Racing car gets Lycra makeover

Westfield Sportscars has showcased its iRacer – an all-electric race car destined to take part in the world’s first ’one-make electric race-car series’ – at the Geneva motor show.

The bodywork uses a range of materials, including composites, aluminium, recyclable plastics and, most notably, a stretched lycra skin over an aluminium framework to create a lightweight, aerodynamically efficient and low-cost body.

Project manager Paul Faithfull commented: ’The use of materials such as fabrics has limited scope for road use, but has major benefits for racing. Imagine being able to change your bodywork in a matter of minutes, with a new body stretched over the framework, changing the colour, sponsors or just effecting rapid repairs. It is also extremely light compared to almost all alternative materials.’

The iRacer has been developed by Westfield Sportscars in conjunction with project partners Potenza Technology, Delta Motorsport, RDM Automotive and Coventry University, following funding from Regional Development Agency Advantage West Midlands.

Operational trials are currently underway in the West Midlands on a development vehicle that uses two 40kW electric YASA motors (with a peak power output equivalent to 200bhp) delivering 1,000Nm of torque. The motors are sited in place of the differential, removing the requirement for a gearbox and propshaft, and provide direct drive to each of the rear wheels.

A battery pack, incorporating up to 11 48V sealed Lithium Ion Phosphate units, uses a modular design that not only meets safety standards but contributes to handling by lowering the vehicle’s centre of gravity. Under race conditions the operational range is anticipated to be 50-60 miles.

Developments scheduled for 2010 include wind-tunnel tuning of the new bodywork and the addition of a noise-generation system to give the iRacer aural drama to match its looks and performance.

This year the iRacer will appear at a number of demonstration events prior to its participation in the one-make electric race-car series in 2011.