Inside Electric pick the essential electric motorsport series you should be watching this year.
It’s the biggest electric championship out there and will be entering its seventh season in 2020. This year Formula E also gained FIA World Championship status and the title fight will be bigger than ever.
With fresh blood on the scene in the shape of rookies Nick Cassidy and Jake Dennis, big team changes for Sam Bird to Jaguar and Pascal Wehrlein to Porsche, as well as drivers like Lucas di Grassi desperate for his one last shot at being crowned drivers’ champion with Audi before their departure, the 2019/20 season looks to be as juicy as ever.
Despite the departure of Audi and BMW at the end of this season, almost all teams have a competitive packages. With Formula E being so unpredictable, we could easily see at least half the grid in championship-winning machines all battling to take the drivers’ title from António Félix da Costa.
Although the season opener in Santiago has been delayed due to COVID-19, fans hope that the rest of the calendar can run as planned. Last year we saw a bulk of six races in nine days around the Tempelhof Airport Street Circuit, however, Formula E are working with the necessary authorities to reschedule the event in the first few months of 2021.
Probably the most-talked-about racing series to make its debut this year. Founded by Formula E’s brainchild, Alejandro Agag, this off-road all-electric series has attracted big attention over the last few months for a good number of reasons.
Firstly, the names associated with Extreme E: both the drivers competing and those that have founded their own teams. Seven-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton announced last year that he was to launch his own Extreme E team, with his old F1 rival Nico Rosberg also confirming his participation with Rosberg Xtreme Racing just a month later. The two F1 world champions will be joined by the likes of Andretti, Chip Ganassi Racing, Veloce and ABT to name a few.
In terms of drivers competing, it’s a star-studded list. Rally legends including two-time World Rally champion Carlos Sainz and nine-time WRC champ Sébastien Loeb make up a stunning list of drivers that also include Jamie Chadwick, Catie Munnings, and Mattias Ekström.
Extreme E has taken the step to introduce the rule of one female and one male driver in teams to make for more opportunities and a better gender balance in the championship.
Fans will have to wait until March for the first season to get underway after a slight delay caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
MoTOE and TT Zero
From off-road rallying to two-wheeled action, the MotoE championship will return for a third season in 2021. With seven races at six different locations, it’s a short calendar compared to MotoGP of which it’s a support series for.
Jordi Torres was crowned the champion last season in just his first year of MotoE. All riders use the Energica Ego Corsa motorcycle too.
For other electric bike fans, there is also the TT Zero which is held over the Isle of TT weekend and is specifically for motorcycles that do not produce emissions or are powered without the use of carbon-based fuels. The race has run since 2010 but was unable to go ahead last year due to COVID-19 cancelling the event.
Another series due to make its debut this year is PURE ETCR. The touring car championship has already enticed manufacturers such as Hyundai and Alfa Romeo and had their official launch event at the end of last year.
The ‘battle race’ format that the series will run is more reminiscent of rallycross than a traditional touring car race, with short and sharp knock-out ‘battle races’. From this, the fastest few will be sent through to a finale and a winner crowned from that.
A series of ‘demonstration’ events were scheduled to take place last year, but the global pandemic affected plans as you would expect. There have been minimal updates as to the future of the series and if it will still go ahead as planned in 2021, but in a New Year’s post on their social media they told fans “see you soon in 2021” so we can certainly hope!
Now, although it’s not necessarily an all-electric championship, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is always worth a watch. The track, nicknamed the ‘race to the clouds’ is a 12.42 miles long trail climbing over 4,720 ft and is the ultimate Hillclimb.
The reason we mention it in here is that an electric vehicle now holds the record. Back in 2018, Frenchman Romain Dumas set an outstanding time of 7:57.148 up Pikes Peak. It was achieved in the prototype Volkswagen I.D. R and was Volkswagen’s first attempt at an electric racing car. Dumas’ time was also the first-ever to break the seven-minute barrier in the PPIHC’s 96-year history.
The deadline for competitors is mid-January for the 2021 event, so we will wait to see if any special electric prototypes will be making their debut at the event.
Projekt E also made its debut in 2020, but to some criticism. With a heavily disrupted season because of the coronavirus outbreak, it was unable to run as many events as scheduled and ended up awarding the inaugural championship to Natalie Barratt because she was the only driver to compete in the two events on the calendar.
It did have some high points though with rallycross legend Ken Block taking victory at the first-ever Projekt E event, however, there were only three participants. It’s hoped that 2021 will be a better year for the series.