Nippy Nick aiming electric dreams

Stroud News and Journal: SPEED MERCHANT: Nick Ponting SPEED MERCHANT: Nick Ponting

STROUD racing driver Nick Ponting will bid to break the UK electric car land-speed record later this month.

The current record – 137mph – was set by the grandson of legendary speed-merchant Sir Malcolm Campbell.

The Nemesis is the brainchild of Forest Green chairman Dale Vince OBE, who founded the world’s first green electricity company, Ecotricity, in Stroud.

Estate agent Ponting will race at Elvington Airfield near York on September 27.

Starting in go-karts at the age of 12, Ponting received his race licence at 14 and the now 21-year-old has experience across a range of racing cars from Formula BMWs to Formula Fords.

Ponting said: "There was certainly an element of ‘stepping into the unknown’ when we did the test-runs in July after the Nemesis had undergone a range of modifications from its normal road-legal specification.

"I've done wheel-to-wheel single-seater racing in excess of 150mph, which is quite exciting at times, but the Nemesis has been very impressive in testing and phenomenally quick.

"There were still a few downforce issues as we built up the pace in the test-runs, but we’ve sorted those out and we’re now ready to take on the record."

Powered entirely by 100% green electricity made by Ecotricity’s network of 53 windmills around the UK, the Nemesis was designed and built in less than two years by an ‘A-team’ of leading British motorsport engineers in Norfolk.

Unlike a combustion engine, electric cars have 100% torque from a standing start and in initial speed tests last year the road-legal Nemesis did 0-100mph in 8.5 seconds. On paper the electric motor is capable of topping 200mph, although real-world conditions – such as contending with aerodynamic lift needed to be addressed in converting the car from road-legal before they could tackle the record.

The Nemesis can travel from 100-150 miles between charges depending on driving style and can be charged from empty in under 30mins using rapid-charging infrastructure.

Last summer the grandson of Sir Malcolm Campbell, Don Wales, attempted to break his own 137mph UK land speed record for an electric car – but ran into trouble on the beach at Pendine Sands in Carmarthenshire Vince added: "We built the Nemesis to smash the stereotype of electric cars as something Noddy would drive – slow, boring, not cool.

"But also to stimulate thought and debate about how we’ll be getting around when the world runs out of oil. And what we’ve been able to demonstrate is that wind-powered cars are not just feasible, but can be a load of fun.

"We made a number of modifications to the road-legal specification of the car to give it more down-force at higher-speed. We’re now quietly confident we’ll break the record."

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