The Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy race series has been confirmed to begin on December 15, 2018, in Ad Diriyah, Saudi Arabia. This is a one-make series, with participants competing in race-honed Jaguar I-Paces. The I-Pace cars for the series are provided by Jaguar’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) division.
A field of up to 20 cars will race in 10 rounds of the eTrophy spaced during the Formula E weekend schedule of 10 events in the 2018/19 season, giving the eTrophy a role similar to that of the Formula 1-supporting Porsche Supercup.
Each of the 10 rounds of the all-electric race series will be held in a different country – except the last two races, which will both take place in New York. Curiously, despite Jaguar being a UK-based brand, no UK race has been planned. Each race will last 25min and one final lap, and the prize for the winner is in excess of £5,00,000 (a little more than Rs 4.7 crore).
Qualifying and practice rounds will come before each race, the last of which takes place on July 15, 2019. Each race will also have a celebrity driver competing, who may or may not be from the motorsport sphere.
To prepare the all-electric I-Pace SUV for the harsh racing environment, SVO will equip it with competition suspension, a roll cage and other track-spec modifications such as a fixed rear wing and diffuser.
Jaguar has yet to confirm the power output of the road-going production I-Pace SUV, let alone the racer. However, the concept that previews it offers some insight into the performance we can expect. The production I-Pace will use two electric motors – one at the front and one at the rear – with a combined output of 400hp and 695Nm of torque. Energy will be supplied by a 90kWh lithium-ion battery. The production car will have a 0-100kph time of 4.5sec, but the race-focused performance model could be enhanced with an increased output and a reduced kerb weight.
Additionally, ABB will be serving as the official charging partner for the series. As part of this partnership, ABB will provide custom-made, compact fast chargers to each of the participating teams. Specially designed for the series, the Terra DC fast chargers will be capable of quickly charging the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy racecars in the short breaks between practice, qualifying and the races.
Jaguar's Formula E programme fields two cars in the Panasonic Jaguar Racing team. Last year, Jaguar was using the development of this programme to speed-up the progress of its I-Pace road model. The launch of the I-Pace one-make racing series can be seen as another way to boost the appeal of Jaguar’s first electric car – described by the brand’s Formula E team director James Barclay as being a “driver’s car” that “maximises performance”.
Jaguar Racing chairman Gerd Mäuser said, “We’ve always said we want to prove our electrification technologies on the track – this is the proof. I am looking forward to seeing a full grid of Jaguar I-Pace race cars in late-2018, soon after the first Jaguar I-Pace hits the road in Europe. Ultimately, this innovative series will enhance the technology in our future electric vehicles and benefit our customers.”
The launch of the eTrophy series will help pad out the weekend schedule for Formula E – which so far has lacked a support series. The driverless Roborace series was supposed to fill some of this void, but unfortunately, its introduction has been delayed.
“I’m delighted that we will be adding to our race-day schedule with a competitive new support series for season five,” said Formula E founder and CEO Alejandro Agag. “The Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy will bring more entertainment for fans in-between sessions and will be a further testament to the advances in battery technology and exciting electric performance.”
Jaguar’s eTrophy series looks set to be the world’s first FIA-sanctioned international production-based electric vehicle series. It can't lay the overall claim to being the first electric production racing championship, though – that title goes to the Electric GT series, which uses the Tesla Model S.