I met with the Mitsubishi team to interview race drivers Greg Tracy, Hiroshi Masuoka, as well as team engineer Mr. Tanaka and Masatoshi Hasegawa, Executive VP to find out what Mitsubishi was aiming for at Pikes Peak 2013… short of the obvious.
Greg shared with me that he was open to what may happen and the Mitsubishi Evolution II is powerful. If speed was not that important for the last 149 years, it is now. Even motorcycle sports have changed, with smaller contact patches and riding on the edge constantly. With four wheels, a car can go faster in corners, and you find yourself at ten-tenth limit all the time. Also, electronics work faster than you do but don’t stand in your way, and let you become part of the car. In many ways, this is a revolutionary race, competition wise, it’s smooth in the beginning very rough at the top. EV race sound. What also struck me as the signs of a great international racer driver is the amount of confidence and check on reality winners like Tracy have. You can click here for the rest of the interview.
Asked if he misses racing motorcycles, Greg told me it was more fun at this time to drive a car than a motorcycle. “With a motorcycle, you are part of the weight distribution, but with a car, there are more nuances and your original motorcycle points of reference are gone. Regenerative braking changes everything and gives you a lot of feedback. The trick here at Pikes Peak is that we spend a lot of time adjusting settings but it comes time to race, the track can change.” So why did Greg Tracy choose electric over gasoline? “The big thing with Pikes Peak is that you 5,000 feet of elevation change. It’s not as much an issue when you get into the big motorcycles or big engines but it is definitely an issue. As you get to the top you definitely go slower.” He continued to say that with an electric drivetrain, you have that linear power and you get to go on a roller coaster ride all the way to the top of the mountain.
As I listened to what Greg told me here, I found it uncanny considering how the sky opened a flood of rain on him at the start. Nonetheless, Greg finds himself comfortable switching to an electric car. You can click here for the rest of the interview.
Masuoka San, going from Paris Dakar to electric at Pikes Peak is as big as big as going from a marathon to a sprint. How would you describe the difference between such different races? Masuoka said it was slower but there is no runoff, so it is much scarier. Obviously the Paris Dakar runs over thousands of kilometers. Mistakes can be made up but on such a small distance up to a mountain top, it is much more difficult. How did you go about the transition from gasoline to an electric drivetrain? Mitsubishi was the first car company that introduced an electric vehicle (EV) in Japan. With the data gathered last year to enhance Mitsubishi’s electric prototype race. Last year, we used a lot of stock components we already have, but this year we are using components we are developing for future electric and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) cars.
Our Super All Wheel Control system is already in use with some of our vehicles (See my upcoming Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution drive from Start to Finish at Pikes Peak) Mitsubishi’s goal is to have a very easy and driver friendly car. What about the competition? The competition is very stiff obviously, not only form electric cars but also gasoline. Masuoka felt he had a double role in the team, not only as the principle but also to lead the team with Greg Tracy to victory.
You can click here for the rest of the interview.
These two interviews with world race drivers who have won prestigious car races, Paris Dakar for Hiroshi Masuoka and Pikes Peak many times for Greg Tracy are interesting in many ways. Both drivers have won those prestigious races on conventional internal combustion engines and have now switched to an electric four wheel prototype. While talking about the difference and the importance of racing electric vehicles up a mountain, I couldn’t help but think how Mitsubishi was shaping the face of future electric car racing with their MiEV Evolution II.
Gallery Courtesy of Mistubishi