GRR

Peter Dumbreck on driving the NIO EP9 at FOS

16th July 2018
Bob Murray

In a telling sign of the times, the two fastest runs up the hill at the 25th Silver Jubilee Festival of Speed were both set by… electric cars. One was a bespoke racer, but just half a second behind, at an astonishing 44.32 seconds, was the prototype production hypercar, the NIO EP9. 

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It’s already the fastest “road” car at the Nurburging, where in May last year it recorded 6min 45secs on slicks, so fireworks were expected at Goodwood this year and we were not disappointed – either by the one megawatt (that’s 1341bhp) all-wheel drive machine or by the man behind its wheel, Scottish F3 ace turned GT and Le Mans specialist, Peter Dumbreck.

It was Peter who set the ‘Ring record in 2017 in the same blue car that took on the Goodwood shootout challenge this year. It is EP9 number six, of 10 so far built, with another half a dozen of the Chinese financed but largely British developed and built cars due to be finished this year. As a track car, they cost just over a million pounds each.

Peter was one chap GRR needed to talk to… and we managed to track down the affable Scot early in the FOS weekend, ahead of his exceptional run on the Sunday…

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You have driven a lot at FOS – last year in the Aston Vulcan – but have you ever driven an electric car up the hill before?

This will be my first time. In fact I have never done a time attack at Goodwood before. I have always been showboating and spinning the wheels, so it’s all a bit new to me this year. I have never had to think about braking points and not crashing…

It’s a wide car on a narrow track, with a hard flint wall

Yes it’s a big car and you don’t want to get it on the grass. That’s why I will have my adult head on, despite going out there to set the fastest time possible. You’d become a legend if you shunted the thing into the flint wall and wrote it off… now you’re worrying me… stop talking.

Do you have a target time?

We’ll look to get below 50 seconds and see where we go from there. My first run on a very slippery and dusty track didn’t give me confidence, so we might go to a super-soft slick. With such a short blast to build up tyre temperature you have to do all you can do to find grip.

What’s the startline procedure in the EP9? 

The car takes a few seconds to engage for launch. You have to be in neutral with both brake and throttle pedals hard down. You select gear (there is only one) and wait a few seconds for the wing to go flat, then you take your foot off the brake and the car just goes. Instant torque and all grip. It is so stable but then you are arriving at the first corner very quickly, quicker that I have ever arrived at it before. (It is reported he was heading into Molecomb at almost 120mph; the EP9 is credited with 0-62mph in 2.7 seconds and 0-124mph in 7.1 seconds – ed).

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And how is it around the corners?

If you get anything you get a little bit of understeer. There’s very little oversteer because there’s so much aero on the car. It moves around quite a bit over the bumps because it is so stiff, though it’s not like it’s going to swap ends on you.

What’s different about driving an electric car up the hill?

One thing is the noise. It’s eerily quiet with no roaring engine, just a jet-like whoosh. It’s so quiet you hear yourself breathing. Also, there’s very little engine retardation. I always use a lot of engine braking and here there’s not much to be had… thankfully the big discs are fantastic.

Are you now a convert to electric cars?

I am open to them. I don’t think there’s one specific route we will all take with cars in the future, but our energy is certainly getting cleaner and cleaner. I do think people will always like the sound of an engine though. I drive a V8 BMW M3… it was quite a contrast driving that down here and then getting into the NIO…

You can see Peter’s run up the hill here. 

Photography by James Lynch and Peter Summers

  • FOS

  • FOS 2018

  • NIO

  • EP9

  • 2018

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