A Tesla Model 3 has taken out first position in the 130 class of the Targa West rally, almost 10 minutes ahead of a lineup of fossil-fuelled competitors including the second fastest competitor, a Holden Commodore VF SS V.
Driven by veteran racers Jurgen and Helen Lunsmann over four days from Thursday to Sunday, the 2019 Performance Model 3 racing for West Australian EV charging business Gemtek became the first electric vehicle to win the 130km/hr speed limited class of the 1,000km race.
The @Tesla Model 3P has won the 130 class of @TargaWestEvents today in #Perth. What a magnificent performance from @gemtek EV Racing and the support charging team. The drive by Jurgen and Helen Lundsmann was faultless… pic.twitter.com/9CRiWbMjlU
— AEVA (@AEVA_National) October 25, 2020
Notably, the Model 3 also beat the times of the 165 class (which is 165km/hr speed limited), coming in a little more than 4 minutes ahead of that class’s winning 1999 Honda Civic.
“This is testament to the acceleration of the Tesla Model 3 Performance Plus,” Gemtek co-founder Floian Popp tells The Driven, also noting and thanking the efforts put in by a team of volunteers.
Using a mobile charging system devised by engineer Jon Edwards, the team was able to stay on top of keeping the Model 3’s battery charged enough to enable high speed driving.
“The critical part to the win was that we were able to maintain battery charge above 80% for almost the entire race, by having 3 separate mobile chargers, which we coordinated to be in the correct locations as the rally progressed over four days and the 1,000km,” says Popp.
“Using the Hyundai Kona “Electron Transfer Vehicle” to fast charge at stage starts, and then topping this back up on generators made us very nimble and able to get the electrons where they were needed.
“Our crew of volunteers used GPS trackers to know where the race car and charge vehicles and were in relation to each other. Turning equipment on 5 minutes ahead of arrival to allow it to go through startup procedures (eg the Tritium Veefill) gave us critical minutes during the fast paced itinerary.”
The win follows the Model 3’s equally exciting win at the Targa South West rally in August, when it also won the 130 division hands down, even though the Lunsmann’s slowed down as they was so far ahead of the pack.
The Tesla Model 3, which is Gemtek’s second EV it has run in the Targa series, following the 2011 Tesla Roadster that took out the Challenge class in 2018, was not the only electric vehicle present at the 15-year-old rally racing event.
Targa West Rally at Langley Park, Perth pic.twitter.com/bbntDFa18f
— Independent Chauffeur Service (@PerthDriver) October 25, 2020
Popp says that for the 2021 Targa West rally, the Gemtek team are now considering adding a roll bar to the Model 3 which will allow it to compete in the 165 division.
In the meantime, please enjoy this video of the Model 3 taking the zig-zag section of the race:
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.