More Reflections on Driving ZEOD RC From Michael Krumm & Andy Palmer (w/videos)

4 years ago by Mark Kane 0

Nissan ZEOD RC was accepted as it is

ZEOD RC was accepted by other Nissan racers as it is

Remember, just do not press the brake and accelerator at the same time

Remember, just do not press the brake and accelerator at the same time

A few days ago, the Nissan ZEOD RC race car had its debut and first drive at Fuji Speedway, Japan. At the event, GT1 Champion and ZEOD RC driver Michael Krumm and Nissan’s Executive Vice President Andy Palmer sat down to discuss ZEOD’s handling and performance.

Next year this special vehicle will race at Le Mans as a “Garage 56” entry.

Krumm answered several questions saying that he was surprised by gears in the electric. But we know that a gearbox is sometimes used in EVs and ZEOD RC will end up as a plug-in hybrid with a small ICE.

There were more unusual things discussed like cameras and monitors instead of mirrors, which minimize drag.

Krumm even goes on record saying that ZEOD “sounds crazy in half a straight.”

Part 1 of Q & A Between Palmer and Krumm

EVP Andy Palmer

You had the great pleasure to drive the car in its debut. What was it like?

Michael Krumm

It was really the first time, not only for the shape of the car but the technology that’s inside, and that was quite exciting. We had a short run with very little power, so I was quite nervous to be honest. It sounds crazy in half a straight.

EVP Andy Palmer

You weren’t as nervous as everyone here wondering if you would get down the straight.

Michael Krumm

The team told me yesterday about the gears, and I said “Really? I’m not really confident.” There’s an electric motor and a race gearbox, and I asked how is that (technology) going to work together – that’s quite complicated technology already.

They said, “Don’t worry, try it,” and I did and it was quite exciting. You have the electric motor coming, you have a lot of torque, and then you shift and it’s like a big bang, but you still have the same torque. It’s not like a normal engine. It keeps going.

EVP Andy Palmer

It’s very clever technology, because you’ve got a doctored gearbox that somehow you get the synchronization through the electric motor, which is really quite innovative.

Michael Krumm

Absolutely, and it was the first time today that I experienced even on such a short run a world-first gearbox like this. It’s highly exciting to drive it, and I cant wait until it’s fully developed.

EVP Andy Palmer

I couldn’t help but notice there were no wing mirrors on the car.

Michael Krumm

I noticed, too. When you’re in a race car, or any car, really, the first thing you should do is check the mirrors.

EVP Andy Palmer

Really, I never knew a race driver who ever looked behind. They just focus on what’s ahead.

Michael Krumm

Actually, they do. When you follow a car, they pretend not to, but the head always moves slightly. They just choose to ignore seeing you.

I said the same thing – “Where are the mirrors?” But they’re going to use a rear-camera wide angle, which gives us actually a much better view in the end than mirrors. We can see a lot in the back and no blockages.

EVP Andy Palmer

And no drag, of course.

Michael Krumm

This is key to it, because we want to do everything as efficiently as we can. At Le Mans you want to be in the straight as fast as you can.

EVP Andy Palmer

Tell me about the handling, as the car obviously looks unusual with the narrow front tires. How does it feel and compare with a conventional vehicle?

Michael Krumm

Today when I drove down the straight I was zigzagging and doing turns. I did not do this just for the cameras. I did it because I wanted to feel how that is, and that type of car feels extremely responsive in the front.

You turn the steering and immediately the car responds. At first this is quite intimidating, as you know that when a car responds too quickly, you’re kind of afraid that the rear will spin around and overtake you. But, because of clever weight design with all the weight in the rear, it’s actually very stable. So it actually turns, but the rear is there, and this is something as a driver you have to un-learn to be afraid of.”

Part 2:

Andy Palmer

Normally when you are driving a racing line, you are looking for your apexes. But in this car you’re obviously looking at your front wheels. What does that do to the rear wheels? They should be much heavier on the curves. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Michael Krumm

That’s a very good question. What I realized is with the narrow front that the body drives to the front wheel. So, as you said, you put your eyes on the apex or breaking point and try to look far ahead, and whatever you do your body just wants to drive there.

Of course, now you have a wider rear and we can hit the curves, but actually it does not matter a lot. It does matter on the exits – we have to be careful not to run onto the grass, but the most important part is the braking and the turning on the apex, and you want to be as close as you can. But because all the weight is in the rear, it absorbs all the curves beautifully. It’s absolutely stable.The problem is when you hit the curve with your front. That’s a different issue, and every car reacts different to it. There is a much, much bigger impact on the lap time, on the handling.

Andy Palmer

Do you check your style, for example, turning in later because the car will turn in quicker? Does it affect the way you drive faster?

Michael Krumm

Yes, the driving style with this type of weight distribution is a little bit different. We can make a different use of it. For example, we can go early on the power. We have very little under-steer coming in, so we can kind of change a little bit the driving style. So, we can kind of change and adjust the driving style to go faster and faster.

Andy Palmer

Looking forward to Le Mans?

Michael Krumm

If you give me a job to drive (laughs). Honestly, if I drive or not (at Le Mans), it’s absolutely super-exciting to see – even to watch the car. I can’t really wait to see it break 300 kph, and it’s electric power. With this technology, it’s really exciting times.

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