Fascination: Opel Corsa e-Rally: Searching for clues

Even in the asphalt version, the tight switchback would be tough! We are flying towards the hairpin on a gravel runway at 76 km/h.

Fascination: Opel Corsa e-Rally: Searching for clues

Even in the asphalt version, the tight switchback would be tough! We are flying towards the hairpin on a gravel runway at 76 km/h. This can not go well. We see each other in the undergrowth, but then the advice of the Opel e-Rally Cup champ 2022 Timo Schulz shoots through our heads. "Always look for the lanes of the others on gravel, that's where you have the most grip." We heed the rally driver's advice and follow the tracks milled into the ground. We hammer on the brake pedal with our left foot, release the pressure just before turning in and aim for the apex of the corner. Just before the turning point, we pull the long lever in the middle of the electric racer backwards. The hydraulic brake blocks the rear wheels immediately and the rear of the Opel swings around the corner in a flash. Quickly countersteer and step on the gas. Because the next left-right combination is already waiting.

Most of us too. Even with this challenge, the Opel Corsa Rally Electric does not present the driver with an unsolvable task. The Opel electric racer is good-natured and always politely tells you what the rear or the front of the vehicle are up to. Of course, with 100 kW / 136 hp, a torque of 260 Newton meters and a weight of 1,475 kilograms, the Opel Corsa Rally Electric is not a projectile on four wheels. This is intentional. The fan should find themselves and identify with the whole event. That starts with the vehicle. No overpriced tuning, the Opel Corsa Rally Electric is close to the series. The automatic lever is visible proof of this intention.

"We are proving that the series technology works very well even under the extreme conditions of rallying," says Opel motorsport boss Jörg Schrott with satisfaction in the third season of the one-make cup. The production models also benefit from this automotive steel bath. An Opel Corsa Rally Electric has already covered 10,000 kilometers and the battery capacity is still at 96 percent. The Rallye Stromer are not spared and weak points are relentlessly revealed. During a rally, loading suddenly stopped working properly. The reason was the immense formation of dust. "We had to seal everything, then it worked again," says Jörg Schrott. What has also been found to be important is battery cooling. The fact that the range of the Corsa-e is reduced from over 300 kilometers to around 60 km in competition shows how demanding the special tests are for the electric racers. Nevertheless, the Corsa e-Rally are now able to complete around 90 percent of the special stages that rally cars with combustion engines drive. In 2021 it was still around 65 percent.

Loading the cars is also a logistical and technical challenge. Rallies do not usually take place in densely populated areas, but where fox and hare say good night. Before Opel raised the e-Rally Cup from the baptismal font, the people from Rüsselsheim went through various technical options to then find the best one. After all, the sporty electric vehicles sometimes come to the charging station every minute during a rally, and in the interests of fairness all vehicles with the same battery charge level have to go on the hunt for best times again. According to the Opel technicians, if 18 Corsa-e are connected to the charging station, two megawatts can be drawn at the top. The solution is site electricity, the well-developed node network in Germany and the possibility of using the medium voltage of the public power grid. Nevertheless, charging with electricity must always be stable and reliable, no matter what the conditions are.

The word endurance test is to be taken literally for the Opel Corsa Rally Electric. Collateral damage is inevitable when the e-racers are beaten over hill and dale with no regard for losses. "Cars have already driven into walls, but the safety system always worked," says Jörg Schrott happily. Burning cars would certainly not be good advertising for the Rüsselsheim car manufacturer. On any negative turn, the budget-conscious Stellantis execs would immediately pull the plug. Of course, Opel also runs the racing series for its own benefit, i.e. marketing.

The Opel e Rally Cup is not an elite event for gentleman drivers, but a talent factory and a springboard for young, talented drivers. But that only works if the sport is affordable. That's why an Opel Corsa Rally Electric costs a comparatively reasonable 54,900 euros, but if you want to contest the whole season, you have to reckon with around 60,000 euros. It's worth the effort Timo Schulz won the junior series last season, secured a place in the Opel Rallye Junior Team and is now fighting strong international competitors in an Opel Corsa Rally4 in the European Championship of the European Rally Championship (JERC). The champion of the first ADAC Opel e-Rally Cup 2021, Laurent Pellier, proves that the Opel youngsters can keep up. In the 156 kW / 212 hp Corsa Rally4, the Frenchman dominated the 2022 Junior European Championship with five wins in six races. The sporting radiance of this event is intended to bathe the entire brand in a favorable light. In the future, the letters GSe will again play a greater role. These are good prospects for Opel fans.