Reporter Luca Köster in Rotax Project E20
Kart magazin editor Luca Köster had an exciting experience from April 22nd to 24th in Genk, Belgium. As part of the Rotax MAX Challenge Euro Trophy, the 24-year-old had the chance to sit behind the wheel of an electric kart for the first time. The active kart driver accepted the invitation of BRP-Rotax and competed in the Project E20 in the Senior category. He reports on his impressions of the racetrack, his opinion on the potential drive concept of the future and the pleasing end of his weekend in a personal background story.
"After discussions with the persons in charge of BRP-Rotax it turned out at the beginning of April: At the opening race of the RMC Euro Trophy in Genk I should get the opportunity of a guest start in Project E20. I did not need a long time to think about it – it was immediately clear that I wanted to take the chance and go into completely new territory.
I have been active in karting for more than ten years now. From the four-stroke class VT250 to IAME X30 and Rotax MAX Senior to the start in the Rotax MAX Challenge Germany at the Rotax DD2 this season. I have already moved many different concepts on the track and put them through their paces in race trim – but an electric drive has not yet been included. I was all the more excited about my assignment in Genk.
The biggest surprise followed in the first training session. I know the track in Genk well from the past. Last year I was here as part of the RMC Euro Trophy with the Seniors. What was new, however, was the feeling in the kart. No engine sounds. No exhaust fumes. No smell of gasoline and no fear in the pre-start, whether the spark plug immediately gives up its spirit or makes the engine work. In return, I suddenly had a completely different perception. Never before have I heard how the tires work in certain temperature ranges or how the wind passes my helmet on the straight.
But even more impressive than that was the power of the Rotax Project E20 kart, which was noticeable from the first meter. From the first turn on, I immediately noticed the biggest difference: Compared to the successive power and speed band of my usual Rotax DD2 engine, the power delivery of the E20 was a different world. Each throttle impulse was converted into impressive acceleration without deceleration and made the almost 200 Nm of torque on the rear axle omnipresent. The top speed was also more than remarkable at 135km/h.
'But even more impressive than that was the power of the Rotax Project E20 kart, which was noticeable from the first meter.'
I had to adapt my driving style to the higher weight of the kart. Especially when braking from high speeds, the 220kg of Kart and me have definitely made ourselves felt – after all, I am otherwise used to a ready-to-drive total weight of 175kg. Gradually, however, I developed a better and better feeling in the training sessions and was able to burn faster and faster times in the 1,360-meter-long asphalt.
In the races, the first standing starts of my kart career were on the program for me. What an experience! With the clever use of the boost button, which unlocks another 4 kW of additional power for five seconds, it went straight forward. This also showed a further innovation in the racing action. Beyond the mere concentration on racing, the focus was suddenly more than ever on racing strategy. I quickly realized that good timing can be a decisive factor for the use of the boost button.
Over time, I got a better and better feeling for it and increasingly found the right rhythm on the track. In qualifying and after the heats, I was in fourth place. In the races, however, I put everything in a nutshell and scored two victories. The kart worked flawlessly and always delivered full performance.
Rarely have I experienced such a relaxed race weekend off the track. After the turns, the focus was largely on charging the batteries. Everything around it was absolutely stress-free, and nothing required any maintenance. Especially in the two-stroke range, this is not a matter of course from my own experience.
At the end of the weekend, I asked myself what karting, and racing meant to me. If I had to provide an answer before my Project E20 experience, it would have been admittedly rather with great skepticism compared to the electric kart. Until now, I always thought that it was things like engine sound, the vibrations, and the emotionality of driving a combustion kart, among other things.
But my Project E20 assignment taught me better. The racing feeling was one hundred percent present even without all these influencing factors. With the possibility of temporarily unlocking the extra power, the racing action on the track also got a new dimension, which I really enjoyed. I understood that the future of motorsport can definitely lie in the electric. From my perspective, openness to technology is one of the biggest keywords.
For me it was not the last time in the e-kart. With my victory this weekend, I have won another start in project E20 and will probably compete in the Rotax International Trophy race at Le Mans. Because in the end it became clear to me: If this is what the concept of future motorsports is to look like, I will take back all my initial doubts and look forward to the upcoming developments."
SOME SEATS ARE LEFT FOR THE RACE THIS WEEKEND.
If you are interested to race in the E20 categories at one of the RMCET races, please go to the website https://www.rotaxmaxchallenge-eurotrophy.com/ and register.
Don't miss it, there is still the chance to participate in the championship to win a ticket for the RMC Grand Finals 2022 and the winner of the weekend race is awarded with a full race package at one of the E20 Tour events (except the RMCGF) free of charge. Check out the next Tour Stops here.