Electric cars are the next frontier in motorsports, from drag racing to the Dakar Rally. But while these vehicles are modified for racing, the Nissan Leaf entered into the 2011 Pikes Peak Rally is bone stock.
Pikes Peak is no stranger to electric vehicles, having made a specific class for EV’s during last year’s race, when Ikuo Hanawa set a new Pikes Peak EV record, taking 13 minutes and 17 seconds to complete the 12.4 mile Race to the Clouds. Hanawa will be there again this year, as will electric motorcycle racing pioneer Chip Yates.
They will be joined by Chad Hord, and off-road truck racing driver who certainly has the skill and wherewithal to compete. But can the 110 horsepower Leaf, with its road-going suspension and 90 mph top speed, really expect to compete with Hanawa’s purpose-built EV Racing Concept? Even Yate’s EV motorcycle has almost twice as much horsepower as the dainty Leaf, as well as a purpose-built suspension for the rough terrain that comprises the race.
I’m also unsure if this is a publicity stunt by Nissan, or if Mr. Hord is an owner and fan of the Leaf. I would have loved to have seen the Nissan Leaf NISMO RC race car concept hitting Pikes Peak instead, but either way, I’m glad to see Nissans EV getting its hands dirty in the world of motorsports.
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. You can read about his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout or follow his non-nonsensical ramblings on Twitter @harshcougar.