The first-ever all-electric rallycross series the Projekt E made its racing debut this weekend at Höljes in Sweden – running as a support class with the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship.
The cars are powered by an all-electric ‘REVelution‘ powertrain that produces 450kW (612bhp) and 1002Nm of torque from three motors, and developed and manufactured by the series founder STARD.
Only three cars line up for the opening-round, all of them are the STARD’s own Ford Fiesta ERX. There are other teams that were due to be taking part but due to the ongoing pandemic and travel restrictions, couldn’t take part this weekend, this includes the Citroën works driver Mads Østberg who would have debuted the new Citroën C3 ERX car.
The drivers entered for the weekend are the Gymkhana, rally, rallycross & YouTube star Ken Block, the former British rally driver Natalie Barrett and two-time Austrian rally champion Hermann Neubauer.
Before the weekend the drivers had the chance to take their cars out for a few laps of Höljes, Block said the times he was setting would only be a second and a half at most off of the 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship front-runners.
Free practice started this morning with a very wet surface and the drivers seemed to struggle to adapt themselves in the conditions. While they were off the pace is practice due to the weather they had some luck on their side as they headed in to the first race with a dry track.
As the lights went green the battle began between Neubauer and Block as they headed towards the first corner. Heading over the crest Block was spun around by Neubauer which saw all three cars scatter, Neubauer and Barrett continued as Block gathered himself after spinning on the edge of the gravel trap.
Neubauer crossed the line to claim the first-ever Projekt E heat win but the stewards later revealed he would receive a 30 seconds penalty for the move on Block, so the first qualifying went in Block’s favour.
In between the semi-final and the final for World RX, it was time for their second qualifying race for Projekt E, once again it was between Neubauer and Block to battle it out on the opening-lap, Barrett has still some learning to do to get used to the car, teamed with it being her first race start in sixteen years.
Neubauer was leading the whole race but Block made the biggest story of the day as when he went in the downhill section, he nudged the armco which then hook the car into a spin, similar to what happened to Thomas Bryntesson at the RallyX Nordic’s All-Star ‘Magic Weekend’, but Block managed to save his car from rolling over and was fast to get back in to the race.
Neubauer got redemption after the opening race misfortune to claim the race win, but the overnight top qualifier is Block.
Tomorrow the second day starts with the remainder of their race weekend, where also the first Projekt E round winner will be crowned.