Driver

Mikkelsen: World RX’s electric future 'on another level'

Friday 7th of May 2021

Andreas Mikkelsen got his first taste of the future of the FIA World Rallycross Championship recently when he was invited to try out the RX1e ‘mule’ car that will form the basis of the series’ headlining class from 2022 – with the Norwegian describing the experience as ‘just brutal’ and ‘on another level’.

 

Incorporating two motors – one on each axle – two inverters and a 52.65kWh battery with an innovative cooling system, the RX1e mule car develops 500kW (equivalent to 680bhp) and greater torque than existing internal combustion-engined (ICE) Supercars.

 

That has resulted in enhanced performance across the board, and former factory Volkswagen FIA World Rally Championship driver Mikkelsen – three times a top three finisher in the overall WRC standings and no stranger to powerful machinery – was certainly impressed.

 

“It’s brutal, just pure brutality,” commented the 31-year-old. “I’ve never driven a car with this much power before. Compared to a WRC car, it’s on another level. The instant power you have and how fast things approach is absolutely insane.

 

 

“The acceleration and the feeling you get, you’re just squeezed into the seat and with the sound the car produces as well, it’s a little bit like Star Wars. When you can get it as powerful and as fun to drive as this, it gives you a special feeling.

 

“For sure, the future is in electric vehicles. Obviously I think noise is still really important to have for the fans, but what they have made here – that Star Wars-like, futuristic feeling – is also very, very nice. When you’re sitting in the car, you can really hear the sound. Overall, it was a really cool experience.”

 

Integrating an electrification kit supplied by Austria’s Kreisel Electric, the RX1e mule car’s battery has been specially designed for optimum weight distribution with unique safety features, while the overall weight has been carefully restricted to 1,330kg. The kit can be retro-fitted to existing ICE World RX Supercars or built into an all-new chassis. 

 

Joining Mikkelsen for the test day at Austrian rallycross circuit Horn-Fuglau was Kenneth Hansen, the most successful driver in the discipline’s history. With 14 European Championship titles to his name, the Swede – whose elder son Timmy won the World Championship in 2019 for the family-run Team Hansen outfit – has an innate understanding of the sport and based upon his run in the car, he is excited for the future.

           

“It’s been some time since I was in a Supercar and I was curious to experience this new era of cars with electric technology,” revealed Hansen, who claimed his first Supercar win in his first start in the class at Horn-Fuglau almost 30 years ago. “It felt like being back in my first time in a Supercar and I must say, I was really impressed. There’s such great driveability in this car – it’s fantastic.

 

“Inside the car, there’s definitely noise and a lot of emotions, so there’s no difference on that front. From the outside, it’s different for sure, but it’s not quiet so there will still be sound – and as long as we have good fights and good drivers, I’m quite sure the show will be on.

 

“At the end of the day, we need to take care of our planet. I’m not saying this is the solution, but it is a step in the right direction. It’s a new era.”

 

“Our vision is actually quite simple,” added Arne Dirks, Executive Director of Rallycross Promoter. “Alongside traditional markets, we really want to enter new markets such as the US and China, for example, but also we want to have different formats. We would like to race on ice, we would like to have night races and we would like to go to urban environments. Ultimately, we want to be the world’s greatest and most sustainable, spectacular and electrified series for production-based cars.”

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