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Formula E and Roy and HG

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Nicolas Prost of team e.adams-Renault (the blue car) leads the inaugural Formula E off the grid as Roy and HG look on. (Images via fiaformulae.com and abc.net.au)

Sports guru Lachlan Barker covers the world of electric car motor racing, as well as the finals festival of the boot happening this weekend.

On Monday this week, a friend dropped by and said:

“Did you see the Electric Grand Prix?”

My jaw dropped and my eyes saucered.

“No,” I replied, “when was that?”

He wasn’t sure, but I left him standing and raced back to my desk to check this out, because this has been a dream of mine ever since the electric car first began to appear on our roads.

My two areas of interest here at Independent Australia are sport and environment and so an electric car race brought those two strands together.

I have previously enjoyed the (petrol) Grand Prix — it really is a path to perfection, every nut, bolt, rivet, pedal, electronic relay and team member have to work in perfect sync for the vehicle to win the race. However, with my increasing concern about the environment, I found I was no longer able to enjoy the Grand Prix as I couldn’t get past the huge amounts of fuel being burned for meaningless driving.

For the record, Formula One petrol cars burn 75l/100km, whereas average fuel consumption on the roads in Australia is 11.5l/100km. A new hybrid released this year in Australia claims fuel consumption of 1.9l/100km.

The last race in Singapore was 22 cars racing sixty laps around a 5 km circuit ‒ along with a practice days ‒ and so the Formula One in Singapore burned a guesstimated 19,800 litres of fuel.

There are 19 races in a year, and so 376,200 litres of polluting fuel goes into this event, and that’s just the actual racing cars, when you add fuel for the aircraft to carry this circus around the world, it is clearly a large amount.

So no more petrol Grand Prix for me, it’s time for some no-octane excitement!

The electric event is called Formula E, also the ePrix, and the first race was held around the Olympic Stadium, more commonly known as the Bird’s Nest stadium, in Beijing China, September 13.

The race was won by Brazil’s Lucas di Grassi, driving for the German team Audi Sport ABT; second was Frenchman Franck Montagny for Italian team, Andretti; and Briton Sam Bird of Virgin Racing was third.

And some comparison statistics for those who consider themselves... well… car people are called petrol heads, so I’m declaring myself an ‘E head’ — so some comparisons for E heads.

The record top speed for a petrol Formula One car is unofficial, but is listed as  413kph (257mph); in racing conditions, top speeds come in around the 300kph mark.

At the most recent Singapore Grand Prix, the winner Lewis Hamilton averaged 165kph for his fastest lap of the race around the 5.065 km circuit.

The Formula E cars that raced around the Bird’s Nest stadium raced 111.3k (25 laps) with the winner, di Grassi averaging 127kph for the 52 minute journey. Di Grassi’s best lap averaged 150kph, with the top speed for the eCars being around 250kph.

Clearly, racing at 127kph is nothing compared with the petrol vehicles, but considering the top speed on the roads here in Australia is 110, it’s rapid enough and certainly fits the bill of ‘motor racing’.

Viewing figures are projected to be healthy as well. The governing body of Formula E, estimates a global audience of 205 million for the ten races of the first season — that is, approximately 20 million per race.

The petrol Grand Prix has double that, 450 million last year, but that seems good level of interest, and augurs well for the future.

If I missed the Beijing race, it was partly because it wasn’t telecast here in Australia, but I checked with Fox and they are going to broadcast the next Formula E event from Putrajaya, Malaysia on 22 November on Fox Sports 5 at 7pm.

And a final note on my excitement over this, the petrol Grand Prix, wasteful though it is, has seen a furious innovation race, with constant refining to make the cars faster and more reliable, which has led to spin-off benefits ‒ fuel efficiency being one of them ‒ for the road motorist.

Likewise, we can look forward to the ePrix leading to more and better innovations for electric cars on our roads, leading in turn to greater reductions in automobile pollution.

So, while the rest of the nation waits breathlessly for the Melbourne Cup in November, I will be looking with eager eyes toward Malaysia, just waiting for the tyre squealing of the ePrix to begin!

Back home on the football field, the two major winter codes are approaching their crescendos for the year.

In the rugby league, one grand finalist has been decided, with Souths removing Easts from the yearly equation on Friday night at Stadium Australia — 32-22.

While I was sorry to see my team out for the year, even I can’t begrudge Souths their moment in the spotlight.

A foundation club, and generally considered the ‘heart of the league’, the red-and-greens were removed from the competition for financial reasons at the end of the 1999 season. However, they fought their way back through the courts and rejoined the comp in 2002. The Bunnies’ last title was in 1971 and so their long-suffering fans justly deserve to see them on the biggest stage in rugby league again.

Their opponent will be either Penrith or Canterbury and so this year’s grand final will be a Sydney affair, with two fanatical sets of fans giving full throat.

In the Aussie rules, it’s grand final day, with the good guys ‒ the Sydney Swans ‒ taking on Hawthorn at the MCG.

While there will be furious debate over who will win and, subsequently, why they lost, for many of us, the real excitement is that HG and Roy will be broadcasting it.

Bollock-rackingly funny, HG and Roy are expert as well. HG is a South Australian by birth and so is most expert on Aussie rules, while Roy is a New South Welshman and brings greater insight to rugby league.

The team have a satirical theme for their grand final broadcasts each year, and this year’s is:

'Team Australia, Operation Sink the Slipper'.

Sinking the slipper, by the way, is a football reference to kicking someone if they get in your way — the ‘slipper’ being slang for footy boot.

So, it seems that this year HG and Roy are going to take some potshots at Tony Abbott’s ‘Team Australia’ and the Peter Slipper affair.

Today, they will be broadcasting the AFL from the MCG on ABC News Radio, and next week they will give the rugby league grand final from Stadium Australia the treatment, likewise on ABC News Radio.

So even if you don’t like sport, I encourage you to tune in just for HG and Roy.

It’s politics and sport — and as funny as all get out to boot.

Lachlan Barker blogs at cyclonecharlie88.blogspot.com.au. You can follow him on Twitter @cyclonecharlie8.

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