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Skoda Fabia RE-X1 Kreisel: ride in an electric all-wheel drive vehicle

The Kreisel brothers have developed a fully electric Fabia with Raimund Baumschlager and Skoda, and the Austrian association created regulations in record time. Nevertheless, the car stood still during the second ÖRM run. Luckily we got there beforehand.

Since the then record champion Franz Wittmann heralded the sporting premiere of a certain Audi Quattro 40 years ago, there has not been as much excitement about a rally car in the Alpine republic as about the Skoda Fabia RE-X1. "If you post a video, you'll have 500,000 followers in a flash," marvels engineer Walter Illmer.

After the call from the Kreisel brothers, you weren't really convinced at first. Raimund Baumschlager, however, rang the bell at Skoda after the on-site visit in Mühlkreis. Sports director Michal Hrabánek has a booming customer business there, but otherwise no budget.

With the blessing of the Board of Management, the sports department quickly hopped onto the electric train that was already rolling and adapted the chassis for the high-voltage battery between and behind the crew. "An additional strut on the cage cross braces the car against hits from below, and we have relocated rear stabilizers," reveals Chief Technology Officer Ales Rada. Otherwise, the Austrians were largely allowed to do so.

Two electric motors with 260 kw

The Kreisels are already working on a sporty electric drive for the electrification of the World Rallycross Championship. Instead of burning down a circuit in a group with almost 700 hp in five minutes, something should also work in terms of rally technology in a more brave version. Project manager Daniel Foissner promises 35 special stage kilometers and 35 on the connection stage in terms of range.

The two electric motors deliver around 260 kW or 354 hp, making the RE-X1 around 65 hp more powerful than its brother with a 1.6-liter turbo. With its 600 Newton meters, it pushes from a standing start in such a way that the stomach timidly nestles against the spinal cord. "It seems as if the electric Fabia would accelerate better, but the data say something else," says Baumschlager. The RE-X1 is 100 kilos heavier than a Fabia Evo.

Baumschlager expects new business from the E-Initiative, but has no interest in overrunning the conventional field in the Austrian Rally Championship with the Stromer. "I still have four burners in the house myself, and we want to rent them out," he says.

Rally car without cardan shaft

They both have all-wheel drive, except that the electric version doesn't need a cardan. The front and rear axles, each driven by an electric motor, are only connected to a "virtual differential" by the control unit. In principle, the force could be distributed arbitrarily, but it's all confusing enough as it is. "When you're in fifth, you know it's fast now, but with only one gear it's hard to estimate the pace," says Baumschlager.

If he chooses full recuperation, it relieves the rear axle so much when accelerating "that it feels as if you pulled the handbrake", he apologizes for a somewhat wide swing between the pylons on the Skoda test site in no man's land near Mladá Boleslav, at whose entrance a sign warns: "Crash laboratory".

At Skoda you watch the beginning from afar. There is no concrete plan, but you have the big picture in mind. "It would be a big mistake to fight against electrification, which is coming anyway," warns Hrabánek. Unlike the parent company VW, the Czech Republic has no intention of pulling the plug after 120 years of motorsport history. "We want to continue to do motorsport in the future."

Climate-neutral solar power

Head of Development Johannes Neft was skeptical, especially when it came to range and charging times. This is exactly where the Kreisels see their strength. The batteries can be charged with 200 kilowatts. The tricky temperature management with such large currents has been cleverly solved. Each cell is independently flushed with a specially developed Shell fluid, which is connected to an external air conditioning system via two hoses. The energy storage device with its 52.6 kilowatt hours can be fully charged in 18 minutes without any build-up of heat.

The RE-X1 gets its power from a refrigerator-sized battery pack in the service truck. At Kreisel, discarded car batteries do the job, which begins their second life here. With only one race car, it hasn't been too difficult so far to organize everything in a climate-neutral way - apart from the diesel racing truck: The electricity comes from the photovoltaic system on the roof of the Kreisel factory.

The approval for the ÖRM was gentle, harmonious and pleasantly un-Austrian. In a scene in which traditionally no one begrudges the other the lard on the sandwich, the association sat down with the activists.

Cancellation of the Hartbergland Rally

Baumschlager-critical Andreas Aigner sat in the passenger seat as a reference to balance the balance of power, and the association quickly created regulations that integrate electric cars into normal driving operations. Three sensors, a sealed USB stick to prevent any cheating, the matter was discussed.

But then the organizer of the Rallye Hartbergerland backed down and banned charging during typical rally breaks in regroupings or in the parc fermé. "That worked without any problems in Weiz, Baumschlager marvels. Unfortunately, the team couldn't change the logistics so quickly. In addition, they didn't want to poison the atmosphere with a protest.

"So as not to arrive at the rally with a negative sign to have to, we will withdraw our entry in Hartberg.We would like to deal with this topic on an objective basis in a calm environment with all those involved in the AMF and the Rally Commission," says Kreisel Managing Director Philipp Kreisel.

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