This week the Sustainable Motorsport Round-Up is full of exciting sustainable motorsport developments. I look at what is happening in Japan’s Super Formula and America’s NASCAR, desert rally raid racing, the World Rally Championship, MotoE and GT racing. I also bring you news on developments with Porsche’s eFuel initiative, sustainable natural fibre as a replacement for carbon fibre, whether cryptocurrencies are too dirty for sustainable motorsport and an interesting conference you may want to attend.
Sustainability and Super Formula
Japan’s Super Formula has already announced they will be testing carbon-neutral fuel this year with the intention of using them in 2023. But they are also seeking to reduce their carbon footprint with the use of new-generation Yokohama tyres made from “natural compound agents” and other reusable materials. Bcomp, a Swiss-based composites manufacturer, has been recruited to create bodywork crafted from “sustainable lightweight hemp” that, it is claimed, produces 75% less CO2 emissions than carbon fibre. Hazel Southwell over at RaceFans.net looks into their plans for more sustainable bodywork and the implications for motorsport in how a sustainable alternative to carbon fibre could offer other benefits to motorsport.
Sustainable Tires for MotoE
Michelin is to supply tires to the electric MotoE Championship until 2024. To align with MotoE’s sustainable goals, Michelin will manufacture the series’ tires with recycled and bio-sourced materials. These include lemon and orange peel, pine resin, sunflower oil, worn car and truck tyres, and scrap steel.
Is Crypto Too Dirty for F1’s Sustainability Message?
And while sponsorship activations are up and increasing in Formula 1, crypto sponsorships loom large this season as I have reported on previously, with some questioning their validity on environmental concerns. Team bosses state that F1 would be wrong to spurn crypto industry. “Some have questioned whether the environmental issue puts crypto at loggerheads with F1’s sustainability push, but teams do not see it in such simple terms. Instead, they support a growing view that a wider acceptance of crypto by the public can act as a catalyst to actually drive a push for better renewable energy sources.”
Electric in the Desert
Audi have taken their electric Audi RS Q e-tron to the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2022 as they continue their electric odyssey after the car’s debut at this year’s Dakar. In only their second outing they clinched outright victory. Stéphane Peterhansel and Edouard Boulanger won the second round of the FIA World Rally-Raid Championship with an advantage of 29.49 minutes. The conditions were considerably different from their first race.
“The drivetrain is complex, inevitably heavy and must have required a doctorate in Jenga for packaging, thanks to its three motor generator units (MGUs), TFSI petrol engine, clever software-driven centre differential with variable torque distribution, plus a high-voltage 50kWh battery. Even a man of Quandt’s experience must have wondered what he was letting himself in for, especially in a timeframe that left little more than a year for build and preparation, and made the toughest demands on Audi’s hard-pressed suppliers of componentry.”
Sustainable Fuels in Motorsport
Professional Motorsport World looks at the technology and implications of sustainable fuels in motorsport and high-performance applications. “The reality is starting to set in that electrification is not the silver bullet for the world’s emissions challenges. When you consider the true carbon footprint of an electric vehicle’s entire lifecycle along with the necessary upheaval in the grid infrastructure, electrification alone is not a sustainable solution to meet global transportation needs. “We absolutely need battery-electric vehicles and they will make a massive difference but we need more of them and as fast as possible,” says Steve Sapsford, managing director at SCE (Southern California Edison), a renewable energy specialist.“
Meanwhile, Motortrend looks at Porsche’s major eFuel initiative in Chile. “The project is a joint effort between HIF (Highly Innovative Fuels), Siemens Energy, ExxonMobil, and the Chilean oil and gas companies ENAP and Empresas Gasco. Once it reaches full commercial capacity in 2026, the plant will be able to produce 1 million tons of green methanol per year, of which a portion will be upconverted to 145 million gallons of gasoline.“
Formula E & Extreme E
Extreme E and Formula E have made sustainability their core mission and make no bones about it. Green Racing News looks at the sustainability impact that Formula E’s race in Rome will have when it takes place next month both on and off the track. In addition, they talk to Sustainability Director Julia Pallé on the sustainability differences between the two series and Formula 1.
NASCAR is exploring the possibility of exhibition races for electric race cars. NASCAR COO Steve O’Donnell: “We are exploring some opportunities around an exhibition series. That’s a huge push across all OEM (car manufacturers) partners. It’s important for us to explore that base. We look at NASCAR as a place where, in an ideal world, it’s all things to all people. We’ll take a look at an electric series. Our fans love noise. They love the sound and feel of racing. If we get into an electric place, I promise you it will be entertaining.”
Sustainability in GT Racing
At the the annual SRO Motorsports Group Awards last week, there were two significant new awards that highlight the SRO’s increasing sustainability plans. The inaugural SRO Sustainability Trophy was presented to the Intelligent Money British GT Championship in recognition of a collective commitment to limiting environmental impact, with last year’s opening round at Brands Hatch featuring SRO’s first-ever fully carbon neutral entry. In another first, the SRO Environmental Award was presented to Team WRT as the most sustainable outfit across all championships. “The Belgian squad has made a particularly important contribution to SRO’s Road to Carbon Neutrality competitor program, displaying a keen appreciation for environmental matters.”
Rallying to the Cause
Peter Thul, WRC Promoter’s senior director of sport, explains to Blackbook Motorsport how the World Rally Championship is gearing up for a new hybrid era driven by a commitment to sustainable development. “We are fully in line with the targets set by the FIA to be zero carbon by 2030,” explains Thul. “We see WRC as a field of innovation and therefore to develop the sustainable technologies is an attitude we have, not because we have to do it, [but because] we want to do it. We want to be a part of the solution and not be a problem.”
Sustainable Motorsport Tech
I have mentioned the work of Bcomp consistently in past Sustainable Motorsport Round-Ups and for good reason. In addition to their work with Super Formula as outlined above, Composites World has a good overview of their work in motorsport in their article Bcomp developments continue to drive natural fiber toward scalability in motorsports.
On the Road to Net Zero: Driving a Culture of Innovation and Inclusion
Finally, the Globe Forum 2022 takes place from March 29-31, 2022 and the Day One plenary will be of particular interest to the motorsport industry. Titled On the Road to Net Zero: Driving a Culture of Innovation and Inclusion, the session features speakers Julia Pallé, the Sustainability Director of Formula E, Asaf Nagler, Vice President External Affairs for ABB E-Mobility and will be moderated by Anne Roy, Canadian E-Fest Promoter, Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame Inductee, and Founder of the OSS Group Inc. You can view the full agenda and register here.