What goes at 200kph and is brown on the outside and green on the inside? The latest range of rally cars as seen in this weekend’s Wales Rally GB.
The fast-paced adrenaline-fueled world of rally driving may not be the first to spring into mind when you think of energy efficient sports. Hurtling around the countryside at breakneck speeds requires a car to be responsive, robust and – above all – fast.
With all of these conflicting demands on one vehicle, you might think that there would be no room for reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, but this arm of motorsport is said to be fighting back with technologically advanced engines and more impressive energy saving ideas in the pipeline too.
This weekend was certainly a triumph for Ford’s motorsport team as their newly unveiled turbocharged Fiesta with EcoBoost engine occupied the winner’s podium for the Wales stage of the World Rally Championship (WRC).
Borrowing technology originally developed for their road car market, the Fiesta RS WRC features a 1600cc 300bhp engine which aims to burn fuel in the most efficient way possible, limiting the nasty fumes that it spits out as the rally drivers put their foot down.
This is not only good news for the environment at large but it’s also great for the teams as spiking fuel prices hit the sport head on. Win-win! With many car makers bowing out due to the rising costs associated with the sport, those that remain are naturally looking for ways to slash their budgets.
The sport is constantly evolving and Ford isn’t the first motorsport team to make inroads in improving their engine efficiency. Honda, for example, has developed a hybrid rally car which has achieved up to an amazing 98.9mpg. The regulators have also set the standard by reducing engines from 2.0-litre to 1.6-litre. And this is just the start.
Malcolm Wright, Ford WRC boss, predicts that rallying will lead the way to a more energy efficient family of eco motorsports that will champion hybrid and smaller, but equally powerful, engines. I’ve seen predictions suggesting that hybrid technology will be coming into the series for around 2015, which could be fantastic for raising the profile of hybrid cars as well as reducing the sport’s carbon footprint.
There’s no doubt that driving is a huge contributor to our carbon emissions but with the advances being made, it may be becoming a slightly more virtuous sport to follow.
If any of this fast-paced greener motoring has piqued your interest, we have a wealth of information on cleaner fuels which you can peruse at your own speed.