Few people in off-road motorsport know more about electrifying rally cars than Manfred Stohl. The Austrian is the driving force behind the World Rallycross Championship’s Projekt E category for electric rallycross cars, but when DirtFish asked his opinion of a similar idea for the World Rally Championship, the answer was surprising.
At a time when the WRC is working towards a hybrid solution for 2022, Stohl can see a way to make fully electric cars work at rallying’s highest level.
With 127 starts and six WRC podiums to his name, Stohl knows his stuff when it comes to rallying. And anybody who’s watched his Ford Fiesta ELECTRX in action is aware of that – via his STARD (Stohl Advanced Research and Development) firm – he’s definitely onto something when it comes to making cars go quickly with no internal combustion required.
But could an all-electric World Rally Car (Rally1 in new money) make it through a round of the world championship?
“There would need to be some changes to the infrastructure on the event,” Stohl reckons.
“The road sections would need to be altered slightly to include some charging stations along the way – but you know we are only going to be stopping for five or six minutes, maximum 10, and then the cars will be fully charged and ready to go again.
“It would be possible to make an electric World Rally Championship and it would be possible now. We have done this on some Austrian national rounds, yes it’s possible.”
Stohl’s own Fiesta ELECTRX will make its competitive debut at a round of the Hungarian Rallycross Championship this weekend, where it will run against internal combustion Supercar competition for the first time.
The electric kit STARD has produced for rallycross offers 450kW (just north of 600bhp) and 811 lb ft torque.
High-performance electric rallying is gathering serious pace and momentum of its own right now, with Hayden Paddon’s Hyundai Kona EV expected to begin testing in the coming weeks.
Paddon, who has collaborated with STARD on his car, told DirtFish: “The plan is to show the car and show what an EV rally car like this can do. We’ll do a series of promotional events, run it at superspecials and basically show around the world what Kiwi ingenuity is all about. There is a lot of very cool, new thinking that has gone into this car which has been 18 months in the making.”