Top 100 finish for pioneering OSCar eO
By John Silcox on January 19, 2012 5:52 PM
TheChargingPoint.com would like to say a massive ‘Apsveicu’ (that’s congratulations in Latvian for all those who didn’t know) to the Latvia rally team, which has created history by becoming the first competitors ever to finish the Dakar Rally at the wheel of an electric vehicle.
The one-off OSCar eO extended-range electric off-roader, created by Latvian motorsport design and build company OSC, managed to survive the grueling 5,600 miles between Mar de Plata in Argentina and Lima in Peru that constituted this year’s event. This means travelling over some of the roughest terrain in the world, crossing both the Andes mountain range and the infamous Atacama Desert – one of the driest places on earth.
The OSCar eO – piloted by team director and seven-times Dakar veteran, Maris Saukans, and his co-driver Andris Dambis, a racing driver and engineer – ranked an impressive 77th in the final classification. Despite a few over-heating difficulties, the E-REV performed admirably and the 150kW electric motor with peak 335kW power and 590lb/ft maximum torque, proved more than sufficient for rally purposes.
To provide enough juice to get it from one stage to another a top speed, the Oscar eO uses a ‘range-extender’ V6 petrol engine from Toyota to generate electricity and maintain a minimum charge level. However, as with other E-REVs the wheels are never driven by the internal combustion engine and there’s no direct link between the two.
As mentioned in the preview article by TheChargingPoint.com’s Gavin Conway, the Dakar Rally is not for the feint-hearted. Since its inception, Dakar has claimed 25 lives, including Argentine motorcyclist Jorge Martinez Boero, who sadly died on day one this year – just finishing the rally without incident is an achievement in itself.
Talking today to TheChargingPoint.com, Saukans said: “We are delighted to have finished the race! It was a brilliant experience and we knew we could trust our vehicle to remain in one piece despite the difficult conditions.”
Saukans also told the Dakar website, “I think that alternative energies and technical innovations focused on ‘green thinking’ fit well into the bigger picture of the Dakar spirit. Our main goal was to prove that electric vehicles can perform as well as their well-established combustion engine counterparts.”
The overall event was won by Stephane Peterhansel, at the wheel of a specially modified Mini Countryman. This is the Frenchman’s tenth Dakar victory.