Sustainable Motorsport and its Open-Ended Future

This week you will find many examples of sustainable motorsport’s open-ended future, from hydrogen to battery electric to sustainable eFuels and carbon offsets.

In addition to the future, you will learn about what is happening right now. How about turning a Tesla Model 3 into a competitive racer? Or a racing series that is carbon balanced and raises money for a worthy charity?

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

Sustainable Motorsport News

Sustainable Motorsport and its Open-Ended Future

Carbon Positive Motorsport have launched an easy new way for competitors in all motorsport disciplines to offset their carbon emissions from a whole season.

We have designed our new offsetting solution to give competitors a quick and easy way to offset their estimated carbon emissions, based on their fuel use for a season. Competitors can choose to offset either one, two or three tonnes of CO2e for any events they did which were not already providing carbon offsetting as part of their entry fee.

Calculated using government approved carbon conversion factors, each tonne represents 430 litres of petrol used. Our unique fuel use database, collated from our ambassadors and customers, shows that most competitors use between 430 and 1290 litres per season.

In Adapt or Die: Motorsports’ Knife-Edge Push to Go Electric, Marshall Pruett in Road & Track does a thorough job of explaining the state of motorsport today as it works towards a more sustainable future.

As the auto industry progressively trades gas pumps for charging stations, most corners of the motorsport world have adapted. That’s a good thing. The fact that most racing series cannot agree on a single choice of powerplant shouldn’t be perceived as a problem; it’s a gift with an open-ended future. “Not so long ago, we weren’t sure what we’d be racing with. But right now, it’s super exciting because racing is being used for what racing is really good at, which is agile development, fast development, making things smaller, lighter, more powerful, through different solutions,” says Honda Performance Development president David Salters.

Adapt or Die: Motorsports’ Knife-Edge Push to Go Electric

Speaking at COP28’s Supercool Future Mobility Hub last week (8 December) in Dubai, UEA, Formula E CEO Jeff Dodds called on other sports to take a firm stance on sustainability. Dodds said, “Sport hasn’t taken a stance on sustainability. And we were born sustainable. Most sports aren’t. So our quest and our challenge has been, use your platform, use the fact that you have so many, billions of passionate fans around the world to tell the story of sustainability and show what you’re doing.” He added, “Everybody should be trying to do better. And there’s no point me standing up and just talking about electrification because the whole world is not made up of electric vehicles today.”

“It’s growing, but the vast majority of vehicles are still internal combustion engine vehicles. So the fact that people are looking at synthetic fuels, and we’re looking at synthetic aviation fuel and we’re looking to do better with traditional fuel types, is a great thing. If everybody does better tomorrow, than they did today, then we’re creeping towards that goal of more sustainability across the globe.”

Speaking at DHL’s Dubai Innovation Centre on the periphery of the COP28 Summit, Julia Palle, Vice President, Sustainability at Formula E delivered two masterclass workshops to key DHL stakeholders, customers and special guests as the international community met in downtown Dubai to discuss measure on limiting climate change.

Things like using modular logistics, sustainable fuels for sea and road freight and dramatically reducing the amount of cargo needed at each race are just some of the ways we’re significantly cutting down our footprint. The world is now climate-focused with a clear pathway to reducing carbon emissions, so collaboration and innovation is essential in accelerating that change and seeing real tangible results.”

The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) has joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s Senseable Dubai Lab with the aim of researching improved sustainable mobility patterns in the UAE to reduce the carbon footprint of major events in the country.

As part of the MIT Senseable Dubai Lab, a joint initiative between MIT Senseable Lab and the Dubai Future Foundation, researchers working on the project will gather data to build a picture of city-wide mobility patterns around major UAE events, including the FIA Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. This data could then be used to suggest improvements to local mobility planning, including traffic management and public transport, ultimately reducing congestion and carbon emissions during these events.”

Sustainable Motorsport Tech

Sustainable Motorsport and its Open-Ended Future

The Hyundai Ioniq 5 N is officially going racing! At their recent N Festival in South Korea, the manufacturer revealed concept images of an Ioniq 5 eN1 Cup race car along with some technical specifications. Hyundai will finish eN1 development by February of 2024 with racing set to start in May of 2024. Here are some of the details:

Hyundai N confirms 2024 IONIQ 5 eN1 Cup car OFFICIAL INFO:
– 200-250kg weight reduction compared to IONIQ 5 N
– 50-70mm lower
– Racing slick tires 280/680R18
– Further protection of batteries
– Special NAS+(N Active Sound +) for each team, boosted sound
– N e-Shift use is a must (for Finals)
– NGB will be allowed when overtaking

IONIQ 5 eN1 Cup car Specifications in detail:
– Pillowball and Adjustable suspension components
– eN1 specific bodykit and rear wing
– 18in 11J (tbc)
– Slick tire (280/680R18)
– 6P Front, 4P Rear calipers w/ racing brake pads
– FIA grade 6-point rollcage / battery protection harness(lower)
– High-voltage disconnectors, Warning signals for high-volatage warning
– Side & rear Polycarbonate
– Air jack lift

If you watched Ken Block’s final Gymkhana film which I posted last week, Road & Track has explained how the film shows how fake shifting can make performance EVs better.

In the end, it’s really just an RPM limit,” Rosenauer said, effectively limiting maximum wheel speed in each gear. His team had initially wanted to do something far more fancy, comparing GPS speed to wheel speed, factoring in a defined maximum slip. “But we decided, no, we go to the more practical side, because we knew Ken had a specific driving style. He selects a gear and he goes full-throttle.”

Here are more details on the hydrogen working group that has been set up between F1, the FIA and Extreme H via Reuters. “It aims to monitor the progression and development of hydrogen technology for fuel cells and battery systems as well as infrastructure, transportation, charging, storage and management, and the safety implications.”

Grassroots Motorsports explains the mods you need to make a Tesla Model 3 into a competitive racer. “Sure, you may not see it at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (or many 15-minute races, for that matter), but thanks to strong handling and virtually instantaneous power, this EV has become a force in settings as diverse as local autocrosses, One Lap of America and Pikes Peak.”

Sustainable Motorsport and its Open-Ended Future

6.734 metres above sea level – no car has ever gone higher. On 2 December, racing driver Romain Dumas set a new world record at the peak of the west ridge of the Ojos del Salado volcano in Chile, piloting a significantly modified Porsche 911 running on eFuels. He was supported by an international team consisting of members from Chile, France, Germany, the United States, Canada and Switzerland.

ORECA’s group technical director and motorsport boss Remi Taffin discusses in Autosport the company’s recent expansion as it celebrates 50 years in business, and lifts the lid on its hydrogen project.

We supplied the LMP3 cars’ common engines, worked with Skoda on the Fabia R5, and entered Dakar several times. Now the hydrogen activity has really shown people what ORECA is capable of doing from scratch. We’re trying to build on this, so potential customers understand that we have the capability to make a complete racing car.

Our initial aim was to have a hydrogen powertrain ready for Dakar 2024 but, although the L4 is running, the platform to receive it is not yet there. We also have some advanced H2 engine projects with OEMs that may cover most motorsport applications, but the technology for storage and distribution of hydrogen still needs some work. Whether you store hydrogen in gas or liquid form, you need to have infrastructure and safety provisions in place which are not the work of a moment.

How ORECA is becoming an engine powerhouse

KH-7 Epsilon Team

KH-7 Epsilon Team has tweaked their fuel source on their 2024 Dakar Rally Mission 1000 challenger, switching from an even split of hydrogen and diesel to a hybrid powered by hydrogen and hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO).

“Two years ago, we set ourselves a challenge: the use of alternative fuels,” said driver Jordi Juvanteny. “In 2022, we used LPG as the truck’s fuel. Last year, we took a new step by using hydrogen. Hydrogen has a significant advantage over other fuels: emissions are reduced to water vapour. Although in the automotive field, fuel cell technology (a ‘cold’ combustion of hydrogen that produces electricity) is more commonly used, it also serves to directly power traditional thermal engines. We have opted for this latter technology, which various manufacturers are already testing.”

The Race looks at the impact Aramco’s fuel is making on motorsport. “As demand for lower-carbon fuels across the whole energy sector increases, it may be met with appropriate new infrastructure. In late 2025 Aramco’s new advanced synthetic sustainable fuel demonstration plant in NEOM in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is expected to be operational, and it’s this plant that will create the fuel supply for F2 and F3. Built in partnership with ENOWA, its target is to produce up to 1500 tonnes per year of advanced synthetic gasoline.”

Series News

Sustainable Motorsport and its Open-Ended Future

Organizers of the STCC have released the calendar for the delayed first season of racing under electric power. With cars now being delivered to teams and preparations ramping up, organisers have confirmed an early June start for the 2024 season, which will feature six events across five meetings.

We are very happy to finally be able to nail down a strong calendar in cities and on circuits for 2024 together with the Swedish Motorsport Federation, organisers and teams,” Micke Bern, CEO of STCC said. “We are aware that we have a lot to prove after last year’s delays, but now we are slowly but surely building a good foundation to properly launch the championship’s biggest-ever change. One of the biggest pieces of the puzzle is the calendar and we have created a robust set-up with a mix of city events and classic tracks to offer spectators, partners and competitors a fantastic season.”

Brink Motorsport

Brink Motorsport unveiled its first Tesla Model 3 during the eCarExpo show in Gothenburg last weekend ahead of the 2024 Scandinavian Touring Car Championship (STCC) season. The team will run three Model 3 race cars this season and driver/team co-owner Tobias Brink was on site during the show.

The feeling is of course fantastic to see our first Tesla in Brink Motorsport colors, it certainly looks like a winner and a big thank you to all partners who made this possible. Now we’re looking forward to presenting our other two cars a little later,” said Tobias Brink.

IndyCar have confirmed that the debut of their new hybrid engine has been delayed yet again and will only debut in the second half of the 2024 season. The delay is the third on record for the series; its future move to hybridization was presented in May of 2019. Ongoing ERS testing will take place next season, and once the units reach a level of reliability that meets the standards set by its makers, mass production will begin and the series will enter a new era of hybrid competition in June at Detroit or one of the other events left on the calendar.

But as The Race points out, IndyCar’s case for hybrids is shrinking with every setback. “This latest delay, announced on Thursday, hasn’t been explained in any great detail, but The Race’s sources have indicated a host of issues in tests and the struggle to both finalise the specification of the hybrid units and produce enough of them to be ready in time for the start of the 2024 season with spares are contributing factors.”

Roger Penske’s vision of NASCAR is not electric, but something more innovative. “I think the hybrid formula seems to be something that will make a lot of sense as we go forward because we’ve been seeing electrification kind of slow down here lately,” says Penske, whose Penske Automotive operates dealerships worldwide. “I think hybrid is more of a bridging strategy to the future.” Penske points to Toyota as the leader in hydrogen cars. He noted a French team had a hydrogen car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. NASCAR Chief Operating Officer Steve O’Donnell said in November that he planned to travel to Japan during the off-season to look at hydrogen racing.

Speaking of hydrogen, with the hydrogen working group that has been set up between the FIA, F1 and Extreme E, could we see hydrogen-powered F1 cars? It is possible according to Motorsport Magazine.

Pat Symonds reiterated that hydrogen was an option for the future as part of the working group announcement. “Our sport has a tradition of bringing new technologies to the forefront of public perception in incredibly short timescales,” he said. “With climate change mitigation at the forefront of everyone’s mind we are committed to promoting sustainability and therefore need to explore all areas of decarbonisation of the mobility sector. This must include sustainable liquid hydrocarbon fuels, electrification and hydrogen.”

World RX

It was announced following the latest meeting of the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council in Baku that ICE cars would be eligible to contest the pinnacle of rallycross for the first time since 2021, on equal terms with EVs, in what the series has billed as a Battle of Technologies. A maximum of 16 cars will be admitted in 2024, with championship points awarded for each heat race, semi-final and final. The SuperPole shootout has been dropped, to reduce the jeopardy of track evolution.

“As World RX races into its second decade, we are excited to introduce the new ‘Battle of Technologies’ concept,” said Rallycross Promoter GmbH managing director Arne Dirks. “We have all seen and enjoyed the electrifying power and potential of RX1e over the past two years, and we have also witnessed a lot of passion for combustion-engined cars in Euro RX. There has been tremendous interest from drivers and teams across the board, and we believe this sustainable new format offers competitors and fans alike the best of both worlds.”

In his keynote speech at Formula E’s COP28 event on Transport Day, the UK’s Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt Hon Mark Harper MP, lauded the all-electric series for its pivotal role in “mythbusting for electric mobility”.

“Formula E brilliantly debunks myths about electric mobility by proving that world-class performance can go hand-in-hand with our carbon agenda for environmental protection,” said Harper. “I think that Formula E is a fantastic example that, if replicated, in terms of the technological development on the road, and if we can decarbonise our road vehicle sector, then we are going to make a huge step to getting to net zero by 2050 and keeping our target of 1.5 degrees alive.”

Sustainable Motorsport and its Open-Ended Future

I only now became aware of this series but the CALM All Porsche Trophy in the UK is the first Carbon balanced series or championship where all profits are donated to the CALM charity (the Campaign Against Living Miserably), a suicide prevention charity. From their website:

Setting another first for UK club racing, the series took forward an idea originally discussed between Ryan and Philip, “I had discussed balancing our carbon footprint by buying enough carbon offsets to cover the carbon emitted by all our teams, officials and spectators. So we became the first grass roots race series to be Carbon balanced”. Philip continues, “2021 has seen us starting to widen the ZeroCarbon initiative to encourage the whole of the motorsport industry to join us in our efforts to make a real difference to the public’s perception of racing.

We have joined up with Carbon Neutral Britain to offer all clubs, championships, teams the chance to balance their Carbon consumption. The 750 Motor Club, Britain’s oldest motor racing organisers, are the first to have the foresight and imagination to offset all of their championships and race series in 2021 in this way. We know that offsetting will not fix the problem of Global warming, but perhaps it will give us time to develop the technology and find the will to make the changes necessary to survive. Forget COVID – it’s Global warming that will get us in the end”.

ABT CUPRA XE have withdrawn from Extreme E to focus on Formula E the team announced this week. However, the team is open to returning to off-road racing once the hydrogen-based Extreme H launches in 2025.

“We continue to firmly believe in the Extreme E concept of combining exciting motorsport with responsibility for the environment,” said ABT CEO Thomas Biermaier. “In addition to trophies for victories and podium finishes, we will take home many unforgettable memories and impressions, from the glaciers in Greenland to the deserts of Saudi Arabia and the Atacama Desert in Chile. “Together with our current and potential partners, we are keeping a close eye on the transition from Extreme E to Extreme H. Who knows what the future will bring with the hydrogen era?”

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.