At the Thruxton racing circuit in the UK, a very unique duel unfolded as one of the world's hottest electric racing cars took on one of the world's fastest electric racing bikes. Priyadarshan Bawikar checks out the epic battle
Ask any petrolhead what is the first thing on their mind when they get their hands on two motorized vehicles, and more often than not the answer will be a race, be it a quick dash in a straight line from naught to a quarter of a mile or lap time around a race circuit. And especially when these two vehicles represent the opposites of the auto world, like say one car and one bike, the comparison gets even hotter. Seriously, as pointless as it may sound, there is nothing better than to watch a powerful bike, with its high power-to-weight ratio and ridiculously quick acceleration take on a powerful car with its higher cornering speeds battle it out on a lap around a race track.
But this face-off isn't your average run-of-the-mill car vs. bike fight. The car in question is very special, the Citroen Survolt, a 300bhp all-electric sports car concept which the French auto giant had first shown off in Geneva this year. The Survolt was specially designed with a light weight frame and compact dimensions to suit race track use. Thanks to the super light tubular chassis and full carbon bodywork, the Survolt weighs just 1.15 tonnes. Power comes from two electric motors which draw their energy from twin lithium-ion batteries each of which boast a capacity of 31kw, making for a total output of 300bhp starting form zero rpm all the way upto 5,000rpm. And the batteries themselves are just 140kg a piece. Which such phenomenal power and exceptional lightness, the Survolt is able hit a top speed of 260km/h and can accelerate from naught to 100km/h in under 5 seconds.
But if you think that the car is something, the bike that went up against it is just as, if not more, special, a full blown electric race motorcycle called the Agni Z2. The Agni is powered by a whopping 80 battery packs, but still manages to tip the scales at just about 220kg. And the 65hp electric motor driving the rear wheels can accelerate the Agni from too 100km/h from a standstill in a mere 3.5 seconds onwards to a top speed of about 210km/h.The Agni has proven its mettle by taking top honours in the uncharted world of the TTXGP, the international racing championship for all-electric motorcycles.
Of course, if you're pitting such special vehicles against each other, you also need special racers for the job. Driving the Survolt was Le Mans Series and Touring Car racing driver Vanina Ickx, who also happens to be the daughter of Formula One legend Jacky Ickx. Riding the Agni Z2 was none other than Jenny Tinmouth, the fastest woman around the Isle of Man TT course and championship leader in the 2010 TTXGP. In the capable hands of the two professional female racers, car and bike battled it out to test speed, agility and performance in the all-electric shoot-out of four wheels against two. Vanina Ickx even commented; "This was a fantastic experience, the first electric duel of its type. The lack of engine noise made it a very interesting challenge. Normally you have an idea where your opponent is by their sound, but with electric vehicles it's so much quieter, a new racing dynamic. I had a lot of fun and I'm thrilled to have been part of this unique track event."
Of course, choosing one winner among the two is not really fair to either vehicle. Apples and oranges they might be, but both of them represent the likely future of motorsports where genuine emissions-free electric racing cars and bikes will take to circuits around the world. The clear winner here is alternative fuel vehicles as a viable replacement for gas-guzzlers in the highly competitive, high-stakes arena of motorsport. What this means is that the eventual and inevitable demise of gasoline as the fuel that powers our race machines does not spell doom for the magnificent sport of motor racing and all its competitive glory. Ok, so in the future the cheering crowds at tracks might be louder than the cars and bikes whizzing by. But it's a small price to pay to watch the Valentino Rossis and Michael Schumachers of the future take the chequered flag and move us to tears with beautiful displays of flamboyant racing.