For the first year, Team Policumbent and Politecnico di Torino have decided to organize an “at home” event on October 23-24, 2021 in which their prototypes will run on the Stellantis Proving Ground in Balocco to reach memory speeds. The vehicles, all human-powered, will challenge the ones from other European teams to reach the hour record on bicycles and the speed one on a closed circuit a few meters above sea level.
The Balocco Proving Ground is a car racing circuit complex build in 1962 by Alfa Romeo, and today property of Stellantis. This circuit, located in the middle of Po Valley, will allow the prototypes to reach impressive speed, thanks to its smooth asphalt and to its wide curves of its fast ring, the Anello Veloce.
Racing on Balocco’s asphalt are three European teams:
- Team Policumbent was born among the students’ teams of Politecnico di Torino, and it has been involved in the prototyping of human-powered vehicles since 2009. Over the years its performance has increased, reaching record speeds in Nevada at Battle Mountain: Andrea Gallo and the Taurus prototype now hold the third place in the World, with a speed of 136,49 km/h. Vittoria Spada and TaurusX, on the other hand, took second place in the World, speeding at 123,99 km/h. Representing Italy, Team Policumbent will try next October to break the hour and speed record with the new prototype, Phoenix, in the men’s category, while the female one with TaurusX only will compete in the speed record.
- Team Elan, of Dutch origins, is the only private team participating in the event. This is, in fact, a non-university team, but is made up by a group of four enthusiasts who have been studying for years and pushing the limits to launch their prototypes at record speed. In 2019, in Nevada, their male prototype reached 128 km/h, while the female one reached 121,81 km/h. This year they’ve focused their energies to break the hour record.
- Team Aim93, from London South Bank University, is a project whose goal remains to overcome the speed limits thanks to research based on efficiency, innovation, and sports performance. The last year in Battle Mountain their performance was marred by a fall, but now they’re ready to come back and have with their vehicles.
THE HOUR RECORD
The hour record is the record for the longest distance traveled in an hour by a bicycle. Each cyclist tries to break the record alone on the track, with no other competitors around. From what was established, from ameteur cyclists to more experienced ones have ventured the record, bringing prestige and making it more and more attractive. There are various records, including that for aerodynamic human-powered vehicles, also known has recumbent bicycles.
Current male record: Francesco Russo, Dekra Lausitziring, 5,8 km oval, Germany, 92,43 km/h.
Current female record: Barbara Buatois, Ford Proving Ground, 8 km oval, Michigan, 84,02 km/h.
THE SPEED RECORD
The speed record consists of a run that allows the vehicle to accelerate and measure its speed in a 200 m trap. The speed reached depends on the route and even ovals can lend themselves to propel vehicles at speeds well above 100 km/h, improving the world record not in altitude.
The vehicles used are real recumbent bicycles with particular design features. To counteract the aerodynamic resistance, they are equipped with an external fairing in carbon and kevlar, a light and resistant material that also protects the rider in the event of fall. The transmissions of such vehicles have a great influence on the results, as does the study of the rolling resistance of tires.
The rider must therefore run in extreme conditions, lying down and in a camped environment, and has two cameras connected to screens that he holds in his hands as the only external vision system, like in a video game.
LET’S START ONCE AGAIN
After the forced stop of the International competitions due to the ongoing pandemic, the European Speed Battle is for the three European teams an opportunity to see in action their vehicles, and to find each other all together, united for passion of design and research. Hoping for favorable weather on the days of record, all the teams are working hard in these last weeks to present their bicycles to the best, and being ready to dart like bullets on the Piedmontese circuit. What to say, to stay in balance, you have to move.