When Jaguar unveiled the new Jaguar I-PACE Concept in 2016 at the LA Auto Show and the E-Pace in 2017 during the Art of Performance Tour, testing was quietly already underway in preparations for a major shift in racing.
As the focus of Formula E Racing shifts to a second generation car, the upcoming 2019 season for Jaguar racing means more with the addition of the first Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY race team, led by three time IndyCar Champion and Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal.
In December 2018, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) will join the grid in the world’s first production-based electric vehicle race series. The RLL team announcement comes ahead of the start of the FIA Formula E championship and season opening race in Hong Kong where Panasonic Jaguar Racing will once again be on the track with drivers Nelson Piquet Jr. and Mitch Evans for the 2018-19 season.
The eTROPHY is a support series to the FIA Formula E Championship and the first to be based off of a street-legal production battery electric vehicle. Races will take place the same weekend, and on the same city street circuits, throughout the 2018-19 season.
But who will be driving the Jaguar I-PACE in the eTROPHY series?
Meet Katherine Legge.
During the final race of the 2018 Formula E season in New York City, RLL Racing announced that Legge will join as one of two drivers.
Within the action sports and racing industry, progression and innovation has always been a core value for growth and success. Whether it is a new trick landed or the skill to push the race car or motorcycle in the race to its utmost ability, zero emission motorsports signals a massive shift of focus for several racing industries.
Today electric technology growth and progression has allowed for racing to develop powerful electric powered cars as well as motorcycles able to compete side by side with traditional motor driven machines.
But, in many ways within the action sports/racing industry, there is still a stigma of electric cars and what limitations they have.
“In many ways, the evolution of what can be advanced in electric engines is still so early in development, but on the same token, the speed in which we are advancing the technology is moving at a pace that is unbelievably fast,” said James Barclay, Panasonic Jaguar Racing Team Director. “Competition breeds innovation. We are only four years into racing electric cars, but with several top tier manufacturers entering race teams into e-series races, a brand like Jaguar is forced to learn and develop quickly so we can remain competitive. There is no ceiling of limitations of progression, and to know that we can advance further than we can possibly imagine is an exciting position to be in.”
“Innovation is integral to motorsports and electric car racing is an important part of the future so this opportunity came at the perfect time for RLL,” said Rahal, Team Principal of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. “Anyone that thinks that Formula E is going to come and replace Formula 1, Indy Car or NASCAR for that matter doesn’t understand it. Formula E and the eTROPHY series is an addition to the pallet of racing appetites that people have. Unlike NASCAR and Indy Car that requires a checklist of specifications that must be followed, Formula E still has areas of development that are not spec that are crucial to the performance of the car. The exciting part of the technology development from the e-racing series will add value to the manufacture and bring about multiple benefits to a consumer and a race fan. That free and open nature to pursue innovation and car advancements will only make the e-racing series better. There is a lot of creativity that occurs within the e-series. Jaguar Racing is involved in so many places where racing and innovation occurs. Jaguar puts RLL in a position to spread the passion of racing internationally and push the growth of zero emission and electric motorsports.”
“With the cars having base specifications to work from, the racing comes down to which driver is the best behind the wheel adapting to the changing surface and car.” added Legge. “From a spectator standpoint, this creates a great racing environment to immerse yourself in.”
Jaguar Land Rover has showed their commitment to electric racing through their strategy from 2020 and beyond. Beginning in 2020, all new Jaguar Land Rover vehicles launched will be offered with an electrified/electric powertrain embracing fully electric, plug-in hybrid and mild hybrid vehicles.
By showcasing the power of electricity through the race teams in eTROPHY and the current Formula E team, Jaguar is set to change your opinion and show how it will benefit you as a consumer.
With other premium manufactures not entering teams into the eTROPHY series yet, why was it important for Jaguar to make this move now?
“We want to always be looking forward to what’s next and even be the manufacturer that creates that ground breaking project,” said Rahal. “Formula E as a series is always evolving. For us to be involved always allows us to push ourselves in development and find ways to remain at the forefront of premium auto brands. While we currently have Formula E, this new series eTROPHY, this will only be the beginning of what is to come from electric racing. The future of racing is strong. For us the idea of helping to evolve electric cars across the board from race cars to consumer vehicles is also special.”
The Formula E and eTROPHY circuits are unique in that the course is placed within the center of the city in places all over the world.
“Growing the community of racing and fans of racing is important and critical for survival in the industry,” said Barclay. “With the eTROPHY and Formula E series being in the city center, each race brings different demographics and different spectators. The race and the activities around the race in the community will allow us as a brand to reach so many different types of people to showcase the power of Jaguar and what racing is the joy of racing is all about. As the eTROPHY series begins next year and the constant evolution of Formula E provides a huge opportunity for growth and development from a race team perspective as well new fans of racing.”