Here's a switch. Oaktec, a British racing team the competes in the UK's Formula 1000 Rally Championship, has been asked to withdraw its entry due to complaints from other competitors that while complying with the rules, the modified Honda Insight Hybrid was a bit too competitive for its class. Fitted with a "tuned" version of the factory's gas/electric powertrain backed by a special CVT automatic developed by Bosch, the Oaktec Insight -- aka the world's greenest rally car -- had recorded two wins and one second place in thee outings this year. Besides its exceptional quickness, the car is stunningly efficient. Oaktec boss Paul Andrews reports the one-off Insight has regularly returned over 100 mpg in internal testing and recently averaged 82 mpg in an organized econo run, narrowly edging out its closest diesel-powered competitor by a mere 17 mpg.
While less than delighted, Andrews remains philosophical about the situation. "It was a bit of a shock when I got the call as after six years of hard work we finally had our chance for a bit of glory. But I fully understand the perspective of the organizers and their wish not to spoil the sport for the other drivers. Formula 1000 is a great championship and they were really supportive by allowing us to compete with these new hybrid technologies in their rallies; and we always agreed that if we had a clear advantage we would step aside. It's a shame it had to happen mid-season but it's the risk you face in going against the grain and trying something radical." He indicates that the team will consider entering the car in a higher-level racing class.