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Historic Motorsport looks to biofuel to go Green

Race Retro 2008, the International Historic Motorsport Show, will be looking towards biofuels to help historic motorsport become more environmentally-frendly. Held from 14th to 16th March at Stoneleigh Park, Coventry, Race Retro willbring together biofuel suppliers, experienced users and specialist equipment manufacturers, who provide tanks, seals, fuel hoses, fire extinguishers etc, to present an opportunity for race organisers, competitors and car preparers to discuss the merits of using biofuels in historics.

This feature area will be situated in the engineering area of Hall 2 and manned by experienced users of biofuels. Competition cars set up to use E85 fuels and E5 (95 per cent gasoline), will also be on display. “The objective is to highlight conversion problems for historic and classic race and rally cars and improve understanding of the fuel and technical issues, so as to pave the way for the event organisers, competitors and motorsport to move forward,” says Race Retro director Ian Williamson.

“Some UK fuel suppliers are already blending high octane fuel using ethanol, which is available at pumps and so meets the MSA criteria that pump fuel for competition should not exceed 100 octane (RON) and 2.7 per cent oxygen. The FIA specification allows 102 octane (RON) and a higher oxygen content (3.7 per cent), which allows ten per cent ethanol to be added. So far as it is known, this fuel can be purchased directly for racing, but is not yet available at the pump.

“The debate is therefore about the effect of higher concentrations of biofuels in gasoline, both on weakening mixtures beyond the carburettor (caused by more oxygen) and the potentially corrosive effect on seals, rubbers and fuel hoses, as well as some metals. While 2008 sees the introduction of Junior WRC Ford Fiestas running on E85, A1 GP running on E30 and the BTCC permitting biofuel blends, these are all modern vehicles. Cars made before the early 1990s may only run efficiently on E5 or E10 blends because they don’t have knock sensors. To use E30 or E85, the car may need to have tanks replaced, all the rubber seals changed, etc.”

With the first UK bioethanol plant, which uses sugar beet, already in operation, plus five biodiesel plants, the government has already sanctioned that all pump fuel should contain 2.5 per cent biofuel in 2008. However the EU has proposed that pump fuel should contain 5.7 per cent biofuel by 2012, a blend which Formula 1 has already decided to adopt in 2009.

Ian added: “Historic Motorsport needs to be seen to be making an environmental effort. Who knows what innovations the future will bring, but as public pressure and perception are growing, doing nothing is no longer an option. By bringing all the various parties together at Race Retro, we hope to inform the historic sector on the solutions available.”

Race Retro is an official Campaign Partner of EEMS, the Energy Efficient Motorsport Programme supported by Motorsport Development UK. For more information on Europe’s premier historic motorsport show and the latest updates, visit