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We head to Hong Kong to witness Jaguar's involvement in electric racing, and speak to the people involved on what these efforts mean for the brand's future.

13 Mar 2019

If you haven't already heard of the Jaguar I-PACE, you must be living in some sort of cave because not only is it the first electric model from Jaguar, it's also the first of its kind to be used for one-make racing. One-make races are racing categories where all drivers race using identical cars from the same manufacturer, often using the same model. It means that the cars in the race have the same chassis, tyres, as well as engine.

Held over 10 races, the I‑PACE eTrophy Championship promises to be the next exciting chapter in the company's Race To Innovate
Some famous one-make races include the Audi R8 LMS Cup, the Ferrari Challenge and the Porsche Carrera Cup. The Ferrari Challenge Asia Pacific and the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia are also support races for the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix.

Cue the Jaguar I-PACE eTrophy, an FIA-sanctioned, production-based electric one-make series supporting the FIA Formula E championship, which started in late 2018.

The PACE race

The series sees entrants compete in a race-prepared Jaguar I-PACE, maintained by Jaguar's Special Vehicle Operations team, with the races taking place on the same weekends and at the same circuits as the Formula E championship.

A typical race weekend includes free practice and qualifying sessions followed by a 25-minute race. It operates on an 'Arrive and Drive' package for up to 20 drivers at each race, including a different VIP Driver at every venue. The series' partners include official tyre supplier Michelin, official charging partner ABB, technical partner Sabelt, and official clothing supplier One All Sports.

The I‑PACE eTrophy race cars are designed, engineered and built by the Jaguar Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations team
The PACE maker

With up to 20 production-based Jaguar I‑PACE race cars having identical specifications going head to head, it all comes down to driver skill and team tactics to decide who will be crowned king of the ring.

The I‑PACE eTrophy is powered by the same 90kWh lithium-ion battery as the production I-PACE. Impressively, its design and state-of-the-art thermal management system is so well engineered that it can support the periods of sustained maximum power needed for motorsport.

Its inverter, the electrical device that converts electricity derived from a Direct Current source to Alternating Current, too, is identical to the one in the production I‑PACE.

Interestingly, the I-PACE eTrophy also shares suspension components with the XE SV Project 8, the most powerful, agile and extreme performance Jaguar road car ever.

The I-PACE eTrophy race cars are fitted with 22-inch Michelin Pilot Super Sport all-weather tyres and bespoke AP Racing brakes
So what, then, the race teams can do is switch between four torque maps, 11 ABS settings and adjust the suspension, anti-roll bars and rear wing to suit the various courses. All teams use 22-inch Michelin Pilot Super Sport all-weather tyres, bespoke AP Racing brakes, an 11-settings Bosch Motorsport ABS and a lightweight full-race loom system adapted from I-TYPE 3 Formula E car. 

And being an FIA-approved race car, the lightweight aluminium architecture used in the I-PACE production has been modified slightly for the I-PACE eTROPHY to allow for the FIA safety roll cage.

The PACE tamer

While one-make races are unfamiliar in Singapore, there are several reasons to get behind the I-PACE eTrophy; one of which is Team Asia New Zealand.

Driven by 28-year old Simon Evans, brother of Panasonic Jaguar Racing driver Mitch Evans, the Team Asia New Zealand eTrophy car is sponsored primarily by the Giltrap Group of New Zealand, as well as Wearnes Automotive, and Access Group Sri Lanka. The three sponsors are all official importers and distributors of Jaguar Land Rover vehicles in their respective countries.

Simon believes his involvement in the I-PACE eTrophy race is a contribution towards future powertrains
But apart from witnessing Wearnes' commitment to a zero-emissions future and involvement in motor racing, it's also a superb feeling cheering on a race car dressed in Singapore flag livery fighting for a win, even if it isn't your typical roaring machine.

Speaking to Simon in Hong Kong, he says that being a part of the I-PACE eTrophy isn't just another notch in his racing belt but, rather, it's doing his part in improving and contributing to the future of automotive technology.

"Jaguar has done a fantastic job in creating the I-PACE and if we can prove that the standard battery and powertrain combination can handle the abuse on a race track without need for energy saving, that says a lot about the company, its products and what customers can expect down the road," said the chatty Kiwi who believes he's faster than his brother.

The electric racing series reinforces Jaguar Land Rover's future electrification strategy and commitment to electric street racing
Future PACE

In the meantime, Jaguar is taking in all data and feedback from the races and drivers to improve on its electric powertrains.

According to Robin Colgan, Managing Director, Jaguar Land Rover, Asia Pacific Region, the company is focusing on areas like improving performance, heat resistance, optimising battery efficiency and extending range for everyday use.

And as the first premium car manufacturer to join Formula E, and the creator of the first ever production-based electric one-make series, Jaguar definitely isn't just talking the talk.

"Just like the early days of Formula One where manufacturers transfer technology from the races to the road, that's what we're doing with Formula E and the I-PACE eTrophy. Apart from the success of our road-going I-PACE, we are also proud to say that every new Jaguar Land Rover model line will be electrified from 2020, giving our customers even more choice. We will introduce a portfolio of electrified products across our model range, embracing fully electric, plug-in hybrid and mild hybrid vehicles," said Robin.
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