Veloce Racing Team Manager, Ian Davies, was the man tasked with travelling to France to collect our brand new ODYSSEY 21 Extreme E race car from SPARK Racing Technology, before safely delivering it to our technical partner, ART Grand Prix. Here, Ian takes us behind-the-scenes on what was a significant day for our team...
It began, as several journeys have recently, with the overnight ferry from Portsmouth to Caen, after which I drove to SPARK’s HQ just outside Paris, arriving at around 11am. Having shared Extreme E’s ‘test’ car with the other teams at Château de Lastours last month, it was great to finally see our own car ‘in the flesh’, as it were – it truly is an impressive piece of kit.
Before we could even go near it, the first item on the agenda was a safety talk for myself, our engineer, Frédéric Guyot (‘Fifou’) and chief mechanic, Laurent Jandot, on how to safely operate and touch an electric vehicle. With all of us coming from a fossil fuel environment, everything was completely new and there was understandably a lot of very important information to take in. There was then a demo on how to use the car, how to start it, how to put it in drive and so forth, and ‘Fifou’ connected his laptop to it for a run-through of the system and how it all works.
One of the most interesting things we learnt was that all electric cars have a set of lights at the front and rear – on the windscreen and on the tailgate respectively – which are green when the car is safe to touch but turn red should there be any kind of malfunction in the system. Hopefully that’s not something we’ll be seeing very often!
Finally, we collected some key material, from the battery charger to cooling equipment and – specific to this project – a set of safety apparatus, including big thick rubber gloves, rubber mats, a defibrillator and a hook to pull people away from the car if required.
Once the handover was complete, we loaded the ODYSSEY 21 up at 3pm to take it across Paris to ART, arriving about an hour later. Unsurprisingly, the first thing everybody wanted to do was take a look around the car, with lots of excitement, photos and interest, and the next major job was the ‘wrap’ to add our livery to it, which was carried out in-house via a painstaking, ultra-detailed process over the course of three days.
After applying the camouflage base layer of stickers, the overlay was positioned on top, which includes the key logos – Veloce Racing, Continental Tires, YAS Heat, ART Grand Prix, Extreme E and, of course, our race number, 5. Until you see it close up, it’s difficult to truly appreciate the size of this beast of a vehicle. It’s enormous – twice as big as your average road car – and you need a stepladder simply to reach the roof, which gives you some idea of the scale of the whole wrapping task.
With the livery applied, the ART guys set about learning the car, stripping down the bodywork to access the motors, suspension arms, shock absorbers and other key components to give it a complete check-over, which marked the beginning of our learning process.
The next stage of that process is our upcoming shakedown at Fontjoncouse in the south of France, where we will finally get to see our car in action, which will be a very proud moment for all of us. Abiding by the championship’s ethos and environmental commitment, we are restricted to 100km of running over two days, the importance of which really cannot be overestimated. It is a chance for everybody in the team to acquaint themselves with the vehicle, learn how to service, charge and cool it in real life and get to grips with what all the buttons and features do. With an awful lot to learn over a short distance, they will be two extremely busy days for the whole Veloce Racing family – and we are all greatly looking forward to them.