Mon October 10, 2022
Volvo Construction Equipment
A tool co-developed by Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) and Granfors Racing has been adopted by the FIA and is the first solution of its kind to be devised as part of motorsport's electric transformation.
Adhering to strict FIA safety protocols, the prototype tool allows for electric rallycross cars to be recovered from the racetrack without any personnel handling the car — a first for motorsport.
Volvo CE has co-developed the innovative "hands off" solution with Granfors Racing using a Volvo EWR150E wheeled excavator, Engcon tilt rotator and insulated rescue plate to make recovery quicker, more flexible and above all safer.
It is being trialled as part of the all-electric FIA World Rallycross Championship (World RX).
The new racecar recovery tool is a unique solution in the world of motorsport and is the first of its kind to be introduced to the tracks since the FIA began the electric transformation of its World RX race series, according to the company.
Due to the use of this solution, the now 100 percent electric rallycross cars are recovered from the racetracks without any manual intervention — meaning no personnel have to walk on to the tracks and physically strap or hook the car to a recovery vehicle as would previously occur — making it not only safer to intervene, but also more efficient and speedier.
Volvo CE co-designed the solution in its role as Official Construction Equipment Supplier and Track Building Partner for the World RX race series, together with Swedish start-up Granfors Racing. After being trialed at the race weekend in Riga, Latvia, in September, it has now been adopted by the FIA as the most efficient recovery solution for the race series.
Arvid Rinaldo, Brand Communication and Partnerships for Volvo CE, said, "With the speedy introduction of this innovative solution, we are living up to our commitment to push both our industry and motorsport forward when it comes to safety and sustainability. Thanks to this strong partnership with the FIA and Engcon, we are able to accelerate a shift towards electrification that is reliable, efficient and most vitally safe."
In Safe Hands
With the advent of electric rallycross racing come entirely new safety considerations given that the rallycross cars can accelerate from 0 to 100kmh in less than two seconds — quicker than a Formula 1 car — combined with the inevitable care that needs to be factored in when handling electrically charged vehicles.
Benoît Dupont, off-road category manager of the FIA, said, "Electric racing is a new technology which brings new challenges around safety — we need to adapt to that and create new tools. Volvo CE has been really proactive in helping us, creating a tool that allows us to remove the car in a safe and efficient way. And this is really what we were looking for — to add electric safety on top of efficiency."
Because safety is not something to be taken lightly, the FIA has introduced a smart traffic-light system as part of its new electromobility safety protocols. Whenever an electric rallycross car comes off the racetrack, a green light on top of the car indicates the safety status of the car. If it turns red, it indicates to those nearby that it is not safe to touch the car and to await official recovery of the vehicle.
Power of Three
To keep in line with this system and to allow the safe recovery of electric rallycross cars that have "turned red", Volvo CE and Granfors Racing came up with their own three-fold safety system.
Once drivers have been safely recovered from the car by trained officials, the car is then carefully picked up by a flat insulated rescue plate, which is controlled, lifted, lowered and angled as necessary with a 360-degree Engcon tilt rotator attached to a Volvo EWR150E wheeled excavator. The combination of these three tools together not only ensures the safe handling of battery-powered vehicles but also provides enhanced efficiency and flexibility.
The EWR150 wheeled excavator, run on biofuels, offers a tight, compact swing essential for the complex maneuvers required during this process and the reliable handling needed to quickly and safely deliver the crashed racecar to the designated recovery area.
Developed in collaboration with Engcon, which provided the tilt rotator attachment, and tested under thorough safety requirements set by the FIA, the result is a collaborative innovation set to break new boundaries in motorsport safety.
Morten Fjeld-Nielsen, sales manager of Engcon Norway, said "It's fantastic to see Volvo CE finding innovative ways to use our tilt rotators in racing — proving how flexible and adaptable our solutions are to any application. Without this type of tool, the ability to rescue cars in the fast and efficient way that we do now maybe wouldn't even be possible."
The solution also is making a huge difference to driver safety. Klara Andersson, one of the drivers for the Construction Equipment Dealer Team, said "While we always strive to win and every race is an adrenalin ride from start to finish, we know that our safety is always front of mind at World RX, particularly as we navigate this new era for electric racing. With this new robust set-up, we can be confident that our safety is in good hands — and that any interruptions to the race are kept to the absolute minimum."