September 25th 2006-With Audi’s recent diesel victory, it seems like 2005 may have been the last gasoline-powered win at LeMans. This observation is even further reinforced with the introduction of the Vemac RD408-H, one of the world’s first hybrid racing cars.
What makes the RD408-H interesting is its hybrid electric/gasoline engine which was developed by Tokyo R&D. It mates the current Mugen MF408S V8 to twin Pues liquid-cooled, direct current, electric engines. These form a compact unit that is sandwitched between the V8 and upgraded transmission. As a result, the V8’s power is doubled and the available torque rasies to 686 ft lbs (930 nm)!@
The first car to be equipped with a Mugen hybrid engine is a Vemac RD408 which might contest the upcoming 2007 season of the GT300 category in Japan’s Super GT series, that is, if the officials let it pass scrutinizing. Four similar Tokyo R&D Vemacs have raced the series for the last two years, albeit with the standard MF408S engine and the CB32 inline-6 from the Acura NSX.
While Zytek paved the way with their Panoz NiMH hybrid in 1998, Tokyo R&D’s new engine might have the initial success needed to motivate future development. Maybe we will see a hybrid Honda sports racing prototype sooner than we thought.