STARD, based near Vienna, Austria, is a company familiar with making history in the alternative technology motorsport arena. But, on Sunday July 12, together with rally star Manfred Stohl, STARD made its biggest entry into the history books yet by claiming the first ever victory for a rallycross car using a fully-electric powertrain.
Under the leadership of Stohl Group President Manfred Stohl and STARD CEO Michael Sakowicz, for almost 10 years STARD has been working on the development of its unique electric motorsport powertrain. It first launched an electric rally and rallycross prototype five years ago codenamed HIPER, and won test events.
Constantly intensify its activity around EV powertrain technology in the following years, last September in Latvia the most advanced electric rallycross car ever was revealed to the public at the FIA World Rallycross Championship event in Riga, using STARDs REVelution powertrain system for the new Projekt E electric rallycross series within World RX, that will start this year.
The REVelution electric kit for Projekt E produces 450kW (613bhp) combined power, 1000Nm of instantaneous torque with a top speed of 240km/h from three high performance road car electric motors, using a four-wheel drive system and two-speed transmission.
Last weekend at the Kakucs circuit in Hungary, in a round of the Hungarian Rallycross Championship, STARD ran a Ford Fiesta ElectRX, the debut appearance for a fully-electric rallycross car in its intended environment.
STARD’s plan for the event was only to validate its systems, using data gained from test sessions, ahead of the 2020 Projekt E season. However, even without optimizing the setup of the in-house developed chassis, or using any new tyres during the weekend, from the second Free Practice session it was clear that Manfred Stohl and the Fiesta ElectRX had a chance of fighting for victory.
The team continued to work through its test programme during the weekend, the event held in extremely hot conditions, but Stohl set a fastest time in one of the three qualifying sessions, won his semi-final then wrote another chapter in the history of electric motor sport by scoring victory in the final, after a very close and fair fight with Hungarian rallycross star Tamas Karai, driving an ICE [internal combustion engine] 600bhp Supercar.
“Since the launch of the first car using our REVelution concept in Riga last year, our engineers have continued to refine and optimise the functionality of the powertrain systems especially with regards to user friendliness. My main target at Kakucs was to validate and sign off the final changes in a real race weekend and competition circumstances from a driver’s point of view. We didn’t focus at all on the chassis performance for this race. But, thanks to the countless independent professional race drivers who have tested the car since September last year and given their input, the drivability of the powertrain system is from another planet, honestly. This car is so much improved over our first demonstration and development car from back in 2015. Driving this Fiesta ElectRX gives me more pleasure than any other car before and it was amazing for me to be back on the top step of the podium, together with this car. We made history in Hungary, and the win is really thanks to our team, to all of the guys that have worked on this project so hard. I must also say a big thanks to the Hungarian Motor Sport Federation (MNASZ) for the possibility to compete with this car at national level, their support has been brilliant,” said Manfred Stohl, Stohl Group President and Development Driver.
“It was special to be back racing after this very strange period for the whole world in 2020, and our Fiesta ElectRX was received very positively in the paddock by other teams and spectators. We went there to validate our even recent work, and the result was the icing on the cake. We are all involved in developing this concept with a huge passion and belief, and that we could write more history is very sweet. In this real-life test, even in very hot conditions of over 35 degrees everything functioned absolutely perfectly which makes both me and Manfred very happy and proud of the whole team. The fact that the entire battery system, electronics, and software of the VCU (Vehicle Control Unit) are entirely developed in house is a key element, highlighting that we can turn around big projects like this efficiently and successfully,” said Michael Sakowicz, STARD CEO and founder.