Jaguar’s new elec­tric tin-top racer

It may sound like a pe­cu­liar feat of random cap­i­tal­i­sa­tion, but the Jaguar I-PACE etro­phy is a one-make se­ries with a po­ten­tially elec­tri­fy­ing dif­fer­ence



When the 2018-19 ABB FIA For­mula E sea­son gets un­der way at the Ad Diriyah E-prix next month, the elec­tric cham­pi­onship will have a proper sup­port­ing act for the first time. Present at nine rounds on FE’S sea­son-five cal­en­dar, with a 10-race sched­ule (there will be two at the New York round), the Jaguar I-PACE etro­phy se­ries will run along­side the main cham­pi­onship. The new com­pe­ti­tion will pit iden­ti­cal I-PACE race mod­els in events last­ing 25 min­utes plus one lap fol­low­ing ded­i­cated prac­tice and qual­i­fy­ing ses­sions. The se­ries is an ‘ar­rive-and-drive’ com­pe­ti­tion, for which Jaguar will pro­vide tech­ni­cal and lo­gis­ti­cal sup­port for its com­peti­tors, as well as spares and hospitality. “We are one-make – they’re all iden­ti­cal, they’re all run in-house – and it’s the world’s first elec­tric pro­duc­tion ve­hi­cle one-make se­ries,” ex­plains Jaguar’s etro­phy cham­pi­onship man­ager Mar­ion Barn­aby. The etro­phy race cars are mod­i­fied ver­sions of Jaguar’s re­cently re­leased I-PACE elec­tric SUV, with a spec body kit and rac­ing set-up. Un­like FE, the etro­phy driv­ers will be able to push flat-out from start to fin­ish with­out hav­ing to worry about en­ergy sav­ing or bat­tery man­age­ment. “We wanted that from-start-to-fin­ish ap­proach, par­tic­u­larly for sea­son one,” ex­plains Stu­art Ad­lard, se­nior ve­hi­cle en­gi­neer­ing man­ager at Jaguar Land Rover spe­cial ve­hi­cle op­er­a­tions. “You’ve got less com­mu­ni­ca­tion in­volved and you haven’t got to man­age dif­fer­ent set­tings. The car is en­gi­neered so that it will main­tain its per­for­mance from the start to the end of the race.” Although the car is sup­plied as a stan­dard item for all teams, they will be able to ad­just bump and re­bound on the dampers, tune roll­bar set­tings – there are two po­si­tions avail­able at the front and three at the rear – and tweak front and rear brake bal­ance and ABS in­ter­ven­tion. The cars are charged by 50kw portable charg­ers and have a left-hand-drive set-up for “syn­er­gies to the road car and en­gi­neer­ing sim­plic­ity,” ac­cord­ing to Ad­lard. Though it closely re­sem­bles the road car, the rac­ing ver­sion of the I-PACE has a com­pletely new front end – a new bon­net and new front wings, plus wider wheel arches and cool­ing gills. The bon­net is unique and per­forms in a very dif­fer­ent way to the road car, which has a much more closed-off grill be­cause it doesn’t need to take in any­where near as much air. The etro­phy ma­chine also fea­tures a wider front bumper, a big car­bon­fi­bre front split­ter to re­duce front-end lift, a rear spoiler and “the com­pletely new rear ven­turi to help bal­ance what we’ve done at the front of the ve­hi­cle,” says Wayne Burgess, pro­duc­tion stu­dio direc­tor at Jaguar, who led the cre­ative de­sign team for the I-PACE road and etro­phy cars. “The road I-PACE re­ally was driven by the aero­dy­namic per­for­mance of the ve­hi­cle,” he con­tin­ues. “And you can see that in its aes­thet­ics – it’s very sheer sided, it has no Coke bot­tle, it isn’t tapered like F-type or E-type. And that’s all been about im­prov­ing the aero­dy­namic per­for­mance of the car, re­duc­ing drag. Be­cause of course with elec­tric ve­hi­cles, the lower the drag, the bet­ter the range po­ten­tial.” As an all-new cham­pi­onship, and only the sec­ond full-elec­tric se­ries to suc­cess­fully get to the point of rac­ing, the etro­phy is forg­ing its own path in the mo­tor­sport land­scape. It is par­tic­u­larly novel at this stage – E WTCR has been an­nounced along­side the long-de­layed Elec­tric Pro­duc­tion Car Se­ries (Elec­tric GT), Mo­toe and the post­poned elec­tric World Ral­lycross – be­cause


it strad­dles both the tra­di­tional pro­duc­tion-based tour­ing car sphere, al­beit with an SUV twist, and elec­tric rac­ing. “At present, no­body is a com­peti­tor”, says Barn­aby. “But it’s com­ing – ev­ery man­u­fac­turer, you see an­nounce­ments ev­ery week – as peo­ple are say­ing, ‘We’re not go­ing to build any more diesel en­gines by this time.’ Elec­tric is com­ing and the more peo­ple in au­to­mo­tive that are com­ing over to this sec­tor, they’re go­ing to be mak­ing race cars. We’re on the For­mula E pack­age so it’s more vis­i­ble, and up and run­ning.” At the time of writ­ing, the com­peti­tors an­nounced for the in­au­gu­ral etro­phy sea­son are Ra­hal Let­ter­man Lani­gan Rac­ing, which will run Kather­ine Legge and Bryan Sell­ers, Jaguar Brazil Rac­ing (Caca Bueno and Ser­gio Jimenez), Team Asia New Zealand (Si­mon Evans, older brother of Jaguar FE racer Mitch), and Team Ger­many (Celia Martin). Fur­ther multi-car en­tries are ex­pected from teams hail­ing from Saudi Ara­bia and China. These are set to be an­nounced be­fore the first race takes place and the squads fea­tured in the cham­pi­onship’s pre-sea­son tests at Sil­ver­stone and Rock­ing­ham. Jaguar also plans to field its own en­try that will be oc­cu­pied by “fa­mous faces from the world of mo­tor­sport and be­yond”, ac­cord­ing to the man­u­fac­turer, for one-off out­ings. “It’s a very in­ter­na­tional cham­pi­onship – as you see from the flags on the bon­nets,” ex­plains Barn­aby. “The peo­ple that are com­ing through can see this is some­thing you need to be part of from the be­gin­ning, be­cause once you have this knowl­edge of driv­ing an elec­tric ve­hi­cle from the start, you can then move on to more things as well.” That po­ten­tial for ca­reer pro­gres­sion in rac­ing raises an in­ter­est­ing ques­tion – could the etro­phy ac­tu­ally be­come a feeder se­ries for FE? Given the high torque, low-grip skills re­quired in both se­ries and the knowl­edge gleaned from rac­ing on the same unique city-cen­tre cir­cuits, Si­mon Evans does not rule out an etro­phy driver grad­u­at­ing to the flag­ship elec­tric se­ries. “You’ve got to keep an open mind about it [pro­gres­sion to FE],” says the 2014-15 V8 Su­per­tour­ers New Zealand cham­pion. “All the For­mula E teams are go­ing to be watch­ing it so I think it’s a pro­gres­sion be­cause they’re prob­a­bly go­ing to have very sim­i­lar driv­ing styles, I’d imag­ine, be­tween the cars – though no one has done back-to-back tests so far. So if you go well here, it could open up some doors for a fu­ture in For­mula E.” Given the size­able pro­por­tions of the I-PACE cars and the tight con­fines of a typ­i­cal FE street cir­cuit, etro­phy races will no doubt be dis­tin­guished by plenty of con­tact. Evans reck­ons the ac­tion is go­ing to be “su­per-close” so, with plen­ti­ful car-to-car clashes on of­fer, tour­ing car fans should find plenty to in­ter­est them. And since the prize fund is in ex­cess of £500,000, there’s a lot rid­ing on it for the driv­ers too.

“Like any pro­duc­tion se­ries around the world there’s go­ing to be some con­tact, and it’s on street cir­cuits so I think the rac­ing is ac­tu­ally go­ing to be pretty ex­cit­ing,” Evans says. “It’s go­ing to be tough to pass, but driv­ers from all se­ries try to find a way to pass.” Given the like­li­hood that the races will fea­ture a healthy amount of tour­ing car-style panel-bash­ing, Jaguar has de­signed the etro­phy car with easy re­pairabil­ity in mind. There will also be two spare cars at ev­ery race, and Jaguar and the event stew­ards will de­cide on al­lo­ca­tion should they be needed. “A lot of the new stuff we’ve put on the car is eas­ily re­mov­able,” ex­plains Ad­lard. “So the front fend­ers, for ex­am­ple, bumpers, the split­ters – all those parts come off rel­a­tively eas­ily. That’s been a con­sid­er­a­tion in terms of en­gi­neer­ing the new car – how they at­tach and de­tach.” The etro­phy was first an­nounced back in Sep­tem­ber 2017, and Ra­hal Let­ter­man Lani­gan Rac­ing com­mit­ted to its en­try two months later. But, be­yond RLLR re­veal­ing Legge as its first driver, most of the grid wasn’t pub­li­cally an­nounced un­til a year later. Barn­aby says the long wait for team and driver an­nounce­ments was be­cause the con­cept of the se­ries was so un­usual. “The idea was there and the pro­gramme was there, but a lot of peo­ple are in their rac­ing pro­grammes – be­cause we race in the off-sea­son for a lot of peo­ple,” she ex­plains. “Also it was about un­der­stand­ing ex­actly what we’re do­ing, be­cause up un­til now we’ve been sell­ing a pic­ture. Now it’s real – the cars are out there. It’s been a huge un­der­tak­ing by all the team – we had to get ev­ery­body in place – just prep­ping our­selves and in sell­ing the en­tries as we’ve been go­ing.” Since the I-PACE was the first elec­tric SUV from a ma­jor Euro­pean man­u­fac­turer to hit the mar­ket, the think­ing be­hind the etro­phy se­ries from Jaguar’s point of view is ob­vi­ous. The tie-up with FE, which Barn­aby says is “100%” be­hind the new se­ries, came as a re­sult of Jaguar’s ex­ist­ing com­mit­ment to elec­tric rac­ing. “Be­cause we were the first man­u­fac­turer into For­mula E, it’s a nat­u­ral fit,” says Barn­aby. “We could see from our rac­ing her­itage as well – we needed to build a pro­gramme our­selves. And so we were for­tu­nate to be on the pro­gramme and to have the fore­sight to see there was space for a sup­port race.” From an FE per­spec­tive, the re­cent in­flux of man­u­fac­tur­ers to the cham­pi­onship has been a rolling cy­cle of good news. With the ad­di­tion of a sup­port se­ries, and one given the full back­ing and sup­port of a ma­jor FE stake­holder, it has found the next log­i­cal step. Ul­ti­mately, the start of the etro­phy also rep­re­sents a good step for mo­tor­sport as a new cham­pi­onship fea­tur­ing in­ter­est­ing and rel­e­vant road tech­nol­ogy en­ters the arena. If it ful­fils the prom­ise of the tech – and the po­ten­tial for paint-trad­ing ac­tion around nine of the world’s ma­jor cities – it should be quite a spec­ta­cle.

Team na­tion­al­i­ties will be dis­tin­guish­able by flags on the bon­nets

One of For­mula E’s strong suits is the city-cen­tre lo­ca­tion of the rac­ing GRIF­FITHS/LAT

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