Tesla Model 3 wins resounding victory in prestigious Targa West road rally
A Tesla Model 3 performance electric car took victory in one of the key categories of Targa West’s prestigious 1,000km road rally over the weekend, and could have fought for an overall podium if it had had access to an ultra-fast charging unit.
TOCEVA racing team vehicle – driven by husband and wife team Jurgan and Helen Lunsmann – stunned the local racing community last year by easily winning the Targa130 class, for cars limited to a top speed of 130 km.
This year, it switched to the Targa165 component – with a top speed of 165 km – becoming the first Tesla Model 3 in the Southern Hemisphere to participate in FIA sanctioned motorsport with a roll cage.
And it won again with some ease, in just under eight minutes, beating some high-end fossil fuel cars including the Porsche Cayman, most of them running at a cost three times the TOCEVA budget. You’re here.
The TOCEVA Racing team is led by Jon Edwards, who owns the car and has funded the entire mobile charging infrastructure. The team now consists of around fifteen people from the Tesla Owners Club and AEVA.
The Tesla finished ninth overall, behind the winning Lotus, and Florian Popp, of Gemtek, who provided some of the charging infrastructure, said it could have struggled for a podium place if it had had access to a super-fast 120 kW portable charger.
Like this, the team was limited to a 40kW load – via a specially converted Hyundai Kona with DC-toDC load, a “battery buffer” truck fitted with an older Model 3 battery, also DC to DC, and another truck using vegetable oil diesel from McDonalds fast outlets.
The 40kW limit meant the Tesla had to moderate its speed on certain occasions, especially on the longer stages in the last few days, to make sure it had enough juice in the battery. He was fourth overall after the first two days.
“We had to go slowly for a few stages,” said Popp. “If we had a 120kW fast charger, we could charge fast enough to challenge really high performance cars. We would have a good chance of getting on the podium.
The Gemtek team has entered Targa West for six years, with the aim of showing automotive enthusiasts – and performance drivers – that electric vehicles are not just about sustainability and environmental benefits, but also performance.
“The reaction has been mixed,” Popp told The Driven. “It took six years to slowly wear them down. We are certainly seeing in the last three years in particular that a lot of ‘motor bosses’ are buying a Tesla as their second car in the house. “
Still, Popp is proud of what was accomplished in the 165 class, where he beat the runner-up Porsche Cayman by 7.57, with the Subaru, Honda and Nissan further behind.
“It’s a pretty big gap between us and the rest of the field,” he said. “For a $ 100,000 car to compete with $ 800,000 cars, it’s impressive. The Tesla did not miss a beat, it is a demonstration of the caliber of the car.
“The top 10 in the competition standings is a bunch of some of the best cars and drivers in the state, and for an unmodified car bought online, seriously competing with these is absolutely unheard of in the last 50 years of Targa Motorsport. “
(Note: The latest version corrects the sponsor name of Model 3 from the previous version).
Giles Parkinson is founder and publisher of The Driven, and also edits and founded the Renew Economy and One Step Off The Grid websites. He has been a journalist for almost 40 years, is a former deputy editor of the Australian Financial Review and owns a Tesla Model 3.