Testing the Model S P85D
First there was Formula E, the electric version of Fomula One, and now there is Electric GT coming, the electric version of the GT race series. At the moment theyâ€™re sorting out the accreditation issues with the FIA, but weâ€™re expecting the first race next summer.
On pole position will be a Tesla Model S P100D and the winner will be a Tesla Model S P100D. Thatâ€™s not because itâ€™s a fix but because the entire grid will be made up of 20 virtually identical cars. But, while this might start as a one-make series, it probably wonâ€™t be too long before other manufacturers want a slice of the glory â€“ a Porsche Mission E might put the cat among the pigeons for starters.
So far only one team has signed up: SPV Racing. The team reckons Tesla has such a head start that it will take other manufacturers several seasons to be as competitive as the Tesla already is. Even so, this isnâ€™t a car or a series that feels fully ready yet.
We tested a lower-powered version on the circuit in Pau in France, and it came with rain tyres. On a lovely sunny day. After only a handful of laps the brakes started to wilt and you could feel the batteries losing charge and the performance starting to fade. Even so there is a surprisingly competent race car under there. The handling was incredibly controlled and taut, really solid, and nothing like a road-going Tesla.
The twin-motor 100kWh powertrain will deliver 778bhp which gives it time to 60mph off the grid of 2.1 seconds. There are race-spec suspension and brakes under the carbonfibre bodywork, with wider tracks front and rear. The development work is mainly being done by the Spanish outfit Campos Racing, which has experience in Formula E. Theyâ€™ve removed between 300kg and 500kg from the road car weight and are moving the development forward as fast as possible.
Even so, the cars will only have about 50 miles of full-bore range before they start to fade so pit stops or car swaps seem likely. Right now this doesnâ€™t feel like a car or a series that is ready to race. But another six months of development work will doubtless move things forward significantly.
Whether the fans or manufacturers fully embrace Electric GT remains to be seen, but since racing always improves the breed, weâ€™re all likely to be winners, along with Tesla of course.