Darren Turner says he was impressed with the Aston Martin Rapide E when he undertook several laps of the Monaco E-Prix circuit in the electric road car last weekend.
The three-time 24 Hours of Le Mans class winner spoke about his role as development driver of the Rapide E and his impression of the rear-mounted twin-motor, rear-wheel-drive car.
“I’ve done two days at Silverstone with the car now and it was my first experience of EV technology so I have nothing to reference it against, so it was a really fascinating introduction to EVs,” Turner told e-racing365.
“The performance was a great deal better than I ever thought was possible honestly and the first time was very early in its development.
“When you have been involved in development phases of cars, whatever they are or however they are powered, there is a lot of things you have to get through and tick off.
“This, out of the box, felt very good and it was actually more of a test for me because the torque was ‘on tap’ basically and you have to recalibrate a little on what you are sensing.”
Turner has driven a remarkable range of Aston Martin designs over the years from the classic Aston Martin DBR9 which brought him two of his Le Mans class titles to the recent Adrian Newey-designed Valkyrie.
His descriptions of driving the 450 kW (604 bhp) Rapide E, which boasts 700 lb-ft of torque and acceleration of 0-60 mph in 4 seconds, are vivid.
“The handling characteristics of the Rapide were very positive and once you get around the fact there is no noise relatively and the instant throttle response then you get dialled on really quickly,” explained Turner.
“You realize quickly that you have to be aware that when you do ask for the power it hits straight away.
“I would say within five laps I was able to start really pushing it and throw it around a fair bit and could use the power to play with it too which is a great sign.”
Electric Tech Heralds New Experiences for Drivers
Turner believes that, while there will always be a place for flat-out traditional racing, disciplines of new skillsets for drivers based on the EV driving experience will become fundamental.
“The biggest thing that you have to adjust to is the lack of noise, in the sense that you are wired after twenty-five odd years of driving to the RPM and the changing up through the gears and all that synchronisation stuff,” said Turner.
“The reference points go to some extent but honestly that doesn’t last long once you are in the Rapide. You build up a different discipline and image of the driving and some new references come along.”
Turner spent the weekend chatting to a variety of drivers and former acquaintances from the racing industry who are now imbued with Formula E and EV engineering.
“It is interesting talking to some of the Formula E guys who drive on the limit on these tight street tracks,” he said. “I’ll probably dip in to Alex [Lynn] and gauge him on what it is like from a racing point of view.
“There are so many different elements now to driving race cars. Look at WEC with the limitations on tyres.
“The days of flat-out racing are still there but there are still strategies where you have spend a lot of focus on getting the rubber to last over a stint or two.
“If I see that the Formula E is on I want to watch it because you just don’t know who is going to win.”
Turner’s 25 year career as a professional racing driver has seen him emerge as a hugely decorated and respected racing professional.
His thoughts on where the industry is heading and how EV tech is helping to shape the sport, and transportation in general, are telling.
“The beautiful thing about racing is that it comes in so many different strands,” he said.
“You can go down your local dirt track, you can go to Le Mans or you can come and see futuristic stuff like this in Monaco or city centers. That’s why racing is so cool really.
“I think throughout the automotive and motorsport industry things are changing all the time and a lot of it is through necessity to be relevant.
“You have to have the combination of relevancy, attractiveness and fun just right and I think that we are seeing this with cars like the Rapide.”