Ford SuperVan track attack: record-breaker in full flight

My internal organs have been rearranged and my neck muscles destroyed: this is what two minutes in Ford’s 1500kW electric SuperVan does to a normal human.

Its driver, Kiwi ace Liam Lawson, may have five Formula One races under his belt, but even he says: “I’ve never felt anything like this.”

The Red Bull Racing driver, who deputised for an injured Daniel Ricciardo at AlphaTauri F1 last year, then starts giggling as much as I am.

We’re strapped inside this hypersonic Ford Transit van’s carbon fibre cockpit, and I’ve just enjoyed/endured two track laps at the Adelaide Motorsport Festival.

Why endured? This mad Ford boasts 4000Nm – that’s eight times as much as your Ford Ranger bi-turbo diesel – and hits 100km/h in less than two seconds.

The G-forces involved are immense and two days later I’m still nursing an aching neck.

“It has F1-levels of acceleration,” says Lawson, who’ll be at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne this weekend as Red Bull F1’s reserve driver, in case lead drivers Max Verstappen or Sergio Perez produce a sick note.

Thanks to the instant torque from four electric motors, the Ford SuperVan’s up to warp speed before you can shout “‘delivery!” Its acceleration pins you like a statue, then giant ceramic brakes – plus the EV battery’s 600kW regenerative braking performance – do a sterling job of crushing your ribs.

I asked Ford how much of this SuperVan is “true” Transit, and after some head-scratching, they suggested some of the windscreen’s dimensions are close to a production model’s.

The body and interior are all race-spec carbon fibre, built over a tube-frame chassis. A relatively small 50kW battery powers the motors and in full track attack mode, the van travels only 20km.

So it’s a Ford Transit with rubbish range, barely any payload capacity, no sliding doors nor anywhere to safely put your chocolate milk.

But its talents lie elsewhere, including record breaking.

Last month it snared the unofficial tin-top Bathurst lap record, registering a 1m56.3s tour of the 6.2km Mount Panorama circuit. That was more than 10 seconds faster than Broc Feeney’s Chevy Camaro pole lap for the same weekend’s Supercars race.

Double Le Mans 24-Hour winner Romain Dumas piloted the SuperVan for its record run. The outright unofficial Bathurst lap record of 1m48.9s is held by 2009 F1 World Champion Jenson Button in a McLaren MP4-23 Formula One car.

Unlike that F1 McLaren’s screaming petrol-powered V8, the Ford SuperVan is eerily silent as it flies past the Adelaide crowds.

For us inside, it’s a different story. Its electric motors may be quiet, but the high-pitched squeals of its front and rear mechanical differentials mean I can’t be heard even when screaming.

As I’m pummelled in my race seat, the SuperVan sounds like a giant radio controlled car’s whoosh fed through stadium rock speakers. Turned up to 11.

In a blink we’re at 240km/h on Adelaide’s short straight, and at that speed this giant-winged aerodynamic powerhouse generates an incredible two tonnes of downforce.

If there’s space, as there was at Bathurst, this 1800kg van will happily surge on to more than 300km/h.

I’ve driven or passengered in Le Mans cars, single-seat racers and million-dollar V12 exotica, but the SuperVan’s performance eclipsed them all.

When Lawson – who’s shared race tracks with Hamilton, Verstappen and Alonso – seems as blown away as I am, this must be the most wonderfully insane van ever created.

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