Monthly Archives: April 2017

Sublime scenery from the opening stages

The Silk Way Rally doesn’t get the same coverage as the legendary Paris-Dakar, but it’s one of the toughest tests in the automotive world. The course spans almost 10,000 km (6,214 mi) along an approximation of the ancient Silk Road, beginning in Moscow and weaving through Russia and Kazakhstan on its way to Xi’an, China. Here are some of the best images from the first three legs of the event, which kicked off earlier this week.

 

At the moment, the highly-fancied Peugeot 3008DKR Maxi piloted by Sebastien Loeb is sitting in the race lead, just a few seconds ahead of teammate Stephane Peterhansel. Peugeot is one of the favorites for the event having won the last two Paris-Dakar rallies, and arrived at the start line in Moscow with a different take on the 3008 DKR for Loeb to test ahead of the Paris-Dakar.

As you might have gathered from the Maxi name, it’s a whopping 20 cm (8 in) wider than the model it replaces, which opens the door for a 10 cm (4 in) increase in suspension track. According to the team, that makes for a more stable ride on rough roads at high speeds. Given these rallies are conducted at high speeds on rough roads, that’s probably a good development.

Although Loeb and his Peugeot teammates aren’t likely to be taking too much notice, the rally is run on some simply stunning roads. The event organizers have developed a route that highlights the history of the region, and are hoping to position it as a high-profile part of the world motorsports calendar.

Andretti Autosport for factory Formula E entry

BMW has announced plans for its i Division to join the burgeoning Formula E series. It won’t be the first German manufacturer to enter a factory-backed car in the pure-electric category, but the move signals a strong focus on electro-mobility from the suits in Munich.

Although it hasn’t been an active competitor, BMW i has been involved with Formula E from the very start. Its i8 has been used as the safety car since the category started in 2014, but there were a few issues with the series that prevented the partnership from evolving. Those roadblocks, such as BMW’s objection to cars being swapped mid-race – akin to a fuel stop in traditional car races – are set to be removed in Formula E’s fifth season, which kicks off in 2018.

“Because it is very important for us to demonstrate our technological expertise, we have shown a firm commitment to this project through the registration of BMW AG as an official manufacturer and are facing up to the growing competition there,” says BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt. “The changes we required for our involvement will come into effect in Season 5 – these include, for example, the omission of the car changeover.”

Along with some welcome publicity, BMW is hoping Formula E will help it develop the electric powertrains showing up a wide range of its production cars. Although the i8 and i3 are the most recognizable EVs in the range, iPerformance hybrid powertrains are available in an ever-growing number of models, making electrification a big part of BMW’s future.