YW electric Grand Prix gets underway

Last week we took you to the dog-eat-dog world of radio controlled car racing, with on-board footage and video race report, as organised by The Racing Bug. All fine and fun, but wouldn’t you rather actually be in the car, racing your opponents wheel to wheel for real? Yes, we thought so too, so we took the electric BMW and MINI cars we had on loan out for a thrashing, to see which came out on top. We had to enlist our youngest ever road testers due to the diminutive interiors. So which car was fastest, which one handled better, which one triumphed in the desirability stakes? There was only one way to find out: standby for the first ever YW Electric Grand Prix !

YW Electric Grand Prix - Jacob attempts to push Taya off the track!

It’s a quiet Saturday morning in a Buckinghamshire village, but gathering for an almighty duel, two electric cars camouflaged under black drapes wait for the gathering storm. At the appointed hour, unleashed from the paddock, two racers with 120 months of life experience swoop down on the dormant machines. Waken abruptly from their slumber, these electric racers are ready to surge into battle at the drop of a hat flag. And so it was, that top tester Taya climbed aboard the MINI, blipped the throttle to test the response, and stared transfixed at the official race starter, ready to raise his flag. On her left flank, sat a gleaming silver BMW 335i convertible with our equally mighty, Stig-in-the-making, Jacob.

YW Electric Grand Prix - BMW leads in first race

Cars aligned, pit-crews cleared from the grid, flagmaster Cameron raises the flag, throttles are floored, the race is on. The BMW instantly moves ahead, but its pilot has more than leading in mind, and steers right, forcing a collision, almost pushing the cute Cooper S off the track. Round the first corner the BMW has the inside line and consolidates its lead. At the Garage Hairpin though, its length and consequent wider turning circle pushes it wide. Jacob narrowly clears wall and curb. But, to the crowd’s amazement the silver car has stopped on turn three to let the MINI catch up. Is this ultimate sportsmanship? No, looks more like a chance to rub his good fortune into his adversary’s eyes!

YW Electric Grand Prix - Race 2: MINI leads, but was that a jump start?

There’s serious panel bashing on the climb up to turn 4, another hairpin but sporting wide run off areas and pushchair wielding marshals to guide them round. The marshals retreat, just in case…It’s neck and neck as they leave the northern loop and head to the Flower Pot Chicane. Jacob is fending Taya off with his hand: there could be a stewards’ inquiry for this manoeuvre. The MINI then gets squeezed at the chicane and falls behind. Jacob romps home a couple of car lengths clear, Taya finding ample time to suck her thumb on the finishing straight. It’s all over. The winner has pulled his England Rooney t-shirt up and is doing a celebration run. Better not dive on that tarmac Jacob!

Now, it has to be said, there was a bit of controversy over the initial car allocation in the pits earlier. Taya’s preference for the silver convertible being overridden by circumstances, shall we say? To make things fair, drivers will have to swop machines for race two. Performance, theoretically, should be virtually identical, but clearly the BMW is faster: it doesn’t make sense though – it’s longer, heavier, turns wider and yet romped home first by quite a margin. Will the change of drivers level the score?

Race two is away. Jacob hits the MINI’s accelerator early: will there be a pitlane drive-through penalty? We don’t think he jumped the start, just nudged the nose to the line but has zero chance of leading into turn one from his right hand startline position. There’s no word from the stewards. The race is close, as Taya looks over her shoulder to see the MINI bumping into her, but Jacob fails to use full lock on the Garage Hairpin. He falls back. By turn 4, the North Hairpin, Taya has pulled way ahead. The MINI gains ground on the corner but its slippery plastic tyres are understeering and the tighter turning advantage of Jacob’s mount slips away. There’s just the Flower Pot Chicane to negotiate and the finishing straight to go. Taya has built up a comfortable cushion and is gleefully sitting on it. Controversially the MINI has stopped. Its despondent driver has stormed off. It’s now a one horse race. Taya confidently takes her hands off the wheel, nearly comes to grief down a drain cover, but takes the chequered flag in record time. The crowd whoops with delight. But wait! A mystery driver has commandeered the abandoned MINI and is steering it towards the finishing line. We’d never planned a relay race…..

With one driver AWOL, Race 3, the decider, never happened. The panel of judges conferred to consider the outcome. On balance they felt that, although the results were a one-all, first prize had to go to Taya for fantasic car (and temper!) control while sucking her thumb. At least the winner’s bag of jelly babies ought to keep her mouth occupied for a while….

See here for more details of the cars

Our thanks to the very nice people at www.bmw-shop.com and www.mini.com/shop for the brave loan of the electric cars

YW electric Grand Prix - Taya wins race 2 in style

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