Two rallying amateurs will enter the motor sport record books in June as the crew of the world’s first petrol/electric hybrid rally car. Londoners, Nik Berg (32) and Tim Bampton (33) will compete in a Toyota Prius, the world’s first mass production petrol/electric hybrid car, on a three week, 8,000km marathon rally from the north of Sweden to the shores of the Red Sea in Jordan.
The event, known as The Midnight Sun to Red Sea Rally, is sanctioned by motor sport’s governing body, the FIA, making Prius the first hybrid car ever to enter an officially recognised motor sport event.
A 72 Din hp, 1.5-litre petrol engine and a 33kW electric motor power the Prius. The battery for the electric motor is continuously charged by both the petrol engine and by regenerative braking so the car requires no external charging. Capable of 160km/h and 0-100km/h in 13.4 seconds, yet producing just 120g/km of CO2, the rally Prius will run in the Group N (showroom) class.
The challenge of turning a fuel-efficient family car – specifically a three year old version which has previously earned its keep as a demonstrator for fleet customers and government officials – was handed over to Silverstone based race and rally preparation experts, Roger Dowson Engineering.
Even with two motors it won’t be the fastest car in the rally, but the aim is reliability and reaching the finish in Jordan. This is a world first for this type of vehicle and the rally itself will be the toughest test yet of this new technology, so just to finish will be a victory in itself, explained Nik.