On 25 June, former British science minister Lord Drayson will attempt to become Britain’s latest world speed record holder – but it’s a big ask, and an intimidating challenge, even though the record he’s aiming at has stood for almost 40 years.
Drayson’s target is the world land speed record for four-wheeled electric vehicles weighing less than 1000kg. The current mark of 280km/h was set in the United States in 1974 by Battery Box General Electric.
He’ll be driving a low-drag version of his B12 69/EV Le Mans Prototype electric racing car, which started life as a Lola chassis with a V10 Judd engine running on bio-fuel, and was successfully raced in sports car championships around the world before being converted to battery power.
It’s normally powered by four 160kW Axial Flux Motors, two directly driving each rear wheel and a 30kWh battery in a carbon-fibre battery cell, integrated into the chassis to become a structural component, and weighs 1095kg in Le Mans trim.
MAXIMUM TRACTION REQUIRED
For the record attempt, however, it’s been fitted with low-drag bodywork, lighter, 120kW motors and a 20kWh battery to bring the weight under 1000kg, and the chassis has been set up for maximum traction.
That’s because the run will be made, not on the wide open spaces of Bonneville, Pendine or Hakskeenpan, but on the main runway of RAF Elvington in Yorkshire (where Top Gear’s Richard Hammond nearly killed himself crashing a rocket car) which is less than 3000 metres long.
Drayson commented: “The big deal is not the outright speed, it’s the challenge of accelerating a 1000kg electric car to more than 280km/h, holding that speed over a measured 1600 metres and stopping it safely, all in less than 3000 metres.
“And then we have to turn it around and do it again in the other direction, in less than an hour. It’s a tremendous technical challenge but we believe it’s about time someone moved this record on to show just how far electric-vehicle technology has come.”
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