16 year old Finlay Retson, current Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge rally champion, took the eRally Renault Zoe rally car out for its first taste of competition at Knockhill on Sunday 26th March. The event was the Andy Wilson Memorial Autotest organised by Glenrothes Motorsport Club. This was history in the making as it was the first time a modern roadgoing electric car had been used in competition.
Conditions could be described as tropical for Knockhill with everybody enjoying the glorious sunshine. The course was dry and fast and this seemed to suit the driving characteristics of the Zoe – instant torque and traction – over the first couple of tests. Finlay’s times were a couple of seconds off the “favourite” – Jim Wilson in the classic Mini Cooper built and run by his Dad Andy many years ago. But as the tests got tighter, a combination of the Zoe’s bulk and weight and Finlay’s enthusiasm, saw the excellent test times suffering from penalties hitting cones. But he held on in there and came home third behind the Mini Cooper shared by the Wilson brothers.
The whole day was deemed a great success for everybody involved. Apart from opening the bonnet to let interested onlookers see the “heart” of the machine, the Zoe did not need any attention – not even a power boost in the lunch halt. Finlay approached the exercise as any good test pilot would and commented “This was very different from last weekend when I did the first gravel test in my new Ford Fiesta ST which is LHD and I will start to use later in the year on the BTRDA when I pass my test. And next weekend I return to my rally driving “roots” when I drive the Winder Nissan Micra on the first round of the 2017 Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge. The instant power from the Zoe is awesome but getting used to the totally different braking techniques is a challenge. But what an opportunity I have been given to develop my skills!!”
And Jean Hay from eRally, who sat beside Finlay all day (because he is not old enough to drive on his own!!) was delighted with the way things went. She said “Finlay was terrific. After the first couple of tests I stopped reading out the route to him because he was able to memorise the route when we walked the course at the start. So I just sat back and enjoyed it. We are so happy that the Zoe has passed this next step in its initiation into motorsport”.
The next outing for the Zoe will be part of an electric car display at the first round of the BTCC at Brands Hatch on 1st and 2nd April. Further autotest outings are planned with Finlay at the wheel.
Finlay will start lead car on the first round of the Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge at Ingliston on 2nd April in the Winder Nissan Micra. This will be a big challenge as he lines up in front of several newer Citroen C1, Toyota Aygo, Peugeot 107, Skoda Citigo and Suzuki Alto Junior 1000 cars. Another real test.