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Nissan marks fastest lap ever
in Cape Town E-Prix

Sacha Fenestraz rewrote the Formula E record books during qualifying rounds in a landmark week for Nissan in South Africa, writes SHERYL GOLDSTUCK.

This weekend Porsche’s Antonio Felix de Costa won South Africa’s first ever
Formula E world championship race, the Cape Town Grand Prix, but a remarkable
honour went to a rookie driver.

During the qualifying round, Nissan’s Sacha Fenestraz recorded the fastest lap in
Formula E history, beating Maximilian Guenther of Maserati MSG Racing for pole
position with a time of 1m07.848s and an average speed of 154.987km/h,
Saturday, 25 February 2023, saw the first ever E-Prix in sub-Saharan Africa, with 11 teams from around the world competing in 22 e-powered racing cars. The cars weigh around 840kg, with the battery alone weighing 280kg. The maximum weight allowed for a driver is 60kg.

Fenestraz, who drove for Nissan with Norman Nato, was also the youngest of the drivers, at 23 years old. While he had raced in codes like Formula 3 and Super Formula, nothing could prepare him for Formula E. “The challenge for Formula E drivers is that they do not have the so-called ladder to
go to formula racing,” said Tomasso Volpe, managing director and team principal of
the Nissan Formula E Team, during a media briefing before the face.

“In other categories, like Formula One for instance, usually the drivers have done
driving for Formula Three and then they progress to Formula One. The progression is more natural because they have more power, more downforce. Furthermore, there are the so-called Junior categories, so there is nothing that really prepares drivers for energy management, which is the main thing.

“The regeneration of power and how to manage the regeneration of the power, presents a big challenge for drivers because they need to enter in the mindset that they really need to plan. This means they need to take into account the overall race, when to use wind power and when to regenerate energy more and when to deploy

“It is really a different approach. The biggest skill is to finish on top with almost no epower left. They need to be masters at managing between the deployment and regeneration of energy.”

It was a memorable week for Nissan in more ways than one. Aside from demonstrating the speed it could reach from pure battery power, it also launched its innovative e-Power and e-4orce technologies in Africa. e-4orce is Nissan’s most advanced all-wheel-drive technology for electrified powertrains.

Nissan Formula E Tomasso Volpe & Sacha Fenestraz

It integrates Nissan's electric propulsion and 4WD control technologies with its chassis-control technology for a huge leap in acceleration, cornering and braking performance.

It reinforces handling and drivers’ reassurance on almost all surfaces. The ingenious system offers superior control and immediate response, while pitch management modulates brake balance for a more comfortable ride. The powerful dual e-motor system has a total output of 157kW thanks to the addition of a rear motor, which allows for keen acceleration, with a zero-100km/h time of just 7.0 seconds.

It also has a rear torque response that is up to 10,000 times faster than a mechanical 4WD system. With power distributed almost instantly according to the prevailing conditions, the driver and passengers will be unaware of the system working to
maximise traction and control.

“e-Power is a gateway technology for customers who aren’t yet ready to make the step to full EV,” said Stefan Haasbroek, Nissan Africa chief marketing management director. “The technology helps bring more people closer to EV ownership and is a significant step toward our ambitions for an electrified future in support of our sustainability goals.”

Nissan says e-Power technology is another step in delivering Ambition 2030, the company’s long-term vision for empowering mobility. Mike Whitfield, chairman of Nissan Africa South and managing director of Nissan Egypt, said: “Customers are at the heart of our electrification strategy at Nissan. As such, we understand the current barriers to electrification in Africa especially regarding infrastructure and range anxiety, and e-Power offers a solution to that.

“Beyond the introduction of technologies like e-Power, Nissan collaborates with the
different stakeholders across the continent at different levels in building policy frameworks to support a future of electric mobility for Africa.”

Nissan has taken learnings from its extensive experience in EV technology to develop the powertrain and control systems of the Nissan e-4orce, producing its most efficient racing car to date.

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