The new Honda Insight may be here, but the original Honda Insight hybrid, in the hands of the Oaktec rally team, is on course
for its best season ever following a series of strong results in the
Formula 1000 rally championship.
The Insight, which has been a regular Class A winner in the series, is now taking on the Class B cars with some success and after 3 rounds lies in second place overall in the championship.
The team scored their first podium of the season in taking third place at the Lee Holland memorial rally at Anglesey in April and now a continued programme of technical improvements to the car promise to reap further dividends as the season progresses.
Development of the Honda, which is supported by Van Doorne’s Transmissie BV part of the Bosch Group, has so far concentrated on hybrid system control and rear suspension performance, and seen the car enjoy a significant improvement in speed over the rally special stages. Yet a further gain is expected when the team install a new battery technology and energy regeneration system over the summer months.
Team boss Paul Andrews explains; “We have been working hard on a raft of technical developments that will allow us to push home the advantage given to us by the hybrid electric motor generator and the Continuously Variable Transmission which the Honda IMA system employs. We have done a deal with a manufacturer of the very latest battery technology which will give us much more power for less weight and allow us to capture more waste energy more quickly under braking. KERS has not yet been a big hit in Formula 1 but a tuned hybrid system has great advantages in this type of motorsport. It also gives the car fantastic fuel efficiency in normal driving conditions and this will only get better as we develop the hybrid CVT package.”
The team are also planning to do a 100mpg demonstration later in the year to better the amazing 82 mpg they achieved on a fuel economy event late in 2008. “I love the paradox of the 100mph rally car that will return 100mpg” Andrews continues. “There is really no point in us doing all this development work if there is no genuine environmental advantage.”
The team is currently receiving research and development funding from the North West Regional Development Agency and plan to transfer the hybrid development package into their Bosch supported Honda Civic Hybrid rally car that was such a hit on the 2008 Jim Clark Rally, but only when it has been proven in competition.