Pushing the Envelope of Sustainable Motorsport

This week we are pushing the envelope of Sustainable Motorsport as I showcase an interesting single-seater concept that uses synthetic fuel but is battery-free.

I also highlight the first ever electric motorcycle podium finish at Circuit of The Americas, McLaren’s trial of recycled carbon fibre, and how IndyCar is racing to be green.

All this and much more in this week’s edition of the Sustainable Motorsport Roundup on Motorsport Prospects. Your source for sustainable high performance motorsport news.

Sustainable Motorsport News

Pushing the Envelope of Sustainable Motorsport

Clean Technica goes Inside The First Ever Electric Motorcycle Podium Finish At Circuit Of The Americas.

History was made in early September as Stefano Mesa and Tytlers Cycle Racing took second in the Super Hooligan race at Circuit of the Americas (CotA), putting a fully battery-electric motorcycle on the podium for the first time in history. Mesa has been hovering around the podium all season, putting in consistently solid performances to sit in about 5th or 6th place throughout the end of the season, but at CotA, he battled a field of ICE vehicles in 102F (39C) degree heat on a long track (3.426 miles) with 20 corners, and put in a second place finish on the Energica Eva Ribelle RS.”

Motorsport UK’s Revolution Magazine profiles the fleet of EVs that took to the Scottish hills in the UK’s first all-electric Road Rally. The event was a trial run for an eventual spot on the calendar of the FIA ecoRally Cup.

In mid-July, the world of motorsport passed a major milestone. For the first time in the history of rallying, the fully electric ŠKODA RE-X1 rally car completed the full length of a rally without any relief. In the successful debut at Rallye Weiz, the car succeeded speed-wise and finished third in the overall rally standings.

The ŠKODA RE-X1 Kreisel is an experimental prototype built in collaboration between the ŠKODA Motorsport team and the battery technology specialist Kreisel Electric. It is based on the successful ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo rally special.

Sustainable Motorsport Tech

Sustainable Motorsport Roundup

McLaren Racing’s Formula 1 team will be trialling the use of cutting-edge recycled carbon fibre (rCF) on the McLaren MCL60 at this year’s US Grand Prix, in step with the team’s goal to develop a fully circular F1 car by 2030 and to help identify and test pioneering technologies and materials on the journey towards achieving its net zero target.

Together with innovative composites organisation, V Carbon, McLaren sourced recycled materials made using newly developed technologies. The car components manufactured using rCF will be the first of their kind and will be used on the cockpit branding panels, which will feature the V Carbon logo.

The environmental benefits of recycled carbon fibre include:

  • A 90% reduction in life cycle emissions compared to standard carbon fibre, the equivalent of 27 tonnes of carbon emissions for each tonne of material used.
  • If just 1% of the carbon fibre manufactured globally in 2022 was rCF, it would save 32,535 tonnes of carbon emissions – equivalent to half of McLaren Racing’s total emissions in 2022.
  • The manufacture of the F1 car is one of the largest contributing factors to F1 teams’ overall carbon footprint. Enhancing the use of more sustainable materials therefore has huge potential to help reduce emissions.

Sustainable Motorsport Roundup

Sébastien LaMour has designed a single-seater race car called Le Pinacle that features a number of revolutionary features that runs on 100% synthetic fuel. Here is what he has to say about his design:

I am passionate about the rich history of motorsport and in particular, I am fascinated by the motorsport era of the 1960s/1970s. During that time, there were some of the greatest technical innovations, from moveable aerodynamic devices, ground effect, fan cars to gas turbine cars and six wheelers, etc… It was the time of technical freedom and it was when racing car design was an art of practical experiments rather than the science like we know today. As a racing car engineer, a question has always been obsessing me ever since I have started my career. “What would be the performance, what would be the look of a circuit purpose built racing car if the technical regulation was entirely free from constraints, with the exception of keeping all contemporary safety devices (halo, reinforced and homologated monocoques, fuel cell installation, etc…), with the obvious target being to achieve the fastest lap times ever known on contemporary racing tracks?”

LE PINACLE is an attempt to answer that question. If you were to ask ten different racing car designers, you would receive ten different answers, which makes it even more fascinating. In particular because with so much freedom, it would be a very hard challenge, even for the most advanced simulation tools that we have nowadays to cover all the design scenarios. It may be possible that there would never be a clear winner in such competition as it would push the physical limits of the drivers to the very edge of human capability. In this respect, I must pay tribute to Peter Wright’s article “A Christmas Reverie” from 1998 which shares his own vision of an unlimited racing car and which has been a great source of inspiration for me. Peter Wright was one of the engineers responsible for the Team Lotus Formula One wing cars of the late 1970s, I can very much recommend that read!

You can find out more details about the project at his website https://www.lamourlepinacle.com/index.html.

Motorsport UK has confirmed MightE has been selected as the official electric powertrain supplier following a successful tender process for the Motorsport UK Bambino Owner Driver Karting category, which will debut in 2024.

Motorsport UK is committed to environmental sustainability and adopting new technologies to support the sport. Earlier this year it launched the tender process for an Electric Bambino powertrain to sit within the Motorsport UK Bambino Kart Category. The Motorsport UK Electric Bambino class will see karters use an electrified powertrain that will be similar in performance to the current petrol-engined Comer C50s.

The collaboration will bring MightE’s state-of-the-art electric powertrain solutions into the heart of Bambino karting. Established in 2018, MightE’s mission is to combine balanced and consistent performance with sustainability, and it has steadily paved its way in the electric vehicle equipment industry, specializing in powertrain systems.

Series News

World Rally Championship

The FIA has awarded the World Rally Championship a three-star accreditation for its approach and “clear commitment” to helping protect the environment. The work was led by the World Rally Championship Promoter’s Sustainability Manager Santiago Pena Gomez – a role he also performs for the FIA’s sister World Rally Cross (World RX) Championship.

Aimed at helping motorsport and mobility stakeholders worldwide to measure and enhance their environmental performance, the FIA Environmental Accreditation Programme is an environmental management certification system consisting of a three-level framework, of which the Promoters have achieved the highest level.

Global Sustainable Sport looks at the state of sustainability in IndyCar in their article Indycar races to be more green.

This season saw the NTT Indycar Series debut the use of Shell 100% Renewable Race Fuel, making it the first US racing series to do so. At least 60% of greenhouse gas emissions were reduced compared to fossil-based fuel, according to Indycar.

Additionally, Indycar transporters, including those of the teams, used 100% renewable diesel as they travelled from race to race. This diesel is made from vegetable and animal fats, as well as waste cooking oils that are refined, and can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 85% compared to traditional diesel.

Teams utilised the Firestone Firehawk guayule race tyre, which was debuted by Firestone during the 2022 season, and the series used the natural rubber in tyres for all street circuit events this year.

Indycar races to be more green

In more IndyCar news, Motorsport Week reports that IndyCar’s hybrid system has passed a crucial high speed test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Matt Niles, Senior Engineer at Honda Performance Development, is the project lead for HPD’s version of the hybrid components, and offered his thoughts on the tests so far.

I think, yeah, we’re pretty set on where we are with the energy storage [capacity],” said Niles. “I think we’ve been finding out how all these different components survive in this environment. The vibration is unique. Also the temperatures that we deal with. We’ve been learning a lot about that. But I think going forward, a lot of it is really how we use the system and the parts and pieces we have, and how that’s regulated on track and how the drivers use it, how the engineers interface with it, how we go racing.”

That’s where we’ve been going through sort of street course at the short course at Sebring, we’ve been running short ovals, road courses, and now we’re here at this hallowed ground to see how it works here. We just kind of have to go back through all the data, start making some decisions on how we go to St. Pete.”

The Race reports that Formula E is finally set to introduce mandatory ‘attack charge’ pitstops at select races next season now that its amended sporting regulations have been released by the FIA.

The Race understands that the fast-charge pitstop option will be used only in certain races, with one option to initially use the rules only for one of the double-header races. These are set to be events in Riyadh, Italy, Berlin, Shanghai, and London next season, although these will not be officially confirmed until after next week’s FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting.”

In announcing IMSA’s long-term extension of its partnership with VP Racing Fuels, they were quick to point out how they fit into their sustainability plans.

VP Racing Fuels is on the forefront of IMSA’s sustainability efforts as supplier of the 80 percent renewable fuel currently being used in the WeatherTech Championship GTP class, which will become 100 percent renewable in the coming years.”

Smart EQ e-cup

The Italian-based Smart EQ e-cup runs its last race of the year at Misano on November 5th. The series has identical Smart EQ cars racing against each other throughout Italy. Motorsport Prospects contributor and electric renegade Ellis Spiezia is scheduled to take part in the race.

Sky Sports looks at how Extreme E combats the climate crisis through education, innovation and action.

A major criticism of motorsport’s sustainability credentials is its global travel, but if you take this away, you are removing a fundamental aspect of the sport. Instead, routes and modes of transport can be adapted, and this travel used as an opportunity to educate on areas impacted by climate change.”

All-electric motorcycle racing series MotoE has unveiled its 2024 schedule with Portimao to make its debut on the calendar, becoming the eighth different country to host MotoE while Silverstone drops off the schedule following its debut race last season.

The eight-round, 16-race season will be the series’ second as an official world championship under the International Motorcycling Federation (FIM), and it will support MotoGP at eight of its 12 European events.

Mark Boudreau
Author: Mark Boudreau

Mark is the publisher of Motorsport Prospects. As a former lawyer, he applies his legal background and research skills to assist race drivers by showcasing the resources they need to make their motorsport careers happen.