Never before has a person covered a distance of more than 1,219 kilometres powered purely by their own muscular strength within 24 hours. This is to change from July 28 to 29. At 10:00 a.m. Nicola “Nici” Walde will start her world record attempt at the Opel Test Center Rodgau-Dudenhofen. Her equipment is a three-wheel recumbent bicycle with a full fairing which can reach a maximum speed of 90 km/h. The so-called velomobile is an aerodynamically sophisticated one-of-a-kind machine, designed and built by Nici’s partner Daniel Fenn. The 44-year-old athlete will tackle the existing 24‑hour world record for women (1,012 kilometres) and men (1,219 kilometres). Born in Hamburg, she has held the 12-hour HPV world record (Human Powered Vehicles e.V.) for women since 2015. Opel is supporting the 24-hour marathon by providing the venue with the 4.8-kilometre long high-speed circuit. The brand is also Nici Walde’s mobility partner. The sportswoman will travel to Dudenhofen with her velomobile in an Opel Vivaro, and during the record ride the Opel Ampera-e will serve as a service vehicle. It is also a range champion, featuring an electric range of 520 kilometres (according to the New European Driving Cycle).
Opel supports this ambitious project because Nici Walde’s determination and attitude also reflect the spirit of the brand and the company: Believe in yourself, in success and in the future! #WeBelieve is the fitting motto and hashtag of the world record attempt.
Interim sprint on two wheels: Opel, the bicycle millionaire
Opel has a long tradition in cycling. Company founder Adam Opel’s five sons were themselves successful racing cyclists and a picture of the brothers on their five-seater – the Quintuplet – is iconic. Opel started manufacturing its own bicycles in 1886. It was thus one of the first companies to build bicycles in Germany, and was already the largest bicycle manufacturer in the world in the early 1920s. The one-millionth Opel bicycle was a single-piece production proudly presented to the public on July 21, 1926. And world records have also already been achieved: Belgian racing cyclist Léon Vanderstuyft set a world record on September 29, 1928 near Paris. With the legendary Opel ZR III racing bike converted for the track, he reached the incredible speed of 122.77 km/h behind his Swiss pacer Lehmann. This world record was to stand for more than 50 years. At the end of 1936, the Rüsselsheim-based company sold their production to NSU in Neckarsulm. A total of 2,621,965 bikes were built in 51 years.
But to this day, Opel engineers have still turned their attention to two and three-wheel concept vehicles a number of times. At the 2011 Frankfurt IAA, Opel presented the RAK-e, an electrically powered tandem seat model with a vehicle layout strongly reminiscent of a velomobile. The aerodynamically sophisticated RAK-e also has two wheels with a wider track on the front axle and is driven by closely mounted double rear wheels – very similar to a three-wheel recumbent bicycle. The study of a modern e-bike followed at the Geneva Motor Show in 2012. The RAD-e showed self-confident elements of Opel’s design philosophy and was already set to cover up to 45 kilometres purely electrically.
Opel Test Center Rodgau-Dudenhofen: Very familiar with world records
In 1972, Opel astounded the public with an exciting diesel project. With an aerodynamically optimised GT body, the Diesel GT set two world and 18 international records for diesel vehicles at the Opel Test Center Dudenhofen. Thanks to the turbocharger, the 2.1-litre engine produced what was at the time an astonishing 95 hp. For two days and three nights, the prototype was raced along the fast track by a team of racing drivers. The fastest clocked speed over a distance of one thousand metres with a flying start was 197 km/h! This was a sensational performance for a diesel 46 years ago.
In July 2003 the Opel Eco Speedster set 17 international records within 24 hours at the Opel Test Center Dudenhofen. Not only was the powertrain trimmed for high performance for the record drives with the diesel prototype, the Opel engineers also explored the limits of technology with regard to aerodynamics and weight. The two-seat vehicle was based on the production Speedster and had a carbon fibre body. The highly efficient mid-engine prototype with the spectacular long-tail body was powered by the world’s smallest four-cylinder diesel engine, which was also offered for the Opel Agila and Opel Corsa at that time (51 kW/70 hp).