A 300bhp Jaguar racing against a person probably doesn’t sound like a fair match – but when that person’s Olympic champion speed skater Shaolin Sandor Liu, and your track of choice is the world’s longest artificial ice circuit, it’s a race that could easily go either way…
3km of slick ice
When applied to tarmac through grippy tyres, power is a must in any head-to-head race – but when your surface of choice is ice, power is often a hindrance.
Ordinarily, the new Jaguar XE 300 Sport would accelerate from 0-60mph in 5.4 seconds, thanks to its 300bhp 2.0-litre Ingenium petrol engine. However, that acceleration is little use without grip – and Shaolin’s 44.5cm high-speed blades are made with only ice in mind.
11 tight turns
As if the lack of traction wasn’t going to be hair-raising enough, the 3km ice track is made up of 11 tight turns – many of them hairpins that require careful negotiation. A speed skater’s specialist skates are made for this job – and there’s no question that Shaolin’s got the ability to push hard through the bends.
That said, the Jaguar team didn’t come unprepared. While the XE was running on standard tyres, it has the firm’s advanced all-wheel drive system and a series of sophisticated traction control technologies onboard. How would the Jaguar handle when the going-got-slippy?
Shaolin is perfectly at home on the ice. His gold medal performances started in the World Junior Championships, and he’s continued that collection impressively, with further golds in the 2017 and 2019 European Championships, the 2016 and 2018 World Championships, and as a part of the 5000m relay team at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Games.
Against Shaolin, the Jaguar team pitted Sean Haughey; their Stability Development Leader. If there was someone who would understand the limits of the XE’s grip – it was going to be Sean.
To make things interesting, Jaguar decided to take a special passenger along for the ride. Elise Christie isn’t just a Team GB short track speed skater with 13 gold medals in an impressive career record – she’s also Shaolin’s girlfriend…
With the car’s ability to grip in question, Shaolin took to the ice first, laying down an incredible 4 minute 4 second lap around the track at the Flevonice circuit in the Netherlands.
“I thought I would have a big advantage over the car on the ice and was pretty happy with my time considering the conditions, but when I saw the XE 300 SPORT take off from the start line, I had a feeling it would be faster.” – Shaolin Sandor Liu
Shaolin’s instincts were correct, despite struggling to find grip initially, the Jaguar’s traction control and stability systems took over and helped the big-power XE maintain an incredible 36mph average around the sheet-ice track. Sean Haughey pushed the car to the limits that his team created – and as an ice-going expert, Elise’s composure held well as the big cat’s tyres bit exactly when it was needed.