The experimental Nissan ZEOD RC has earned itself a place in the history books by completing the first all-electric lap of Le Mans.
During the warm-up period this morning the hybrid ZEOD RC – Zero Emission On Demand Racing Car – set a lap time of 4m22s with Nissan's Wolfgang Reip, GT Academy 2012 winner, at the wheel.
Yes, that means that it lapped over a minute slower around Circuit de la Sarthe than, say, the Toyota TS040 Hybrid. That would, however, be missing the point; the bigger hybrids, including Audi's R18 e-tron quattro, can't run solely on electric power.
Either way, it was undoubtedly an impressive demonstration of what's possible with hybrid technology – even if, unfortunately, the ZEOD retired not long after the start of the race. Any new technology is prone to the odd teething problem, mind, even more so under racing conditions.
Some may question the ongoing hybridisation and electrification of racing cars though, with concerns about the loss of audible drama, visual fireworks and outright theatre that the primarily internal combustion-based rivals revel in.
Is electrification of a motorsport something to fear, though? Based on my personal experience, no. While there is undoubtedly something very different about electric cars, they do have their own unique appeal.
Last year, for example, I was fortunate enough to drive a prototype of the Audi R8 e-tron, an all-electric version of Audi's flagship sports car. I was curious to see if the car still felt as spectacular without a V8 or a V10 pounding away over my shoulder.
Much to my surprise, however, the R8 didn't lose much in the way of theatre following the deletion of its petrol-powered engine. The hum of the electric motors, the low-speed synthesised noise, and the whine of the gearboxes, all worked together to create something that was just as interesting to drive.
The howl of the tyres, a noise made much more prominent by comparative silence of the EV drivetrain, made you feel more conscious of what was going on underneath too. Something lost, something gained.
Watching the R8 e-trons tear around the track from outside proved similarly involving, with the more noticeable scream of tyres being punished really demonstrating which cars were being pushed to the limits. They were also fast, and watching one fire itself away from a corner at a vast rate of knots in with a Trek-like hum never failed to put a smile on the spectator's faces.