Audi RS3 World-Record Reverse Mode: Which Formula E Race Car is Next?
Recently, the German racing driver Daniel Abt, who currently competes in Formula E with ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport, broke the world record for driving fastest in reverse-mode.
Reverse-driving racing used to popular in the Netherlands back in the 80s, but these races were later scrapped for being too dangerous.
Fast-forward to today, and the fascination with backward-driving still exists, only now channeled into the safer form of speed records rather than races.
German racing driver Daniel Abt
The Glorious Era of the Dutch DAF Cars
The Dutch car manufacturer DAF was the first automaker to introduce continuously variable transmission (CVT). It was called variomatic, and was unique to DAF cars, having been developed by Hub van Doorne who was one of the company’s founders.
Thanks to variomatic, it was possible to drive a DAF car in reverse-mode at the same fast speed as forward-mode. This is because instead of separate gears, the system had one (continuously shifting) gear with a separate “reverse mode” rather than a reverse gear.
For this reason, the DAF cars, cheap and simple as they otherwise were, had a massive advantage during the (now defunct) Dutch Annual Backward Driving World Championships. They had to be put in a separate competition since there were no other cars that could compete with the DAF cars.
The Natural Advantage of Electric Cars
Electric cars like the Nissan Leaf have been setting word-records for driving in reverse-mode for a while now. The Nissan Leaf was driven at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2012 by stunt driver Terry Grant and broke the then reverse-driving speed record.
Electric cars have a natural advantage over traditional fossil fuel burners when it comes to reverse-mode driving. They work with the exact same efficiency when driving in either direction: front or reverse.
For instance, the Audi RS3, which holds the current speed record for backward driving, can reach 130 mph (210 km/h) in both forward and reverse driving.
The Audi RS3
A few weeks ago (the You Tube video was posted on October 9th), Daniel Abt, a German Formula E racing driver, set out to race an Audi RS3-based Schaeffler 4ePerformance against a Porsche GT2 RS. The catch was that he would drive the Audi in reverse while the Porsche would be driven in normal forward-mode.
In an impressive feat, not only did Abt beat the Porsche, but he also broke the reverse-driving world record. Daniel Abt drove the Audi RS3 in reverse at an astounding 209.7 km/h (130 mph).
The Audi had been modified by the Schaeffler Group to produce 1200 horsepower. It was equipped with four Formula E electric motors, each producing 295 hp.
The Next Formula E Race Car to Break the Reverse-Mode Speed Record
As we have mentioned, electric cars have an advantage over fossil-fuel-powered cars when it comes to backward-driving. This makes it highly likely that the next car to break the reverse-mode record will also be a Formula E car.
Formula E is an auto racing championship that exclusively features electric-powered cars. Formula E cars are constrained when it comes to forward-racing because current battery technology is still not advanced enough to store the large amounts of energy the cars need to outdo Formula One cars.
In reverse-mode, however, Formula E race cars have an advantage since they are all electric-powered.
The growing popularity of Formula E has attracted automakers like Audi, Jaguar, Nissan, BMW, Mercedes Benz, and Porsche. These car companies use cutting-edge technology to continually improve their electric cars.
With all these companies competing to make the fastest electric cars in the world, it’s impossible to predict which will be the next Formula E race car to break Daniel Abt’s reverse-driving speed record.
Cars don’t break records – drivers do. It will depend on the car chosen by Abt or the next driver who gets bitten by the urge to break the record.