The car rally has been in the dark in recent years, not least because of its environmentally polluting character.

Opel hopes to breathe new life into the phenomenon with electric rally cars.

With cars without exhaust gas, the cold is of course not completely out of the blue.

Rallying remains controversial, also because of the risk of accidents and damage to nature from racing at high speed on hard and unpaved roads.

But in some countries the sport is still very popular and many car manufacturers still make good use of it.

Such as Opel, which is debuting its electric Opel Corsa-e Rally on the German rally paths this month.

He shares many genes with the street version on which he is based.

The ordinary Corsa-e is by no means a stirring tearing iron.

Even its strong pulling power, a positive characteristic of electric cars, and the resulting acceleration from 0 to 100 kilometers per hour in 8.1 seconds hardly challenge a rally driver.

On the other hand, enough crucial changes have been made to turn the car into a machine with which young talents can learn the rally business, concludes AutoWeek after a first driving experience with this car.

The most important changes can be found under the skin

The motor and 50 kWh battery pack have been left untouched.

However, a new 'cooling strategy' has been developed, controlled by a separate control unit.

The necessary reinforcements have been applied to the body and a number of lighter body parts have been mounted.

Of course the interior has been stripped and equipped with a roll cage and racing fairings.

However, the most important changes are under the skin.

The Rally has a serious sports suspension, which is partly adjustable.

Finally, special attention is paid to safety.

For example, an extra 5 millimeter thick aluminum protective plate is mounted under the battery pack.

Red hazard warning lights will also illuminate on both the exterior and interior if there is a problem with the high-voltage electrical system.

In the event of a crash, the car switches itself off within a second.

The cars are delivered ready-to-use by Opel for 49,900 euros.

The so-called Opel e-Rally Cup will be in action this year in seven rallies: six German and one Czech.

The first concerns the ADAC Rallye Stemweder Berg on 11 and 12 June.

A charging station must be built at every rally

Opel has not only invested a lot of energy in the car, but also in the charging infrastructure.

After all, rally cars are in action for a long time, with about six to eight special stages a day and many connectors.

At full load, the range of the Corsa-e Rally is only about 60 kilometers, so frequent power needs to be 'refueled'.

That is why Opel builds a charging station on the paddock at every rally.

"We just get power from the public network. Even if we're in a meadow somewhere, connection is never far away," says an employee of eLoaded, the company responsible for the infrastructure.

"Thanks to a total capacity of 2,000 kW, eighteen cars can easily charge at the same time. Each charging point can supply 280 kWh, but because the Corsa-e feeds with a maximum of 100 kWh, we have limited that to 120 kWh. In about half an hour, the batteries are about 80 percent full again. That is why the race schedule has been set up in such a way that the Corsas enter the service park first and are the last to leave."

Two trucks are needed to build the charging park

Green electricity is purchased for each event.

Furthermore, a large, mobile transformer is needed for the conversion from AC to DC and four water coolers are installed.

In total, two trucks with equipment are needed to set up the charging park with four people in one day.

Even so, you still do not always come out with the range.

Especially at rallies where two or three longer special stages are run in succession.

Sometimes the Corsas therefore have a slightly shorter program than the other participants and, for example, they only drive fifteen of the twenty tests.

Additional stops are also planned to top up.

Former racing driver Sandor van Es extensively tested the Opel Corsa e-Rally for AutoWeek. You can read about his experiences in this report. More information about the regular Opel Corsa-e can be found on this page of AutoWeek.