Hybrid Honda Insight too fast for U.K.'s Formula 1000 RallyThu, 30 Jun 2011
It's a fact of racing--cars get disqualified. The vehicle in question might be too light or too powerful, leading to an unfair advantage.
But being too fast while sticking to series guidelines? That's just awesome.
So goes the tale of the U.K.'s OakTec rally team that has been asked to leave Formula 1000 Rally Club events--and the team campaigns a hybrid Honda Insight!
The 100-mpg (when driven slowly) ride captured two first-place finishes and a second-place this season. Now, organizers have asked OakTec to move up a class.
OakTec boss Paul Andrews said he was surprised.
"It was a bit of a shock when I got the call, as after six years we finally had our chance at a bit of glory," Andrews said. "But I fully understand the perspective of the organizers and their wish not to spoil the sport for other drivers.
"It's a shame that it had to happen midseason, but it's the risk you face going against the grain and trying something radical. If it fails, no one notices. If it's successful, you have an unfair advantage."
According to the rules, the car has to be 1,000 cc or less, with no form of sequential gearbox. It has to run on pump gasoline. Cars can be boosted with a turbocharger or a supercharger, and tires and suspension must conform.
OakTec followed those rules, but the organizers do reserve the right to make changes based on season events. The organizers asked, and OakTec complied.
The hybrid Honda Insight is a technical marvel, with a high-strength, lightweight aluminum body and one of the lowest coefficients of drag in the industry. OakTec partnered with Lotus Engineering for the car, which currently has a curb weight of just 1,829 pounds. More powerful batteries were added, and the hybrid system was tuned to recover more energy during deceleration and give more power when taking off. The car uses a continuously variable transmission and runs on E85 fuel.
OakTec doesn't know where to go next, Andrews said. The Super 1000 class is for all-out race cars, with which the Insight could never compete. One possible option is for OakTec to develop its Civic hybrid into an open-class car. Either way, we'll be watching.
By Jake Lingeman