Photo: RLL Racing/Jaguar I-PACE

Rahal, RLL join Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY electric race series

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Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has expanded its portfolio into another championship. This year the team has run programs in the Verizon IndyCar Series, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (BMW Team RLL) and Red Bull Global Rallycross.

The team will join the Jaguar I-PACE eTrophy electric race series, which will serve as a support series to the FIA Formula E Championship from the 2018-2019 season.

The release is below.

Today, Jaguar Racing announced the first Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY race team for its new global electric racing series. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, led by Team Principal Bobby Rahal – three-time IndyCar Champion and Indianapolis 500 winner – will join the grid in the world’s first production-based electric vehicle race series, starting in December 2018.

The Jaguar I-PACE 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. The series, which will exclusively feature 20 Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY race cars, offers teams the chance to showcase driving talent and electric performance, while competing on the world stage in zero-emissions motorsport.

James Barclay, Jaguar Racing Team Director, said: “Since the global announcement of eTROPHY the reaction has been very positive and we are in discussions with many teams and drivers about entering the series next year. As part of our Race to Innovate strategy, we are obviously delighted to be able to announce our first Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY team with racing legend Bobby Rahal and we look forward to working together with all our teams to make it a big success. The series is in a strong place and we look forward to announcing more news over the next few months.”

Jaguar Land Rover’s commitment to electric racing is delivered in line with its strategy that from 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.

Bobby Rahal, Team Principal of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, said: “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. We are thrilled to be competing in the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY series next year working alongside an electric innovator like Jaguar. Even though the first race is some time off in the distance, we’re already looking forward to participating.

“Certainly electric power is relatively new in motorsport, but being at the forefront of the technological advancement made possible by testing on the racetrack that can transfer over into production cars is exciting for us. To be able to contribute in some small way in the testing and development of electric vehicles that ultimately will provide more options for consumers is something to be proud of.”

Joe Eberhardt, President and CEO, Jaguar Land Rover North America, said: “In 2018 customers will be able to drive their Jaguar I-PACE battery electric vehicles on the road, while also watching them race in cities around the globe – including venues such as New York and Montreal – by top-flight race teams like Rahal Letterman Lanigan. We look forward to demonstrating the exciting performance credentials of the coming generation of battery electric vehicles with both the Rahal Letterman Lanigan team and others as they join the eTROPHY Series.”

Jaguar Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) in Warwickshire, UK, are building the race cars and offering ‘Arrive and Drive’ packages for up to 20 drivers at each race. The racecars are based on the Jaguar brand’s first battery electric road car, the Jaguar I-PACE, which will be released for sale in 2018.

The Rahal Letterman Lanigan team announcement comes ahead of the start of the FIA Formula E championship and season opening race in Hong Kong this weekend, where Panasonic Jaguar Racing will be on the grid with drivers Nelson Piquet Jr and Mitch Evans for the 2017-18 season.

New study surveys drivers’ opinions on crashes, concussions, more

James Black/IndyCar
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Auto racing safety has continued to improve through the decades, but the sport remains inherently dangerous, according to a new survey.

At the close of 2018, a new organization called Racing Safety United emerged with the intention of reducing drivers’ risk of being harmed.

RSU is made up of more than 30 members including former NASCAR Cup Series competitor Jerry Nadeau, two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Randy LaJoie, NHRA team owner Don Schumacher and motorsports journalist Dick Berggren.

One of RSU’s first initiatives was to determine what current drivers thought of racing safety. The organization developed a 14-question survey and promoted it on select motorsports websites and forums. 

Participants were given the opportunity to disclose their identity or remain anonymous, and those who provided contact information were entered to win a $500 prize (for anonymous participants, the prize funds would be donated to a motorsports charity). 

More than 140 individuals participated in the survey over the course of 12 months. Below are the results of the survey:

Driver status

The vast majority of survey participants (60%) were amateur racers, while 26% of the participants were classified as Semi-Pro/Professional racers. The remaining 14% consisted of other individuals involved in the sport such as team owners and crew chiefs. 

When asked how frequently they race, 58% of driver respondents averaged 10 or more times per year on track, while 42% averaged 10 times or less.

The top five tracks respondents said they raced most often: Road Atlanta (21 votes), Watkins Glen (17 votes), Virginia International Raceway (16 votes), Mid-Ohio (16 votes), and Road America (13 votes).

Vehicular damage, injuries common

Over a third of respondents said they had been injured while racing, and almost two-thirds sasid they had suffered severe vehicle damage while racing

Driver error was cited as the top cause of vehicle damage (42 mentions), followed by concrete walls (26 mentions), mechanical failures (24 mentions), and other drivers (19 mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for better driver training/coaching, energy absorbing walls, and more technical inspections.

Almost a quarter of drivers said they had experienced racing-related concussions, and nearly half the respondents said one or multiple concussions would affect their decision to race in the future. 

Drivers primarily influenced by peers 

Roughly half the drivers said they would consider adopting new safety equipment if influenced by another driver (51 total mentions) and/or if recommended by a sanctioning body (47 total mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for drivers to become safety advocates and educate other drivers and for sanctioning bodies to mandate safety equipment. 

Drivers concerned with concrete walls

Approximately three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said they believed certain race tracks were more dangerous than others. Nearly half the drivers surveyed believe that concrete walls were the primary cause of damage to drivers and vehicles. 

Drivers willing to help

Just more than three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said that they would be willing to join a safety alliance to advocate for safer tracks. Two-thirds of drivers said that they also would be willing to contribute to a motorsports safety fund.

Click here for the full results of RSU’s survey

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