Airspeeder in flight at EXA Series race

Adelaide, South Australia – “Every transformative moment in human transportation has been accelerated by motorsport. As we stand on the cusp of the 21st century’s great leap forward in delivering on the promise of flying cars, the role competition plays is as important as ever. For this reason, in winning the world’s first flying car race, Zephatali Walsh hasn’t just made motor sport history but writes his own chapter in the genesis of a mobility revolution. We look forward to delivering more races, more speeders, and more breathtaking moments, as we continue to push the boundaries of innovation and redefine the future of motorsport.” – Matt Pearson, Founder, Airspeeder 

OVERVIEW: 

In a groundbreaking moment that marks the dawn of a new era in motorsport and aerial mobility, Zephatali Walsh soared to victory, securing the title of Airspeeder‘s EXA Series 2023 Champion on 9th December 2023. The world’s first flying car race witnessed Walsh outpace formidable opponents Lexie Janson and Bruno Senna in Airspeeder’s inaugural three-speeder showdown in wet and windy conditions for the pilots.

Stonefield Airfield, South Australia provided the perfect backdrop for the inaugural three-speeder race. The challenging wet and windy conditions added an extra layer of complexity to the event, testing the mettle of the pilots and the capabilities of the Alauda Aeronautics Mk3s.

Zephatali Walsh’s triumphant performance showcased not only his racing prowess but also the adaptability and resilience of the Alauda Aeronautics Mk3s in adverse weather conditions. The race unfolded with precision and excitement, capturing the attention of the crowd gathered to witness this groundbreaking moment in aviation history.

The success of the event was made possible by the support of esteemed sponsors. The South Australia government, Intel, Acronis, IWC, Saltwater Games, and Telstra Purple played pivotal roles in making the three-speeder race a reality. Their commitment to pushing the boundaries of innovation and supporting the evolution of flying car racing contributed to the spectacle that unfolded.

The collaboration of visionary partners, including the South Australia government, Intel, Acronis, IWC, Saltwater Games, and Telstra Purple, underscores their dedication to shaping the future of aerial mobility. The groundbreaking three-craft race at Stonefield Airfield, South Australia, not only made history as the inaugural Airspeeder EXA Series but also marked a pivotal moment in motorsport innovation. With over 100 spectators in attendance, the race showcased cutting-edge technology, featuring innovative onboard cameras from EMG that streamed 4k live footage from all Speeders via RF. This marked a significant leap forward in race broadcasting, setting a new standard for immersive experiences. The event was also recorded as a live broadcast, with the NEP Group spearheading the initiative, turning the race into a dynamic testbed for future race broadcasts. The combination of live streaming and recorded broadcasts ensured that the excitement and thrill of the EVTOL race reached audiences worldwide.

A Glimpse into the Future of Racing

The EXA Series remotely piloted races, serving as the development and feeder series for the Airspeeder fully crewed Grand Prixs starting in 2024, showcased the potential of electric flying car racing. The competition unfolded over two sessions with rapid battery-swap pitstops, adding a strategic layer to the exhilarating races.

Qualifying for Pole Position:

Qualifying for pole position was a high-stakes battle, with each Speeder pilot taking to the race simulator for three laps on the Friday. Bruno Senna secured a pole starting position after claiming the fastest qualification time, setting the stage for the two thrilling races to follow on Saturday, 9th December at Stonefield.

RACES 1 & 2:

On Saturday, the races unfolded over three laps each, with batteries rapidly charged during breaks. Race starts were meticulously orchestrated and timed due to weather constraints, with Speederspouncing  off from a standing start on the pad in Pole formation, ensuring separation. The intricate race rules, including the use of Full Course Yellow and RTL procedures, added strategic layers to the competition. Points were awarded for each race, emphasizing the importance of podium finishes. The winners of each race earned valuable points, with the victorious pilot in each race receiving 10 points, the runner-up 6 points, and the third-place finisher securing 4 points.

This historic event marks not only the dawn of a new era in motorsport but also a giant leap toward the integration of flying cars into the fabric of our transportation future.

Zephatali Walsh showcased exceptional performance in Race 1, completing the lap in 1:13.180 and securing the fastest lap at the same impressive time. In Race 2, Walsh continued his dominance with a remarkable lap time of 0:13.857 in the second lap, followed by 0:53.342 and 0:55.193 in subsequent laps. Bruno Senna, despite facing challenges, demonstrated resilience with a competitive lap time of 1:16.238 and a commendable 0:55.958 in Race 2. Lexie Janson faced a tough battle, finishing Race 1 in 1:27.610 and struggling in Race 2 with lap times of 1:26.920, 1:00.363, and no recorded time in the third lap.

Zephatali Walsh’s consistently impressive performance, including the fastest lap in Race 2, highlights his exceptional skills and adaptability in varying race conditions. Despite facing challenges, Bruno Senna and Lexie Janson’s inability to finish their lap 3 in Race 2 and Bruno’s non-completion of a lap in Race 1 underscore the unpredictable nature of flying car racing. Zephatali Walsh’s strategic advantage, crossing more gates in Race 1 even with the red flag, positioned him on Pole for Race 2. These twists and turns in the competition highlight the technical complexities and strategic decision-making that contribute to the exhilarating nature of Airspeeder EXA races.

A PROVEN ECOSYSTEM FOR RACING:

Beyond making motorsport history, Alauda Aeronautics, the technical team and manufacturer of the pioneering Speeders that compete in EXA and Airspeeder races, has created an engineering and digital ecosystem for electric flying car (eVTOL) racing. This is an extraordinary technical accomplishment delivered by a team drawn from some of the most celebrated names in Formula 1, motorsport, and advanced aerospace development. This includes multi-World Championship-winning engineers from Ferrari and development talent from Boeing, Airbus, McLaren, Jaguar Land Rover, and Rolls-Royce.

To support this historic first race, they had to build race control stations, three pilot control stations with Next Level Racing, a Telstra Purple designed Augmented Reality (AR) Sky Track and media stack supported by Intel. Additionally, they had to develop race rules and a full suite of safety, logistics, and race management protocols. In turn, the technology used in racing is a snapshot of what our cities will be using in the next decade to underpin the emergence of electric flying cars (eVTOL) as a viable means of passenger transport.

This technical ecosystem starts with the 4.1-meter flying racing car (eVTOL), a carbon fiber full-scale racing quadcopter. At its heart, it is a performance machine, delivering a maximum power of 320kW, equaling an Audi SQ7 performance SUV. The Audi weighs 2,500kg, while an Airspeeder racing craft (without a pilot) weighs just 130kg. It can lift a weight of more than 80kg, proving the viability of the powertrain for piloted races. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 2.8 seconds, and the Speeder can climb to 500 meters.

The technical package proven in these inaugural EXA races will underpin future crewed Airspeeder races. The key safety and digital systems will not only drive the world’s most exciting new form of motorsport but will also serve as a place and a space for the automobile industry to develop eVTOL vehicles with real-world passenger applications. This collaborative approach to the development of not only a sport but the wider ecosystem will underpin the eVTOL mobility revolution extended to every one of Airspeeder and Alauda’s commercial and technical partners.

This started with a knowledge exchange between Alauda’s expert team of engineers and the designers and specialists at the company’s Engineering and Timekeeping partner, IWC Schaffhausen. This ongoing dialogue serves as a vital lighthouse in producing the highest quality racing machines with sustainability at the heart of their purpose and function.

The staging of the race was supported by the Government of South Australia, which has nurtured an ecosystem of the world’s leading space and advanced aerospace companies and a strong motorsport legacy. 

As the Official Intelligence Partner, Intel played a pivotal role in processing the immense volume of data at every stage of the competition. From the rigorous sim racing qualification rounds to monitoring vehicle performance and critical systems, including PCS power, data processing, and media, Intel’s expertise added a layer of precision to the execution of this monumental event.

JUST THE START:

These EXA races will serve as the feeder series for Airspeeder crewed races set to take place in 2024.

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