Rallycross might be the perfect outlet for electric motorsport right now. The rounds are short and the action is fast paced, meaning cars don’t need a lot of range for a ten minute heat race. The instant torque means electric rallycross cars can dig out of the hole in rapid fashion. And while the weight takes a proper hot shoe to control, it’s far less of a detriment in a loose surface series than one that requires grip. All of that is why I’m so excited about STARD’s Projekt E electric Ford Fiesta making its race debut this weekend.
Rallycross ace and former WRC rallyist Manfred Stohl will be the guinea pig strapped into the seat for this EV vs ICE experiment. Ahead of the FIA World RX championship allowing electric racers in its Supercar class for the 2022 season, the STARD car will run this weekend’s round of the Hungarian Rallycross Championship at the Kakucs circuit.
The Fiesta is powered by a trio of electric motors totaling 450kW (about 615 horsepower) shoving forward thrust through all four wheels. That should put the car on more or less equal footing with the conventionally-powered two-liter turbocharged Supercars, which make around 600 horsepower in race trim. The Supercar class features an 11-car grid at this round, so Stohl will have plenty of competition for the race victory.
STARD CEO and lead engineer Michael Sakowicz had this to say about the upcoming race in a discussion with Motorsport.com: “It’s just another session in our extensive and continuous testing program. Our expectations are to collect further data and experience, and to have a great race weekend. It’s the first race event for us at all in this strange year.”
“It’s great that we’re giving an electric rallycross car its first proper debut,” said Sakowicz. “We’ve been pioneers in electric rallycross since 2015. We are not afraid of the challenge to do things no-one has ever done before, that’s why we’re leading the way.”
This car is meant to be a test bed for the upcoming Projekt E series, which will race alongside FIA World RX later this year as a standalone category with spec STARD powertrains. This event in Hungary will mark the first time that an electric rallycross machine has competed in the same event on track at the same time racing for the same trophy as other traditionally-powered cars.
To complicate things, World RX is adding Junior eRX as a third tier below Projekt E in 2021. So by the time 2022 rolls around, there will be three different specifications of electric rallycross car running around the track throughout a World RX weekend. Why is it so hard to get normal people to understand how racing works again? Oh, right.
If you want to see the Projekt E in action, check out this test with Tiff Needell. It’s a pretty astonishing machine, but it doesn’t sound like it’s designed to be directly competitive with FIA Rallycross Supercar classed gas cars. Maybe STARD has some tricks up its sleeve to keep the car competitive. Who knows what will happen. I look forward to seeing the result of this little experiment.