It’s not often that you find Tesla making headlines in the motorsport world but that may change following their recent win in the Targa South West.
Taking part in the Targa South West rally in Western Australia, the privateer Gemtek EV Racing Tesla Model 3 Performance won the Targa 130 class destroying rivals that included a Porsche 911 and a Lancia Delta Integrale HF.
Whilst the victory itself was an achievement, it was the nature of it that has caught many racing fans by surprise. Gemtek’s Tesla 3 was driven by Jurgen & Helen Lunsmann and finished more than 4 minutes ahead of their nearest rival across 16 tarmac stages.
Gemtek Racing has been competing with Tesla vehicles since debuting in 2011 having previously used a Tesla Roadster before recently switching to the Model 3.
The difference between Tesla and their rivals was clear to see among those watching the event. Speaking to TheDriven.io, spectator Rob Dean exclaimed that “the drivers backed off – they were winning by so much they just thought, let’s win it in one piece.”
One of the main challenges for the team was having to find ways to constantly recharge their vehicle with the event a long way from any fixed charging point. To overcome the issue, team engineer Jon Edwards designed a mobile DC charging station that allowed them to top up their battery from other electric cars.
They would plug their car in for 10 minutes ensuring that the battery stayed above 80% and avoided losing horsepower during a stage.
Gemtek’s success marks a rare victory in motorsport for Tesla but this could be the start of a new dawn for Tesla in the racing world. For example, there will no less than three separate Tesla Model 3 entries in the infamous Pikes Peak International Hillclimb event in the USA. It’s hoped that the updated performance of the Tesla Model 3 may even help these entries break the current EV track record which stands at 11:48:264.
These developments are promising news for Tesla racing fans who have previously been disappointed by the American marque’s attempts to get into motorsport. Perhaps the most famous incident of this was the much mooted Electric Production Car Series which launched in 2016 using a modified Tesla Model S. However, a lack of investment saw the series suspended indefinitely and has faded away from the spotlight.
Whilst Gemtek’s achievement won’t see Tesla jumping to enter the likes of Formula E anytime soon, it’s good to see that smaller events such as the Targa South West can truly show the sporting potential of Tesla newer models.