NASCAR Whelen Euro Series adds another oval race for 2015

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The first NASCAR oval race in Tours, France, was so well received that the track was built into a permanent structure and has become the signature race of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series.

The format was so popular with fans and competitors, NASCAR announced today the 2015 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series calendar will feature a second oval track on the schedule.

The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series will hold six race weekends involving seven European countries, highlighted by the addition of Raceway Venray, a half-mile oval in Venray, Limburg, Holland, on the border of Germany. The series will also feature a new championship round site: Circuit Zolder in Belgium.

The series will return to Tours Speedway, located outside of Paris, France, for the fourth year. The four-event regular season will also feature stops at Valencia, Spain, and Brands Hatch in England.

The semifinal round will take place at Magione in Italy before the 2015 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series champion is crowned in Belgium.

The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series holds two races per weekend for its two divisions, Elite 1 and 2, providing for 24 NASCAR races to be held across Europe.

“We are very proud of this calendar which is the result of collaboration with great tracks and partners,” said Jerome Galpin, NASCAR Whelen Euro Series President and CEO. “This is the first time in our history that every event will be fully dedicated to our Series.”

“We have seen this year in Valencia, Brands Hatch and Tours Speedway, how much our partners, fans, teams and drivers enjoy true NASCAR events. We can definitely promise them even more NASCAR action and fun this coming year.”

  • The season will kick-off once again at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain with the second edition of the Valencia NASCAR Fest on April 25-26. Yann Zimmer and Ander Vilarino earned Elite 1 wins this year on the 14-turn, 2.517-mile (4.005 km) course.
  • The series will race for the first time at Raceway Venray on May 16-17. Located at the border between Holland and Germany, the .55 mile (.880 km) long, 23-degrees banked oval will make its debut in the Whelen Euro Series calendar and will pose new challenges to European drivers and teams.
  • Road course racing will be king in June: Brands Hatch Circuit in Fawkham, Kent, England, will host the hugely successful American SpeedFest on June 6-7. Eddie Cheever III scored his first NASCAR win this year on the six-turn, 1.198 mile (1.929 km) layout.
  • The classic weekend on the .45-mile (.750 km) Tours Speedway – the European “Daytona 500” – will take place in downtown Tours one week earlier than the last three editions, on June 27-28, closing the Regular Season.
  • After the summer break, the playoffs – awarding double points – will begin in Magione, Umbria, Italy, at the Autodromo dell’Umbria di Magione, on September 12-13. The 11-turn, 1.558-mile (2.507 km) course will host the semifinal round for the second year in a row.
  • The championship will then be decided in a brand new event on the 10-turn 2.492-mile (4.011 km) Circuit Zolder in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium on Oct. 3-4. The iconic Belgian track is the perfect place to host the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Finals and welcome NASCAR fans from all over Europe.

“The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series has brought to fans, tracks and sponsors the familiar close-competition and family-friendly entertainment that is the hallmark of NASCAR,” said George Silbermann, NASCAR Vice President, Regional and Touring Series. “Next year’s schedule, featuring a blend of classic road courses and exciting ovals, will showcase the full spectrum of our competitors’ skill and offers something for every racing fan.”

2015 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Schedule

Date Races Event Length and Type
April 25

April 26

Spain 1

Spain 2

Valencia NASCAR Fest

Ricardo Tormo

4.005 Km / 2.489 mi Road Course
May 16

May 17

Holland/Germany 1

Holland/Germany 2

Raceway Venray 0.880 km / 0.550 mi Oval
June 6

June 7

Great Britain 1

Great Britain 2

American Speedfest

Brands Hatch

1.944 km / 1.208 mi Road Course
June 27

June 28

France 1

France 2

Courses NASCAR

Tours Speedway

0.725 km / 0.450 mi Oval
September 12

September 13

Italy – ½ Final 1

Italy – ½ Final 2

Magione American Style

Autodromo dell’Umbria

2.507 km / 1.558 mi Road Course
October 3

October 4

Belgium – Final 1

Belgium – Final 2

Circuit Zolder 4.011 km / 2.492 mi Road Course

 

NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E and Ian James set to race ahead of electric motorsports’ curve

James McLaren Formula E
NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team
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As Formula E enters their ninth season and McLaren Racing is set to compete in last year’s championship winning car, Ian James is passionate about pushing electric motorsports forward at a critical stage as race technology begins surpassing that of the street cars.

Midseason, McLaren acquired the assets of the Mercedes-EQ team as they were already on their way to winning a second consecutive championship. With those assets in place and coming off a successful debut in the Extreme E series, James is set to usher in a new era in electric car racing.

Last week’s announcement that Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast behind the wheel of the NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team was the last piece of the puzzle.

McLaren’s electric portfolio is building with the Formula E team coming one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour. There were a lot of lessons to learn in that series with growing pains during the first three of five rounds. Rounds 4 and 5 were a completely different matter with the team crossing the finish line first in Chile before being assessed a time penalty.

In the final round in Uruguay, they scored an elusive podium.

“McLaren kicked off the season in Extreme E at the beginning of this year, so our first [electric] race took place Neom, actually out in Saudi,” NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team Principal James told NBC Sports. “At the time, we were in very early discussions about opportunities with the Formula E team. I actually went out there to meet with Zak [Brown, CEO McLaren Racing] and that was my first taste of Extreme E.

“Since the transition, I joined them in Chile in Atacama Desert, and then Uruguay last weekend. [The second-place finish was] a lovely way to round out the season. The fact that they got that podium. It was very well deserved. It’s a great team and a great series actually. It’s just so very different from anything else. The team’s done a great job in getting set up, and it’s nice now to, we’re trying to use that momentum that we’ve got from Uruguay to get us into next season when it kicks off next year, which will be great. I think we’re mid-March is looking like the first race, so a little bit of time to get things prepped for that.”

 

James McLaren Formula E
The NEOM Mclaren Racing Formula E Team was created through the acquisition of last year’s championship team from Mercedes-EQ. – NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team

Synergies exist between the single seater and rally series. Lessons learned about battery power and sustainability in the electric SUV carry over so long as one is mindful of keeping focus on the individual needs and nuances of each series.

Especially now that electric racing technology has caught up, and is ready to surpass, the existing technology that has gone into building street cars.

When internal combustion engines gained the upper hand soon after automobiles were invented, racing paced alongside. The pressure of competition pushed the development of their commercial equivalents. The same has not necessarily been true of electric cars. Street cars were not designed to undergo the same stress as racecars – and that vulnerability showed up on the racetrack.

“Formula E has come along a long way,” James said. “I think one of the most notable developments is in the battery technology. In Gen 1, you had the drivers jumping from one car to another car midrace because the battery technology and capacity simply wasn’t where it needed to be to do the full distance. That obviously changed in Gen 2 and we saw a power increase as well to the 250 kilowatts.

“Now going to Gen 3, we have 350 kilowatts in a smaller battery. But that means that we’re relying on the regeneration of energy and for that reason, we’ve got also the opportunity to regenerate on the front axle as well as the rear axle now. So, there’s all sorts of things that are developing in the right direction.

“In terms of throttle response, actually, we’re now in a situation with electric racing and the motors that it’s instantaneous. And one of the advantages of electric over combustion engine is that the torque is instantaneous as well, so that gives you a lot more room to play with.”

No matter the power source, racing has always been about resource management. Drivers and teams select tire strategies they believe produce the fastest elapsed time and fuel conservation comes into play.

On one hand, electric racing is the same, but there is a critical difference. With the battery as both the power source and an integral part of the engine, there are multiple reasons to manage it.

In electric racing, the brain of the car is the software – and that is where James sees the greatest room for advancement.

“As we are working with our drivers and engineers – and start to look at functionality to improve our efficiency and our performance, that’s something we’ll continue to push because that development is open throughout the season,” James said. “That’s going to be our focus going forward and provides enough of a challenge for us to get our teeth into.

“What’s going to be fascinating is as Formula E continues, is to really look at which areas of development on the car are going to be the most relevant and ensuring that we can focus on those together with the manufacturers so we continue and use the series as a platform for technical development that can then feed back into the road car side of things as well.

“At the end of the day, that’s what motorsports always been, a very powerful tool for, and I see Formula E as no exception.”

James McLaren Formula E
Jake Hughes and Rene Rast were chosen for their ability to drive fast and execute the necessary strategy for energy management. – NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team

Selecting Rast and Hughes as McLaren’s Formula E drivers was not simply because they know how to drive fast. James believes both drivers have the mental aptitude to execute energy management strategies throughout the race and squeeze maximum performance.

“As with many other motorsports, you’ve got a certain amount of energy that you’re able to deploy during the race and the management of that energy is absolutely crucial,” James said. “What we’re seeing typically in electric motorsports now is the hardware side of things. The efficiencies that we’re seeing in the powertrain as a whole, they’re getting up to the sort of 96%, 97%, 98% efficiency, so the gains that you get through that further and further become more marginal.”

With much more room for improvement, software is a different matter. To make the best decisions, the drivers need data, and that is where James believes McLaren Formula E will make their greatest impact.

“And then you really switch that focus to the software and that’s where you’re going to see the most the most improvement and the most gains,” James continued. “It’s then using that software to ensure that you’re deploying the energy in the most efficient manner during race, and thereby giving the driver the most performance. And that’s something which is incredibly complicated, but I find it a fascinating area to work in.

“The benefit of being involved in racing is you can really push the envelope in a way that you can’t do on road cars. And I think that that’s where that value comes in. It means that you accelerate the development a lot quicker. We will get ahead of the curve – and we are getting ahead of the curve now – and that will mean that the electric motorsports remain part of the overall development process.

“The key to that is also making sure that the racing’s exciting and fun for the fans. If we can, we can tick both of those boxes, then it’s got a very bright future ahead of it.”