Lord Paul Drayson, the former Cabinet minister turned endurance racer, has announced a shock bid to break the British and world land speed records for electric cars at Elvington airfield, Yorkshire, on 25 June.
Driving his own Drayson B12 69/EV, Lord Drayson aims to exceed 200mph on Elvington’s 1.86-mile runway, shattering both the FIA-sanctioned British mark for electric vehicles under 1000kg of 151.6mph, set last September, and the world mark of 175mph that has stood for nearly 40 years.
On such a short course, Lord Drayson says, the technical challenges of managing his car’s heat and aerodynamics are enormous. FIA-backed record speeds are averaged over a measured mile, which, on a 1.86-mile runway, leaves the car just 0.4 miles to accelerate and brake at either end of the measured mile.
The record-bid car, developed and run by Drayson Racing Technologies (DRT) at a base in Kidlington, Oxfordshire, is recognisable as the Lola-Judd biofuelled Le Mans prototype that the team has previously raced. But it has since been fitted with a new, DRT-developed electric powertrain.
Drayson describes the car as “a racing laboratory” and believes that comparing its performance in V10 and EV guises will provide vital know-how for the future.
The powertrain consists of a 30kWh, DRT-built battery encased in a carbonfibre cell and mounted in place of the old V10 so that it forms part of the chassis structure. There are four electric drive motors, two for each rear wheel, mounted where the gearbox once lived.
There is no mechanical differential; traction control and torque vectoring controls are provided by DRT’s own-design power electronics.
As an EV, with the equivalent of about 800bhp on tap and prodigious torque from standstill, the car accelerates from 0-100mph in just over five seconds.
For the quick stops needed at Elvington, it retains the carbon-ceramic discs and six-pot calipers from its previous life as an endurance racer, but its power electronics have been tuned for rapid acceleration and its aerodynamics for low drag with high stability.