Weathering the electric storm

The next decade is going to be incredibly huge for the future of motor sport. Despite top tier series making big gains in efficiency via electric and hybrid technology, it is the meteoric rise of the autonomous auto industry that should have sporting bodies concerned.

While regulatory bodies and insurance companies are currently playing catch up to the idea of autonomous driving, there will undoubtedly come a tipping point where insuring a human-piloted road vehicle will carry a higher premium than its autonomous counterpart. As such, interest in car racing as a human endeavour could take a hit – particularly touring cars, whose marketing budget still focus primarily on the showroom.

Perhaps then, it’s inevitable that audiences may flock to a series that features vehicles that are ‘unattainable’ to Joe Public; i.e. $100,000-plus supercars/sports cars. In this respect, the Electric GT series has positioned itself perfectly to capitalise of the potential of a motor sport mass exodus.

Electric GT also benefits enormously from the experience of Agustin Paya. The 42-year old driver has dedicated his (race) career to electric cars since 2009. After learning the basics of motor racing in go-karting, Payá switched to endurance racing, drove a Formula 3000 car and fell in love with electric cars in 2009. The Spaniard was soon being appointed as development driver for MB electric cars. The past two years he became champion in the Electro Races (ECORaces) in Spain and co-drove in the ACCIONA ECO Team – the first time in the 37-year history of the Dakar Rally that a fully electric vehicle completed a stage.

Races should last around 45 minutes, which is on par with MotoGP, so the format should click with race fans and potentially TV audiences that don’t want a chunk of their weekend taken up with processional racing. The series also appears to have hit the ground running with a team made up of TV presenters, sporting managers and event promoters. That’s more than FOTA had when they were threatening an F1 breakaway series!

Catalunya, Donington, Assen, Estoril and Nurburgring GP track are just some of the circuits planned to host the series. Considerations were made in choosing these tracks in terms of charging facilities and audience interaction.

Electric GT have already expressed an open invitation to companies such as Aston Martin to join the series. If they and indeed Porsche and Jaguar decided to jump in, quite a bit of ground work would need to be put in in terms of regulating the category (power-to-weight parity being the biggest hurdle) to ensure equal competition and maintaining manufacturer interest. Nevertheless, given the surge in funds directed towards EV development one suspects that a multi-manufacturer electric touring car championship is inevitable.