Wednesday, 08 August 2018 10:03

Targa EV.JPG

Western Australia stands to reap huge benefits from the global transition to electric drive trains and renewable energy storage, through its large natural resources of key raw materials required to produce rechargeable batteries.

The global wave of electrification has seen commitments in production by all major auto-manufacturers, from small passenger vehicles to delivery vans, rubbish trucks and buses.

Global Motorsport has seen a similar shift, with records at venues like Nuerburgring, Pikes Peak and Lemans being set by electric & hybrid vehicles, and manufacturers realising that electric motors offer a completely new level of performance. Battery technology is catching up at an exponential rate and companies like Tesla are already selling road legal cars which can achieve straight line acceleration of 0-100km/h in 2.7 seconds.

Make Smoking History Targa West has featured electric competitors since 2016, being one of the first FIA regulated tarmac events in the world to field electric vehicles. CAMS regulations were specifically updated for electric vehicles and an extensive safety training program in conjunction with the Motor Trades Association of WA was held with management & emergency response groups, including upgrading of necessary electrical safety & PPE equipment for ER crews.

This year, Jurgen & Helen Lunsmann are competing in the Challenge Category (for unmodified, road legal cars) in a 2011 Tesla Roadster.

The Tesla Roadster is a UK (Lotus) built model, prior to Tesla moving production to California and one of only 55 RHD units built from a total of 2500. It has a 0-100km/h acceleration of 3.8 seconds and weighs 1250 kg. Due to its weight and aerodynamic design (and being of typical Lotus racing pedigree), it handles well on a track. And it’s the first production car in Space. While newer model such as the Tesla Model S P100D can achieve acceleration of 0-100 km/h in 2.7 seconds, they weigh close to 2 tonnes, and struggle with consistent breaking and cornering under race conditions.

The challenge for electric cars is completely different to their petrol competitors – range, recharging speeds, mobile recharging, battery & motor heat are all issues which are multiplied under race conditions and largely untested. Gemtek eMotorsport, (owners of the Roadster), apply the data gained from the Targa West entries to further improve and develop charging equipment.

Dedicated Electric Motorsport Events beginning in other parts of the world later this year such as the Jaguar I-Pace Cup and the Electric GT feature single manufacturer line-ups, which compete in formatsEVSPORTdesigned to accommodate the cars’ performance range. Jurgen & Helen and the team from Gemtek eMotorsport however, face a field of petrol performance cars, including a Lotus, Porsche and Holden V8.

MTA Tesla Gemtek.JPG

Make Smoking History Targa West is an FIA/CAMS event held since 2005, and is considered one of South East Asia’s premier tarmac road races through the beautiful scenery of Perth and surrounds. In the format of the world’s first car race, the Targa Florio, held in 1906 in Sicily, the race uses closed public roads and follows a route of almost 800 km over 4 days. It’s a unique format which allows the comparison of real cars on real roads – and allows spectators to get up close to the action, from farm gates, to the Malaga town stage, to the Langley Park Super Stage which draws thousands of people to the Perth foreshore every year.

The challenge of completing the distance is gigantic. Few Electric Vehicles have managed to complete races designed for petrol cars, due to the distances covered and high stress batteries are placed under. Add to this a completely different driver experience, without the usual gear change and motor sound, and a modified calling system for the Co-Driver to compensate.

Both Jurgen and Helen have distinguished motorsport records in Western Australia. Starting her competitive career in 2010, Helen has Co-Driven a Mitsubishi Evo to first place for the past 3 years at Targa West. Jurgen has set the fastest time in his category on numerous occasions, and has taught hundreds of motorsport drivers in Western Australia, as former Senior Performance Driving Instructor at the (now closed) RAC Driver Education & Training Centre in Belmont. Ironically, the centre was closed due to noise restrictions (albeit extensive public campaigns to save it), now that the Lunsmanns have switched to a silent car.

Gemtek eMotorsport aim to complete all stages of this year’s event to further improve charging & service equipment, as well as collect further data to guide upgrades to the Roadster for the 2019 Targa Cup Season. Plans include upgrades to the cars battery, cooling and charging system.

With cars such as the Jaguar I-Pace coming to Australia later this year, the Porsche Taycan due in 2019, and the Tesla Roadster 2.0 (0-100km/h acceleration of 1.8 seconds) arriving in 2020, the world of tarmac Motorsport will see more records tumble and road legal cars achieving acceleration nudging the Formula 1.

It is an exciting new era and Make Smoking History Targa West remains one of the few FIA events in the world to actively field electric competitors as part of the line-up and encourages new teams and manufacturers to test their cars on the challenging stages, with established mobile charging infrastructure & regulations.

In the words of Gemtek eMotorsport Director, Florian Popp: “There is no test, like Targa West”.

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