Not too long ago, our friend and Swiss Tesla Owners Club president Stephan Schwarz said “hey did you hear, there’s a twelve hour race with electric cars, wouldn’t that be a challenge for you guys?” Obviously, he had our immediate and undivided attention, which isn’t as simple as it would seem.
It took about three seconds for us to dig out the corresponding web page, check out the details and download the rules and regulations. Well, lots of surprises were waiting for us. Twelve hours – only interrupted by two thirty minute breaks – of driving on the Lignières racetrack, the only closed circuit racetrack in Switzerland due to a sixty year old law passed as a reaction to a minor racing incident in 1955 which totally didn’t make motorsport history.
As you can see, the circuit is rather small and winding and we would soon find out that there were a few challenges waiting for us on the tarmac – but let’s not get ahead of things. At this point, we’re still reading the rule book – ouch! A sizeable sum would be required to participate, way above our fun budget. Oh and it also stated that a team would imperatively consist of three drivers. Our avid readers will know that Team Wattwurm historically only ever consisted of two guys – now what?
At least it was pretty clear that we would have to participate in a Renault Zoé. Given that the Zoé is currently the only model in the smaller class that can charge with 43 kW peak power, there was no alternative if we wanted to have a chance at all of winning or getting close. The Model S does have a huge battery but we estimated that the total distance covered in 12 hours would be greater than even the Tesla’s battery range, and once you have to charge, unless you have a Supercharger at hand, you’re stuck with 22 kW peak charging power. Advantage Zoé. But there was yet another problem.
Now recently we’ve boasted about how we now have a whole fleet of electric vehicles at hand – but to our great shame we will have to admit that none of those cars is legally owned by us, they all belong to the bank. Yes, there, we said it, we don’t even own our cars, we lease. And to be serious for a moment, the reason I bring this up is that any form of track racing or automotive competition is strictly forbidden in the leasing contract (go ahead and read yours, you’ll find it). Now we are indeed talking about actual racing and not a Sunday afternoon retirement home excursion – the possibility for a mishap is always there. And since we were not exactly comfortable with the idea of ending up with not only a totaled car but also a multitude of legal issues between an insurance that won’t pay and a bank that will send a hoard of lawyers after us, we would therefore not only need someone to fork out the money for the participation fee – but also, someone would have to provide us with a car.
In addition, we were about to embark on our second WAVE Trophy; if you’ve been on this web page lately you’ll know that we covered around 3400 km in little more than a week with the Leaf, driving around Germany, Switzerland and Italy (even though we’ll freely admit that we still owe you our final chapter of the WAVE adventure). In any event it should be clear that covering mileage on backwater roads hundreds of miles away from your home isn’t exactly the best prerogative to thoroughly organize an upcoming event. Things looked grim.
What now? It was pretty clear this was never going to happen. We were missing a team mate, lacking serious money, and didn’t even have a car – and solving even just one of these problems on the road would be a challenge, let alone all three. But as most of you know, Wattwurm doesn’t just give up.
In the meantime we visited the introductory event (just a couple days before heading off to the WAVE) where we met the organizer Tony Staub. All our friends were there and as we were chatting along, we talked to Stephan again, telling him where whe were standing (i.e. nowhere). When we mentioned that we needed money and a car he said “well, you can have my Zoé”.
Wow. We had just solved one of our problems! We had a car! It honestly was hard to believe. Now where else to find another team mate than at an event where all our crazy friends are hanging out anyway. Suddently it didn’t seem that far fetched any more. We were still chatting with Stephan when Karl joined us and asked what was going on. Some of you might remember Karl as being one half of Team Lightning Rods at the 2014 WAVE. In any event, we started telling him and it took less than ten seconds for him to be grinning from ear to ear. It was clear that we had found our third man!
Karl wasn’t only extremely enthousiastic about joining team Wattwurm for the SEGP, he also promised to pull some strings and see if he could come up with a sponsor for the money. Because we were still talking about a solid amount of money – chances were 50/50 at best that someone would actually be willing to support us.
In any event, we went off to the WAVE hoping for the best and expecting the worst. And much to our surprise, a few days later Karl rang us up telling us that we had finally found a sponsor. We had prepared numerous emails and letters which he then followed up and one of those was successful. Wow. Our efforts finally paid off, the extended Wattwurm Team was going to participate at the Swiss Energy Grand Prix 12 hour endurance race in Lignières! We were about to write history. again.
As usual, all pictures link directly to the sites I stole them from. I can’t guarantee any content beyond the actual pic I used so click at your own risk.
We will introduce our sponsors, their business and their motivations in Part 2 of our race report. In the meantime, you can check out their websites by clicking the logos below.