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FIA Responds Positively to Oaktec E85 Hybrid Rally Car

The Oaktec Honda Insight E85 Rally Car.

Paul Andrews and Bill Meeson, partners in the UK’s Energy Efficient Motorsport (EEMS)-supported Oaktec Honda Insight E85 hybrid rally car project, met with the Federation Internationale de L’Automobile (FIA) Alternative Energies Commission in Paris last week to discuss their car’s energy savings, the control of the regenerative system, energy storage ideas and the continuously variable transmission (CVT).

The FIA represents the interests of motoring organizations throughout the world, and is also the governing body of worldwide motorsport. One of the FIA’s tasks is to encourage governments to deploy the technologies that will make cars safer, cleaner and more reliable.

Oaktec had taken a Honda Insight, which has the lowest CO2 emissions of any production car (85 g/km) and converted it to run on an 85% ethanol blend (E85). The Oaktec Honda Insight won its class in the 2006 Formula 1000 Rally Series, running against conventional non-hybrid gasoline-fueled cars.

Oaktec is now working with the International Automotive Research Centre at Warwick University to further the performance of the car through more effective recycling of wasted energy and further unlocking the performance potential of renewable fuels.

This project would have less significance if we cheated with the emissions and vehicle efficiency. It would be very easy to get more horsepower from the lightweight 3 cylinder Insight engine by running richer mixtures at higher revs and removing the catalytic converters, but this would destroy the CO2 emissions record of the car which are currently the lowest recorded by a UK market production car at 85g/km. We believe our car to be even below this figure when using the bioethanol fuel blend and we will be doing tests to prove this soon.

—Paul Andrews

At the FIA meeting, Rob Oldaker and Janice Minton represented the EEMS initiative of the UK Government run through Motorsport Development UK, and discussed other projects in sustainable technology within UK motorsport, some of which also receive EEMS support.

We would like to thank Oaktec and EEMS for their interesting presentation during our meeting. We feel that we not only share common goals but we have a good possibility of co-operation in this field, which is certainly a part of the future of motorsport activity. We will be in touch about the FIA Alternative Energies Cup events, as well as discussing our own hybrid vehicle work.

—Bruno Moretti, President of the FIA Alternative Energies Commission



I understand the E85, but does the fact that it's a hybrid really make a difference for a race car? I mean it's not like it's ever stopped other than at the start line, and it's not like it's ever accelerating slow enough that it's able to run off just electric power. So does it being a hybrid really matter?


You have got to start somewhere.


There are many types of racing - this is a rally car, so it's job really isn't to go around on the closed track.

I only did a road rally once - many years ago, but the one I did was done in regular cars on open roads. We were given precise instructions on where to go and how fast to drive, and we were timed as we reached each checkpoint. At no point were we required to exceed the speed limit or break any traffic laws.

At the end, the person who won was the one who came in closest to an official time that you would of obtained had you followed the instructions precisely. Arriving at the finish line first would probably have gotten us a poor finishing position in fact.

All this being said, the E85 nonsense doesn't impress me at all. Lots of folks are jumping on this bandwagon in the hopes that it will allow us to continue with life as usual for a few more years. Eventually people will come to realize that this is a dead end.



It sounds like I have been rally racing to work all these years and I didn't even know it! If I make it on time I don't have to fill out any paperwork.

I can't wait to tell the ladies that I am on the rally race circuit....




Don't confuse this with WRC (world rally championship) done in 600hp all-wheel drive sub 2500lb vehicles screaming by on gravel roads.

BTW- Other than drag racing an oval track racing brakes/braking is an ESSENTIAL part of any race. The ability to shed speed quickly allows you to maintain speed longer before you go into a turn. Then the ability to accelerate quickly when coming out of the turn is required.

Formula 1000 is for cars with 1000cc engines or smaller.


"drag racing an oval track racing" should be "drag racing AND oval track racing.

I wish there were an edit feature.


Hi All,

Rally cars tend to burn up brakes, especially front wheel drive rally cars. There were pictures of a Saab some years ago dashing through the woods with glowing red front rotors.

The hybrid electric braking could provide some relief to the mechanical brake systems in Rally service.

Of course energy recovered in braking can be used for accelleration, and electric motors are superior at low speed acceleration (the main acceleration regime for rally driving) than piston engines.

Whether the Insight is a good car for Rally driving, that is a question. But the applicability of hybrid drive to Rally Racing is technically apparent.


Have any of you guys seen the ethanol advertising crap that's been hitting the TV here. According to these adds, its OK to run a monster SUV as long as it's flex fuel. They make no reference to the fact that virtually none of the ethanol sold here is cellulosic.


Whether they state cellulosic or not...they would have to have a 10 minute infomercial to follow it up with so the general populace understands what the difference is.

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