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INSIDE LINE- Going Electric- with Aoife Melia

It was a very significant phone call, when Leo Nulty owner of rang my dad to inquire if I would be interested in a test drive of an electric Kart. Off course I was interested! I’m 18 years of age and have been karting since I was 8 years old. This opportunity needed to be grasped, regardless of the fact that I am in my Leaving Cert year!

Arrangements were quickly made and we flew to Barcelona and headed to Alcaniz in Aragon, Spain. We headed out to Motorland to check out the track straight away. Motorland is a mecca of motorsport, it was built as a venue to replace the saloon car racing which took place around the narrow streets of the town centre. Motorworld comprises of 3 to 4 separate tracks, karting CIK regulated karting track, off road track and the main race track which would hold the World Superbike championship round the following weekend. The track, which is recognised as one of the leading kart tracks in Spain, tests the limit of both kart and the driver.

On Tuesday evening we met the co-founders and CEOs of Electric GT, Mark Gemmell and Agusta Paya together with their communications director of GT Electric, Jordi Lopez and the research and development team and the other test drivers. It was clear through our conversations the passion and belief that electric cars are the vision for the future and motorsport. This vision is becoming a reality with Agusta Paya being the first driver to complete the Dakaar rally 2015 in a 100% electric car.

On the test day- an unusually wet day for Spain- the Pirelli wet tyres were fitted on the eKart and the test began. My first thoughts were that the power was immediate with no hesitation unlike normal combustion engined karts. It took me two to three laps to learn the track as it was technical and the wet conditions did not make it any easier. I had a number of 8/10 minute test sessions throughout the morning. There were many things to learn, for example there was a qualifying mode (which was full power) and a race mode, these of course are different to my conventional kart. There was also consideration to be made in relation to the efficient use and conservation of battery power. As it was a wet day and as Pirelli are a main sponsor of the championship they supplied us with two different compound tyres, their supersoft kart tyre and their wet tyres both of which are exclusive to this championship.

For the first half of the day we used a wet tyre which had significantly more grip than I am used to in karting. This made the drive slightly more physical but it definitely allowed me to test the kart to its full potential. As the day progressed, the track dried up and as  the track conditions changed, the supersoft Pirelli slicks were fitted and I needed to learn a dry line with slick tyres on this track. The driving experience was like driving a different kart. The braking zones were shorter which meant I had a greater opportunity to increase the acceleration on the kart. As the power was so direct with no hesitation I was able to carry the speed through the corners.

This was a brilliant test day. Electric GT gained a lot of data from the test drivers’ feedback and data from the kart. I am delighted that following this test day I have been invited to the next kart test drive session with Electric GT. Thank you Leo Nulty for making the connections and offering me this brilliant opportunity.

Until the next time,

Aoife Melia

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