Sustainable Motorsport Round-Up for January 22, 2022

This week’s Sustainable Motorsport Round-Up is full of exciting developments from manufacturers like Subaru, series like Play and Drive and developments in the world of sustainable transport.

Manufacturer News

Sustainable Motorsport Round-Up for January 22, 2022
  • At the Tokyo Auto Salon, Subaru announced their 2022 motorsports activities which include preparing for a defense of their Super GT GT300 titles, an N24 return, and the Super Taikyu debut of the BRZ sports car powered by biomass-derived synthetic fuel. What is really interesting from a sustainable motorsport point of view is their STI E-RA Challenge Project (Subaru Tecnica International). Subaru calls this a “near-future motorsport study developed to gain experience of new technologies in motorsports.” The company plans a time attack at the Nürburgring circuit from 2023 onward, after a test program in Japan through 2022. On the surface it looks like a perfect fit for the new FIA Electric GT series being planned for 2022. You can read more details from STI here.
  • Mazda has a history of racing their unique rotary engine in a variety of racing series over the years but what are they up to now? In the Motortrend article Mazda Patent Hints at Hybridized Three-Rotor Rotary for Rear-Drive…Something, it appears the manufacturer is working on some sort of hybrid rotary engine. The magazine speculates that if it was running a cleaner burning fuel such as hydrogen the emissions from such a hybrid would be negligible. No firm news on when or if this will be produced but it is an intriguing concept.
  • Dieter Rencken has an excellent piece over at Racing News 365 about the current status of the Volkswagen Group’s debates over whether to participate in F1 called Revealed: All you need to know about Porsche and Audi entering F1. What is particularly interesting is where sustainability fits into this internal debate and how it all might play out.

Sustainable Motorsport Series News & Developments

Sustainable Motorsport Round-Up for January 22, 2022
Forze IX (Photo: Forze Hydrogen Racing)
  • The ERA Championship have announced details of their race format for their inaugural year. Each ERA Series Europe 2022 round will feature free practice, two qualifying sessions and two sprint races, “offering the field of young racers every opportunity to impress in front of FIA ETCR team principals and fans alike, as they build their career and take their first step on the electric racing ladder.”
Sustainable Motorsport Round-Up for January 22, 2022
Play and Drive’s Formula 4e prototype during testing
  • I had a great chat via email with Guillaume Meura, co-founder and CEO of Play and Drive, an innovative motorsport company based in Spain who have big plans to create an electric racing pyramid starting from karts (of which they already run a series for eKarts in Spain) and moving all the way up to the top of the motorsport ladder. What intrigued me was their Formula 4e concept. Their prototype runs on a Gen 1 Mygale F4 chassis with plans to move up to the Gen 2 version soon. Meura stressed that this would not be “energy management” racing but these cars are intended to be raced “flat out.” Recently they have started testing and here are some tech details about the prototype:
    • Total Car Weight: 684Kg (without driver)
    • Battery Capacity: 36.0kW.h (High Power)
    • Battery Weight: 217Kg (Cooling System included)
    • 750V Electric Propulsion System
    • Race-Mode Power: 120kW (163HP) (15min races FIA tracks)
    • QL-Mode Power: 140kW (190HP) (2 laps chrono FIA tracks)
  • In addition to the ERA Championship and Play and Drive, Italian company Predator’s has released video of their “elettrica” single-seater. Unfortunately my Italian is questionable but the video has a lot of details on what they are planning. You can see it below.
Sustainable Motorsport Round-Up for January 22, 2022
  • In Sportscar 365’s Weekly Racing Roundup from January 17th they mention that chassis manufacturer Oreca has upgraded one of its Magny-Cours test benches to accommodate the assessment of hydrogen engine technology with testing due to start in the spring.
  • The Audi RS Q e-tron made a successful debut at the Dakar Rally and Audi is calling this a successful start into a new era. With four stage wins and a total of 14 podium results on the stages, they are indeed ushering in an interesting new era in rally raid technology. Autosport Plus looks at the positive future implications of Audi’s Dakar efforts.
  • As the new Rally1 cars tear up the roads during this weekend’s famed Monte Carlo Rally, Tim Jackson, M-Sport Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1 Lead Development Engineer, explains the layout and technology behind the 2022 Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1 powertrain in the video below.
Sustainable Motorsport Round-Up for January 22, 2022
  • McLaren Racing’s Zack Brown has spoken up about their new involvement in the Extreme E Championship. “This new venture is true to our roots of innovation and courage. Extreme E is breaking new ground in motorsport as a positive force for tackling some of the biggest challenges facing our world today and in the future.”
  • The eTech podcast talks to Mark Preston CEO the DS TECHEETAH Formula-E team and CSO & Co-Founder of autonomous driving business StreetDrone. Mark and host Ryan Maughan discuss motorsport and Mark’s career history, where he came from and the successes and challenges that led him to where he is today. They talk about Formula-E in depth how the championship and cars have evolved and what is happening in the next season. You can listen here.
  • Formula E Director of Sustainability Julie Palle talks to Motorsport UK publication Revolution in their August 2021 edition of how she see’s Formula E’s role in promoting sustainability. You can read the article here.
  • Interestingly, Autoweek reports that F1 is phasing out the use of military flyovers before Grands Prix to be replaced by “commercial aircraft powered by sustainable fuel (which) will still be allowed to do flyovers and air displays, as will aerobatic planes like the Red Bull-branded ones above the Austrian GP.”

Getting to the Track Sustainably

Sustainable Motorsport Round-Up for January 22, 2022

Here are a few interesting developments in the wider world of sustainable transportation that could impact motorsport in the future. Developments just keep increasing at a furious pace.

  • An innovative German proposal for sustainable transport has been launched in Germany proposing to electrify thousands of kilometers of roads so cargo vehicles will be powered by this energy, reducing the carbon impact on the atmosphere.
  • We all know that motorsport personnel employ a lot of private aviation companies as they travel from track to track all over the world, so reducing carbon emissions from flights could be an important way to increase their sustainable footprint. With that being the case, users might want to look into using 4AIR which has announced that since it launched in January 2021 they have:
    • Facilitated more than 250,000 carbon-neutral flight hours, reducing the impact of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted by jets during flight;
    • Offset more than 80,000 emissions-neutral flight hours, accounting not only for CO2 but also for non-carbon emissions that affect the climate such as soot, water vapor and contrails;
    • Made possible more than 125 million carbon neutral flight miles, the equivalent of 262 round trips to the moon.

That’s it for this week! I will have a new Motorsport Prospects Last Lap for your Sunday reading pleasure and as always, stay safe!

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.