Home » How Ford Broke A Historic Lap Record With A Case Of Beer And An Electric Van

How Ford Broke A Historic Lap Record With A Case Of Beer And An Electric Van

Thrifty Bathurst 500
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Once upon a time, lap records were claimed during competition by the best drivers in top-flite racing series. Mainstream motorsports eventually became more restrictive on car design, however, and today, claiming a record is usually done in a special one-off attempt with a car specially prepared for the purpose.

That’s precisely how Ford claimed the fastest closed-wheel lap around Bathurst this past weekend.

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The Ford Performance Supervan 4.2 was the Blue Oval’s weapon of choice for this task. The electric van previously conquered the Pikes Peak Open class with Romain Dumas behind the wheel, and the Frenchman was charged with executing a hot lap Down Under. Ford spent two weeks at the Mount Panorama circuit, fettling the vehicle and chasing the fastest lap record.

Bath12hr 24 Mh2 2351

Ford wasn’t alone in its attempt. Amidst the Bathurst 12 Hour festivities, Jules Gounon was piloting an unrestricted Mercedes-AMG GT3 with an eye on the same prize. In a demonstration run prior to qualifying, Gounon set a time of 1:56.6054, smashing the previous closed-wheel record of 1:58.690 set in a Brabham BT62 in 2019. The gauntlet was thrown down, and Ford had to dig deep to best this time. “For two weeks the SuperVan team didn’t stop working on making this electric van as fast as possible,” said Sriram Pakkam, Manager, Formula 1 and EV Demonstrators at Ford Performance.

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Repco Bathurst 12hr
The SuperVan is, of course, capable of turning tires to smoke on command, too.

The latest in a long line of SuperVans, Ford’s electric SuperVan 4.2 had a few advantages over its combustion-powered competition. This latest version’s three-motor drivetrain delivers over 1,400 horsepower to all four wheels with instant-on torque, a unique virtue of electric drive. At the same time, it gives a lot up to its GT3 competition. Being a van, it has a huge frontal area which is a drawback in the aero stakes. It’s also heavy, in part due to its battery packs, weighing in at approximately 3900 pounds.

Ford4.2etransitsupervan Ev01 24 Mh1 3395

The big blue box was able to triumph on the mountain nonetheless, with Dumas nailing an epic lap of 1:56.3247. In the process, he topped 186 mph (300 km/h) on both Mountain Straight and Conrod Straight. Any Bathurstian will tell you that means he was giving it “plenty of welly.” As an indicator of how truly fast Dumas’ record lap was, consider this: the pole time recorded in Supercars the same weekend was a full ten seconds slower, with Broc Feeney delivering a 2:06.5465 in the Top 10 Shootout at the Thrifty Bathurst 500. On a 3.8-mile racetrack, ten seconds is a humongous margin.

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Watching the lap, the Supervan sounds more like some kind of jet-powered attack aircraft than a race car. It’s all motor whine and high-pitched gear noise, with Dumas giving it everything in pursuit of the record.

Ford4.2etransitsupervan Ev01 24 Mh1 3391

 

Thrifty Bathurst 500

Over the two weeks on the mountain, the crew had tapped Ford’s international network for help in achieving a new record. “The global Ford Performance network was activated to ensure SuperVan 4.2 was as capable as possible,” explained Pakkam. “Almost immediately Mount Panorama challenged both car and team, but we were able to implement a number of key changes that improved our capabilities and brought the lap times down every session.”

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Bath12hr 24 Mh2 8848

According to reports from Speedcafeearly shakedown runs had revealed a steering issue that was holding Dumas back from wringing the best out 1of the vehicle. Members of the Ford Performance rally team helped out from over at Rally Sweden, with parts flown in from Austria and Japan. Locals pitched in, too. Supercars team Dick Johnson Racing helped manufacture new steering components. Ford also enlisted Bathurst welding firm Yubute Fabrication to assist. The company performed welding work on the Supervan after hours, with payment coming in the form of a carton of beer. It doesn’t get more Aussie than that.

Thrifty Bathurst 500

The Supervan 4.2 isn’t done yet, either. Its Australian tour will continue with a showing at the Adelaide Motorsport Festival and the Australian Grand Prix in March. There, it’s sure to be celebrated for its impressive achievement on Australia’s most hallowed racing circuit.

Image credits: Ford

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Jj
Jj
1 month ago

I liked the race dash that seemed only there to display the selected gear (always 1) and shift lights that never did anything.

Eric Smith
Eric Smith
1 month ago

Repaint it to match the Mystery Machine, add anthropomorphized dog, and rebadge to Supervan 420.

Theotherotter
Theotherotter
1 month ago

Aren’t vans – even “vans” – supposed to have a big box in the back?

Rod Millington
Rod Millington
1 month ago

Now Porsche just needs to dust off the 919 Evo again and send it to Bathurst.

Handlebar
Handlebar
1 month ago

Parts were flown in from Japan… but was it overnight?

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
1 month ago

Not much a van if they cut the roof half-way down. More of a forward-control pickup with side panels.

T.B.A.
T.B.A.
1 month ago
Reply to  Spikedlemon

Thank you, came to say the same thing.

Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Amberturnsignalsarebetter
1 month ago
Reply to  Spikedlemon

Maybe this is what David was waiting for. Now there is a benchmark to measure his FC conversion against.

LuzifersLicht
LuzifersLicht
1 month ago

Ford also enlisted Bathurst welding firm Yubute Fabrication to assist. The company performed welding work on the Supervan after hours, with payment coming in the form of a carton of beer. It doesn’t get more Aussie than that.

As much as I appreciate the whole sense of camaraderie and stuff… a company like Ford paying professionals for their work with “a case of beer” isn’t behaviour that should be encouraged.

Sklooner
Sklooner
1 month ago
Reply to  LuzifersLicht

They could have offered exposure at least

Arthur Flax
Arthur Flax
1 month ago
Reply to  LuzifersLicht

Yeah buddy. Beer may be fine down under, but here in ‘Murica, “In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash!”

(Also the title of a book, which inspired the movie “A Christmas Story” by the late, great Jean Shepherd.)

David Escargot
David Escargot
1 month ago
Reply to  Arthur Flax

Over here buying someone a $60 carton of beer will usually go further that paying them $100 in cash…. even further if you know the person and use said carton to start a drinking session…. its just the way we roll

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
1 month ago
Reply to  David Escargot

I’ve read an article explaining that when you have a working relationship with someone, having debt is a way to keep the relationship going. You only ask to ‘settle your accounts’ once you want to part ways.

I’m not shocked by the case of beer trick, it could just be good supplier/customer service.

David Escargot
David Escargot
1 month ago

I’d suggest it was offered for free/bring beers if you want… or just put “get it round here and we’ll knock it out over a couple of stubbies”

Jj
Jj
1 month ago
Reply to  David Escargot

Carton? I thought you called it a Slab.

Was Housos not really a documentary?

David Escargot
David Escargot
1 month ago
Reply to  Jj

Slab, carton, block… you can say any of those and everyone will know what you are on about… block only applies to the 30 can variety

Phuzz
Phuzz
1 month ago

Is it a real Transit if it doesn’t have a copy of The Sun and a bunch of old receipts stuffed between the windscreen and dashboard?

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
1 month ago
Reply to  Phuzz

It’s not even white.
But I’m sure it’ll run down cyclists, and park itself anywhere it feels like just as well as a standard Transit.

Phuzz
Phuzz
1 month ago
Reply to  Spikedlemon

It might be mostly blue, but at heart it’s a white van.

LuzifersLicht
LuzifersLicht
1 month ago
Reply to  Phuzz

They should try to break the record for the closest tailgating at speed next.

Strangek
Strangek
1 month ago

I really enjoyed watching Bathurst last weekend, it’s such a cool race and an amazing track. I saw them running that crazy van during qualifying coverage, looks great, sounds terrible!

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
1 month ago

Sabine. Still the best comeback.

LuzifersLicht
LuzifersLicht
1 month ago

Am I weird for kinda liking the way this thing looks? Maybe I need more pimped-up minivans in my life.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
1 month ago
Reply to  LuzifersLicht

I love the Ford GT-style buttresses in the back. Squint a little and you can easily imagine what a Ford IMSA prototype might look like. Or a desirable Ford minivan.

LuzifersLicht
LuzifersLicht
1 month ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

I played around a little with photoshop and blacked out the part from the B-pillar to the wing in that last picture to simulate tinted windows and damn it looks nice as a family ass-hauler.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
1 month ago
Reply to  LuzifersLicht

Are you a burner account for The Bishop?! 😉

I kinda wonder how long before someone decides to offer an “SUV,” but with sliding rear doors.

LuzifersLicht
LuzifersLicht
1 month ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

I wish I was that unhi creative.
The sliding doors SUV has already been done although none seem to be super popular, at least I don’t see them in the wild a lot. But this is different, feeling-wise. SUVs are cars for people who say “kids? me? well maybe but I’m still cool, I swear” while a minivan with a splitter and oversized wing says “kids? sure, and I’m still one of them neeeeeooooowww” which is altogether more likeable in my book.

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