An alternative approach for non-stop racing!
After announcing its sports programme in the Le Mans Series and an entry application for its second participation in the Le Mans 24 Hours, the team from Strasbourg, Pegasus Racing, has decided to lift the veil on an avant-garde project - the development of a 100% electric sports prototype. The aim of this zero-emission Ligier is to match as closely as possible the performance of the thermal version of the same car, which Pegasus Racing's driver, Julien Schell, put on pole a few months back at Magny-Cours.
In the paddocks in 2010 the team members gave up ordinary scooters for the eTRICKS developed by the Alsatian Company, IC Engineering. Restricted to 45 km/h, these two-wheelers have an autonomy of 25 kms, and can be recharged thanks to an independent solar energy station. This partnership is being extended to produce all the electricity required for the team at the circuits in total autonomy - a first!
The team's determination to work for a more responsible form of motor sport takes an ever more daring turn today with the announcement of a new project, on four wheels this time. To bring it to fruition Pegasus Racing has managed to gain the backing of big Alsatian companies that have cutting-edge technology. The support of a person as charismatic as Guy Ligier has also had an influence in the decision to launch this project.
Electric power and motor sport: the current state of play
Pegasus Racing's raison d'кtre is motor sport, an activity whose original justification was to help human mobility to progress - quicker, further in safety - and today to achieve the same objectives with minimum emission rejects and maximum respect for the environment. The only problem is that at present there is no major top-level branch of motor sport for electric vehicles. Hybrids are still suffering from teething trouble linked to cost, reliability and safety. Thus the team will continue to live in the present, and fight for podiums with cars that comply with the current regulations, while in parallel it is preparing the way for a possible future for motor sport. The philosophy behind the Pegasus Racing project
"We wanted a car as close to the original as possible," explains Schell. "In 2008 we won the Challenge Endurance Proto VdeV with the Ligier JS49, and the following year we filled the runner-up spot with the JS51. This is the model we're transforming into an electric prototype! We know its performance with the usual 2-litre 250 bhp Honda power unit, so we can make comparisons. One of our first decisions was to put an engine amidships in the car, which goes against the current fashion of placing an engine near each driven wheel. The central position of the engine offers several advantages: reduction of the risk of overheating due to the brakes, improvement of the weight distribution and the coupling of the engine to a classic gearbox. This solution means we can use the torque in three gears, and retain the original suspension mounting points thus avoiding expensive development costs. We've kept the same cooling system as the requirements of the battery; the electronic power and the engine are considerable in this domain. The lithium batteries are very efficient, nothing like the lead ones in an ordinary car. They will be located in the place of the fuel tank between the engine and the driver."
Main characteristics of the electric Ligier-Pegasus
The engine puts out 145 KW with a tension of 375V DC, the equivalent of 200 bhp. The engine change and the replacement of the fuel tank by the 30KW lithium batteries have increased the weight from 650 to 800kg. The batteries for evolution 1 of the car giving an autonomy of 20 to 25 minutes is the first aim to be achieved.
In the longer term
The Ligier will be developed in private testing and the team will take advantage of every opportunity to show off its viability in public. In its basic configuration it is already more advanced than other initiatives of the same type. Pegasus Racing intends progressing on a step by step basis. "There's still a lot to be done with the current technologies," Schell points out. "Other challenges await us in particular concerning the battery changes in an endurance context, recharging techniques etc." Welcome to the 21st century!