Saturday, July 13, 2024

Apache unveils APH-01 T3

Apache Automotive plans to be the next manufacturer competing in the World Rally-Raid Championship‘s T3 category for Light Prototypes, and will do so with what the Belgian company calls “the most advanced T3 prototype ever designed.” Known as the Apache APH-01, the car was revealed on Saturday.

According to French journalist Gael Robic, the APH-01 will have an electric motor on the front axle as well as a three-cylinder Peugeot internal combustion engine at the rear. It will also operate on second-generation biofuels, which can be derived from non-food biomass and waste and involves breaking down cellulose into fuel. The Peugeot motor can produce 150 kW of power while the motor generator unit adds 50 kW.

The car is 3,850 cm long, 1,850 cm wide, and 1,950 cm tall. Its bodywork comes from flax fibre while the dashboard is manufactured using recycled carbon. Intended to be a substitute for traditional carbon fibre, flax fibre is a composite material made from flax plant and is lighter, which allows for more weight reduction while still maintaining strength.

Credit: Gael Robic

It is intended to meet the FIA’s T3.U regulations for hybrid Light Prototypes. T3.U, the U standing for “Ultimate”, will make its formal competition début in 2024; Ultimate subcategories were introduced starting at the top T1 division with vehicles like Audi’s RS Q e-tron.

As a hybrid, it also uses regenerative braking technology and plans to reduce fuel consumption by twenty percent.

The APH-01 plans to race for the first time at the Rallye du Maroc in October with Antoine Méo. Méo is a five-time World Enduro Champion who ran the Dakar Rally in 2016 and 2018 on bikes, finishing fourth overall at the latter, before making the switch to four-wheel vehicles. He entered the 2023 Rally driving a PH Sport Zephyr and finished thirty-first in T3.

Cars racing on alternative power sources is a growing theme across motorsport including rally raid. Various vehicles also use biofuels like X-raid Team’s Mini JCW Rally Plus T1 and 2024 Dakar Classic entrant Jaap Bolk’s Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution, while KH-7 Epsilon had a hydrogen-fuelled truck that was required to compete in the Challenge New Energy class instead of T5. The 2024 Dakar Rally will have the Mission 1000 programme, which provides an alternate route for hybrids and other related entrants to run in a non-competitive environment to gauge their capabilities.