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.

Tequila Patron to end ESM and IMSA partnerships after 2018 season

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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Earlier on Monday, Tequila Patron, a long-time sponsor in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, both at the team level – they have a long standing partnership with Tequila Patron ESM – and the series level, announced that they will be ending their sponsorships at the end of the 2018 season.

After sponsoring Highcroft Racing in 2008 and 2009 in the American Le Mans Series, Tequila Patron and ESM formed a partnership in 2010 to launch their own team. Since then, they have scored overall wins in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, and the Petit Le Mans. They have also competed internationally, in both Prototype and GT categories.

“On behalf of the entire Extreme Speed Motorsports organization, it has been an honor to represent such an amazing brand for the past 13 years,” said team co-owner Scott Sharp via a team release.

“I have the deepest gratitude for all of (Patron CEO and ESM co-founder) Ed Brown’s support. Together we have tackled various challenges, won races at each step, and built ESM into such an incredible team. Simultaneously, it has been thrilling to watch Ed and his team build the Patrón brand in a meteoric fashion and along the way become an icon in the motorsports world! We will miss not carrying the now infamous green and black livery, but the same passion for excellence will remain!”

IMSA President Scott Atherton also expressed gratitude toward Patron for their long-time involvement.

“IMSA and Patron Spirits have enjoyed a fantastic partnership for more than a decade. Tequila Patron rose through the IMSA ranks, from a high-profile team sponsor with Patron Highcroft Racing beginning in 2008, through its entitlement sponsorship of the Patron GT3 Challenge starting in 2009, and its presenting sponsorship of the American Le Mans Series beginning in 2010,” Atherton detailed.

He continued, “Tequila Patron continued in a prominent position as the American Le Mans Series merged with GRAND-AM to create the new IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and has been our entitlement partner for the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup since 2014 in addition to its longstanding support of the Tequila Patron ESM race team and its pair of Nissan DPi race cars.

“All associated with IMSA – competitors, promoter partners, series officials and fans – will miss the iconic Tequila Patrón brand next year. On behalf of IMSA, we thank CEO Ed Brown and Tequila Patron for all they have done over the many years to help us grow IMSA and the sport as a whole. We’re more proud than words can express to have counted Tequila Patron among our family of premium brand partners.”

Team co-owner Scott Sharp, in a story posted on SportsCar365, asserted that the ESM team has every intention of continuing in 2019.

“We’re working on a number of options,” Sharp said. “Obviously I think we’ve singly got the best team we’ve ever had, personnel-wise. Having been refining over the years and making selected additions, we’ve gotten ourselves to be super strong. The goal is keeping everyone together. We’re working through a few different options that will hopefully allow us to do that.”

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