Ford’s wacky electric Supervan 4.2 sets a new lap record at Bathurst

AI SaaS

Ford SuperVan 4.2 at 2024 Thrifty Bathurst 500, Event 01 of the Repco Supercars Championship, Mount Panorama, Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia on Feb. 22, 2024.
Enlarge / The Ford Performance Supervan 4.2 has spent a couple of weeks at Mount Panorama in Bathurst, Australia.

Ford

Ford’s series of Supervan demonstrators now have a long pedigree of going faster at racetracks than vans are supposed to go. The current example is Supervan 4.2, which was built to celebrate—and draw attention to—the fact that there’s a fully electric version of the commercial vehicle. And its latest feat is a new unofficial lap record at Mount Panorama in Australia.

Supervan wasn’t racing there—few competition events other than the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb have rules loose enough to let it enter. But the van was sent Down Under on a promotional tour that started with some demo laps before the Bathurst 12-hour sports car race, which was held a couple of weekends ago at the Mount Panorama circuit in New South Wales.

Instead of just showing up, doing some demo laps, and leaving, the Ford Performance team and Supervan decided to hang around and put on more demo laps this past weekend, when the circuit played host to a round of the Supercars championship—think Australian NASCAR.

“For two weeks, the Supervan team didn’t stop working on making this electric van as fast as possible,” said Sriram Pakkam, Ford Performance’s manager for F1 and EV demonstrators. “The global Ford Performance network was activated to ensure Supervan 4.2 was as capable as possible. 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.”

When Ars got a short ride in Supervan 4.2 at the launch of Ford Performance’s 2024 racing season, Ford CEO Jim Farley was called upon to do driving duties. But for the Bathurst runs, Ford turned to Romain Dumas, who also pedaled Supervan up Pikes Peak for the Blue Oval.

Supervan exceeded 186 mph (300 km/h) on Conrod Straight.
Enlarge / Supervan exceeded 186 mph (300 km/h) on Conrod Straight.

Ford

“While both are impressive mountains in their own right, Mount Panorama and Pikes Peak couldn’t be more different in their challenges,” Dumas said. “This is the first time I have driven Supervan 4.2 faster than 300 km/h [186 mph], and we left nothing on the table as we pushed for the fastest lap possible. No one has ever driven a vehicle like Supervan 4.2 around Mount Panorama, and certainly not this quickly.”

Dumas drove Supervan 4.2 around the 3.8-mile (6.2-km) circuit in 1:56.3247 and set new records for an electric car, a commercial vehicle, and a closed-top car. For context, pole position for the 2024 Bathurst 12 Hour was 2:01.9810, set by Sheldon van der Linde in a BMW M4 GT3. Mercedes also brought a demonstrator to Mount Panorama, an unrestricted version of its Mercedes-AMG GT3 race car. Driven by Jules Gounon, this set a best time a few tenths slower than Dumas in the EV, with a lap of 1:56.6054.

But the absolute fastest lap of all time around the track probably belongs to Jenson Button, who put on a demonstration run in 2011 with a McLaren MP4-23 Formula 1 car. In 2011, Button completed a lap in just 1:48.8 seconds. (Last year, Red Bull and Liam Lawson put on some demo laps, too, but they didn’t try to break Button’s time.)

Supervan 4.2 is going to spend a little more time in Australia, headed first to Ford’s proving ground in Victoria, then making appearances at the Adelaide Motorsport Festival and finally at the Australian Grand Prix in late March.

AI SaaS

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