The Drayson Racing team today announced that they would be heading to the new EV Cup – the UK-based series for electric cars. The former British politician and ALMS racer Lord Paul Drayson will be taking on the challenge of the world’s only proper electric racing series with his eponymous team, its high-profile defection from a more conventional racing series is as much a first for motorsport as the cars themselves will be.
The EV Cup, as far as I can tell, is a two-class championship, with one class being for Think City cars (glorified golf carts) while the Sports class features the Westfield iRacer, a machine that certainly looks the part. This sporty number packs 260bhp and has the increasingly common overtaking button, but it only runs 30 miles between three hour charges, so you can guess how long the races will be.
Westfield is a company best known for producing Lotus 7 inspired kit cars, hardly the most cutting-edge credentials. Having said that, Westfield have already shoved a hybrid power-train into one of these 50-something year old designs and its more advanced Le Mans-inspired road racers are plenty quick.
Paul Drayson has always been keen on promoting innovation through racing, so it’s apt that Drayson Racing are taking the electric plunge. In a decade will the hum of magnets replace the roar of exhausts? Maybe – as long as the age old question of where the electricity is coming from is answered. Like many, I’m yet to be convinced that we aren’t just moving the emissions from exhaust pipe to power-station. It’s the power providing mega-corporations who should be cleaning up their act first, not the makers of humble hand-crafted sports cars.
At least the miserable sods that live around racetracks such as Brands Hatch who complain about noise will have nothing to moan about with a quieter breed of racing car. What was there first – your Barrett Homes or our majestic race track? Let’s have a Brands Hatch 24 hour race – and we’ll go pitch our tents on their lawns!
Anyway, I digress, the EV Cup is an interesting initiative and it is good to see an established team taking the plunge into a brave new world. But what looks really intriguing is a third class for prototype EVs that is free from the restrictions of a one-make series. This class bizarrely runs as a separate competition that appears to be a time-trial, so I don’t really see how it is a third class for the EV Cup at all. Whatever the confusing class structure, what counts is that a prototype EV competition is a good thing. A one-make series can only boost the image of electric cars, rather than actually improving the breed through racing. Let’s just hope that this somewhat odd combination of little shopping trolleys, carbon-fibre monsters and a confusing prototype class can be made to work.