 minutes.

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Electric drivetrain aside, the Fiesta electRX is pretty much your normal, competition specification rallycross car with adjustable differentials, McPherson suspension front and rear, and FIA safety devices. The steering is electro-hydraulic, and the AP Racing brakes front and rear feature blended adjustable energy recuperation.

While I haven’t been able to uncover the vehicle’s weight, I can’t imagine it being far off a normal RX car. The majority of an EV’s weight is normally in the batteries, and with the electRX car designed for short rallycross sessions, they would have been able to minimise the amount of batteries required. The above video features WRC driver Hayden Paddon testing the car recently, and shows the incredible lag-free power of the car.

There was talk not so long ago of a new electric World RX class to replace the current Supercars, which was met with much skepticism and condemnation. So much so in fact that plans to replace the Supercars have been put on hold for the mean time. While I don’t think that these should replace Supercars, I have no issue with them either lining up alongside, or in their own featured class at the same events.

That’s probably where the future of electric motorsport lies – alongside traditional motorsport instead of trying to outright replace it. I know that for me anyway, it makes it a lot easier to embrace an electric future, especially when the future looks like a 600+hp RX car.

Paddy McGrath
Instagram: pmcgphotos
Twitter: pmcgphotos



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What is the range of the car?


Duh.. It depends on how much gas you put in the tank! What is the fixation with range on electric motors? Its the same as gasoline engines. Design the engine to be small and economical, you go further. Design it for brute force, power and torque, and you dont go as far, but have a helluva lot more fun!


My god that’s boring.........they’re never going to be able to replace the Sound & Smell of an internal combustion engine’s like drinking a vintage wine without taste! Go the geeks :(


No one hates electric cars. People hate that they make no distinct audible sound


That is a pretty agreeable statement. I don't really like watching E-races for the fact that there are no sounds and smells or drama in those regards. Of course, I don't like formula E because they are basically real life mario kart and popularity contests, but that is a different story.

But I have told people many times, I don't mid electric cars. In fact I like many of them and like the purpose of a lot of them too. Just can't find any excitement or interest in watching them at the track. Which sucks for fans, but for drivers they can be just as fun as any other car out there. Racers will race anything when it comes down to it. I love racing with sounds and smells. I love being behind the wheel of a fire breathing monster. But man, those indoor electric go-kart places offer up a lot of fun too.


I think you've hot the nail on the head Paddy. If they compete along side traditional motorsport in their own class and performing on their own merit then I see no problem. Motorsport is typically about outright performance and at the end of the day if these are competitive or wind up faster than the internal combustion competition then that may well provide the switch for competitors and or start to generate some acceptance among the public.
Spectators will likely need longer to adjust as I agree the lack of other sensory input can make it feel a bit stale to watch. I actually don't mind the sound of an electric motor being wound up but I want to hear more of it. It's a bit like an old school supercharger! If they can free up some of that sound (instead of trying to make them run silent) I think it could be great. I recall the promo video for the ill fated Morgan EV3 and it accelerating away in the last 10 seconds of the video and it actually sounded great.


I dont get the head stuck in the sand mentality. A motor is a motor. So its quieter. Cry me a river. This thing gives improved weight distribution, improved power application and control, gives just as much or more horsepower and torque than a gasoline engine. As you pointed out, the rest of the car is the same! Its still a car, just different motive power. If you get it wrong, you still end up dead. The only difference is you dont go in a ball of fire. You get a lightning bolt up your ass instead. I appreciate there's always going to be people out there who can't handle anything new. Lets face it, there are still people out there who believe the Earth is flat. Well, if thats your choice, so be it. But the rest of us who embrace more power and torque will be laughing at the other end of the drag strip while your picking pistons out of your teeth...


If you think an electric motor sounds better than an internal combustion, you can't convince me you're not smoking the crack rock.


I don't think you understand the #joyofmachine. I'll give you an example; take a look at an Apple watch and Casio GWB5600BC. Yea, smart watch is better in every way, but that Casio will give 10 years of battery life without charging every night, and is far more tactile and the design is still in style for 25 years. Apple, it's a disposable product.
Yes, EV cars are sick, fast and everything. But why is the 911R Porsche sold out before even made it to the dealer floor?
You can go ahead and enjoy your laughs at the end of drag strip, which nobody really cares about that. There are still people out there enjoy the experience of just being connected to the cars, while your enjoyment is probably just a press of a button on whatever optimized app on your Tesla screen.
I don't dog on EV, or dislike EV at all. Yes, some people can't handle new tech like grandpa, but there are actual genuine people who just enjoy having a good time instead of bragging. I am an engineer working for a tech company in the Silicon Valley of California where the City is flooded with Tesla and you have to be on your toe with the lastest tech and trend to make good product. I still drive a manual slow Subaru STI. At least, my enjoyment is more than just touching a couple items on the touch screen.


It's odd that you went with a watch analogy and then chose a Casio as the example of the tactile one, when mechanical watches exist.


You got me there. A mechanical watch would be a better choice for this analogy. I still think the Casio still can present the modern classic, like the new 2019 STI for example... gone digital a bit, but still a functional item under homo ligation of a classic.


Ah yeah, that's fair enough - though it's still weird that a digital watch like the 5600 is considered to be old-school nowadays (even though they've been around for as long as my AW11 - and in fact came out in the same year my car was built).


You misunderstand me slightly, thats understandable. Its difficult to get a point across clearly in a comments section. The laughing at the end of the drag strip would not be from boasting. Simply from the rush of going that damn fast. and the comment about not understanding joy of machine... well, what if I told you I was building a replica 250 GTO and 287 Cobra in my workshop? Please dont misunderstand, I love gasoline engines! I've worked on them and built them most of my life and I love it and have no regrets at all. I love analog gauges, the feel of the suede steering wheel, the smell of burning rubber and fuel. My point, which I didn't make clear enough, is that its like music. Some love Bach and Vivaldi. Some love rock music from the 1970's. But they restrict themselves when they only love such a narrow range. I completely agree thats its their life and their choice, but its my choice not to understand it when there is SO much other interesting and exciting music in the world that people have created, like jazz, blues, folk, trance, hip hop, etc , etc... Dont get me wrong. I love and appreciate the old classics, cars or music or art. Yes, I listen to Puccini's opera's! But I also enjoy Paul van Dyke and a million other musicians who are alive today. My wish is simply for people not to be so dogmatic about what is correct and acceptable, and broaden their horizons and find that there is enjoyment in many other things too.


ahhh. I get your point now. I misunderstood you a bit. I think we're on the same page here.


An electric race car is honestly pretty cool
The only issue here is that there is no sound nor smell and piped in engine noise won't help


Exactly Basith P.

RB’s music analogy is misleading and incorrect as this relates to preference.... Real cars stimulate all ‘senses’ maybe not taste so much unless you like licking your engine dipstick.


Lol, I believe where the music analogy also falls pretty short is that music actually makes sounds. Electric cars do not.


Same here. Looking at an electric race isn’t my cup of tea. It’s more for people who also like the tactics of racing. The feeling and sensation aren’t there when watching, only with onboard footage. However, personality racing them must be amazing.


In my book, electric Motorsport oriented cars will NEVER be cool or have sex appeal. Im sorry, but GAY!


I think EV will be able to make the connection between 4 tires and wheels and the road and the driver in a different very cool way if that is the goal of the design. I finally got a Honda to rumble and not buzzzz and I can be happy with as little as 90hp at 7000rpm on 5 speeds set low hard and on the right rubber so yes I do like IC. As far as sound and rumble fire thing I think EV may evolve. Electric motors are not all quite and tame. If you push for the lightness and power things start to get interesting kind of like tuning an intake. Even flow is sort of similar, Ive been playing with Pulsing light composite Emotors off capacitors starting with designs that I push until they blow there are patterns that are sort of more like crashing waves, not sure I will make anything practical but someone will so just be a bit open and patient or try some diy model builds for fun. OH I thought I would like toque vectoring more but I havent made it work like I would like not sure why maybe Im just stuck on 2 wheel drive


With torque-vectoring, 4-wheel steering, advanced traction control, etc., the future of motorsport is going to be awesomely fast & furious. It will make our dino-powered cars look like just that—dinosaurs. Exciting times.


I agree and having seen the ID-R absolutely pound it's way up goodwood hill I can attest to the excitement it brings but... that's only because it's breaking records and competing at the absolute top. Sound is possibly the biggest part of being a spectator at a track, knowing what cars are coming by their scream. God help me if I go blind in an electric future.

23 I have this as part of my work playlist, for good reason too.


I'll wait and see what Opel does with their electric rally car.
I'll kinda miss noise and fire there, though.


Electric cars removes the very importance of driving.
The connection of Man and Machine.


How fast it can drain the batteries is a really good question. On gravel stages how much torque do you want. With an E throttle you are sort of making a suggestion to the car on what you want for acceleration or deceleration the cars programming will hopefully pick the right curves/maps matched to the tires grip. I would like to see how it feels, on direct injection turbo with E throttle there are times I have to try and out think the computer and that is the problem I kind of have with torque vectoring.