Mitsubishi Motors’ iMiEV Evolution III all-electric racecars (earlier post) took first and second place in the the Electric Modified Division of the 2014 edition of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. With a time of 9 minutes 08 seconds 188, Greg Tracy won the Electric Modified Division honors and 2nd overall—just a few seconds shy of taking the overall win. Meanwhile, Hiroshi Masuoka set a time of 9 minutes 12 seconds 204, finishing 2nd in the division and 3rd overall.
The MiEV Evolution III racecar is an improved and evolved version of last year’s MiEV Evolution II. Main components—including the 50 kWh battery from Lithium Energy Japan, high-output electric motor and electric-powered 4WD consisting of four Meidensha electric motors—were retained with improvements made to give better motive and cornering performance. To reduce weight in the pipe-frame chassis, the design has rationalized and some structural materials have been replaced.
Downforce was increased with a new carbon cowl design and with wind-tunnel optimization of the spoiler and other detail shapes. Evolutionary development of the S-AWC integrated vehicle dynamics control system has improved traction control performance and has reduced wheel slip by controlling vehicle attitude more precisely when near the limit of adhesion.
We were just shy of 2.5 seconds from the overall winner who had an internal combustion engine, but this shows the vast possibilities of electric vehicles in the future moving forward. One of the key elements that played a big role for our result today was S-AWC (Super-All Wheel Control) which is an sophisticated vehicle stability control system. The S-AWC system will monitor the vehicle dynamic attitude and control the torque of each wheel independently, and while this provides advanced safety performance for normal driving on streets, it also aided our drivers to be able to control the vehicle at the limit by using it as an additional tool for them in motorsports form.
Also, by our participation in this race, we were able to gather various data on combining the electric and S-AWC system to utilize towards development on future production models, and our ultimate goal is to use this information to manufacture vehicles that has highest safety technology.—Chief Engineer Yasuo Tanaka
The race starts at an elevation of 2,862 meters and takes competitors through 156 corners on a 20 km course to the finish on the 4,301 meter summit of Pikes Peak. With an elevation difference of 1,439 meters, atmospheric pressure, temperature, weather and other conditions vary significantly between the start and finish. A feature of the race course is that it is split into three major sections: Bottom at the foot of the mountain, Middle and then Upper near the summit.
The Bottom section starts with its rhythmical series of mid- to high-speed corners but all of a sudden the drivers hit a series of much tighter and difficult turns which demand the utmost care and concentration.
The Middle section is a very technical section as shortly after the start a series of tight hairpin bends demand precise handling as the car races along the steeply ascending road.
The Upper section is a very high-speed course taking competitors through many fast corners between craggy rocks and boulders. With little guard railing at the side of the road, this very difficult section brings with it the risk of plunging over the edge should the car slide off the tarmac. This is why the highest levels of vehicle stability are required over the high-speed parts of the section.
At 4,301 meters, the mountain summit is higher than Mt. Fuji and the thin air means that cars powered by internal combustion engines lose power the higher up they go. Electrically powered cars, however, are unaffected by the thin air and so this could prove the key section in setting a really fast overall race time.
I am extremely happy to be able to deliver this Electric Modified class victory to Mitsubishi Motors. The road surface condition today was rather slippery but the S-AWC had eliminated any unnecessary drift of the car, and I was able to attack turns all the way to the top with full confidence. One thing that I am disappointed about from my run is that I was a little too aggressive under the braking in some turns. Therefore, the brakes started to fade a little bit towards the end, and due to pounding from hard braking, I think I lost some time at the top. I am a bit gutted since if it wasn’t for this, I think we really had a good shot at winning the overall as well.—Greg Tracy