There’s no other way to say this: Nobuhiro ‘Monster’ Tajima is a hillclimbing race legend, having competed in pretty much every major rally championship and hillclimb event since starting his career in 1968 in the All Japan Dirt Trail Championship.
And at 64, long after most motorsports professionals would have hung up their driving gloves for a career in commentary or team management, Tajima-san is still one of the key people to watch every year in the annual Pikes Peak International Hillclimb. Having set several records on the course, beating a thirteen-year old course record in July 2007 and then besting his own record by completing the course in under 10 minutes in June 2011, the veteran driver then switched from driving gasoline-powered race cars in the annual event to ones powered entirely by electricity.
Since then — with the exception of the 2012 event in which a technical problem in caused him to retire — Monster Tajima has set a new record every year for the electric class, first at 9:46.530, then last year at 9:43.90. The vehicle he set his latest record in, a custom-built single-seat car called the 2014 Monster Sport e-Runner, was furnished with twin liquid-cooled GKN EVO eDrive motors pushing a combined 670 horsepower (500 kilowatts) to the road via an all-wheel drivetrain.
This year, Monster is back to race to the sky once again. But this year, he’ll be driving the Tajima Rimac E-Runner Concept_One, a car that packs a total of 1.1 megawatts of power.
Nobuhiro ‘Monster’ Tajima is a hillclimbing race legend, plain and simple. And he’s got a new toy for the 2015 Pikes Peak International Hillclimb
The result of a collaboration between Tajima and Croatian company Rimac Automobili, the same team which designed and built the blisteringly quick all-electric Rimac Concept_One supercar, an example of which can be seen carrying out trackside race director duties at every Formula E race event.
Unlike last year’s car, Monster Tajima’s new ride for the 2015 Pikes Peak International Hillclimb is powered by four, not two electric motors — one for each wheel, meaning there’s no need for a differential or even a traditional drivetrain. In fact, each motor drives its own wheel using a chain-drive system developed specifically for the Pikes Peak competition car, reducing both weight and total energy losses between the motor and the wheels.
Since each wheel is independently driven, the hill climber also makes use of Rimac’s own Torque vectoring system, which monitors each wheel 100 times a second to ensure that power is sent to the wheel which needs it at all times. In addition to providing excellent grip on the mountain course, torque vectoring will help the super-fast race car to execute each corner with precision and speed impossible with a traditional differential-based setup.
In total, the four motors produce the combined 1.1 megawatts — about 1,341 horsepower — that give the Tajima Rimac E-Runner Concept_One its 0-62 mph time of 2.2 seconds. That’s a full 1.1 seconds faster than the Tesla Model S P85D.
Torque meanwhile, is rated at 1500 Newton-Meters (1,106 pound feet), and regenerative braking is a massive 400 kilowatts, 100 kilowatts per wheel. Better still, the single-seat race car weighs just 1,500 kilograms (3,307 pounds), giving it the kind of power to weight ratios that most race car teams dream of. We should note too that the kerb weight includes an impressive 57 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack designed specifically for high power delivery on the 12.42-mile course.
With so much torque and so much power to play with, the E-Runner Concept_One continues to 200 kph (125 mph) in a similarly brisk way, hitting the 200 kph mark 5.4 seconds after standstill. It’s worth noting too that unlike gasoline-powered vehicles, which suffer the effect of the thinning air and thus lose as much as 40 percent power loss as they reach the finish line, Monster’s ride will be able to give full power throughout the event.
“He is a great driver with tons of experience,” said Rimac CEO and Founder Mate Rimac of Monster Tajima. “He raced Pikes Peak his first time a year before I was born. 28 years later, we work alongside [each other] to push the limits further.”
The team says it is confident that Monster Tajima will set a brand-new record on the track this year. Given his driving skill and more than double the available power on tap to help him up the mountain side, we’ve got to agree.
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