Dilbagh Gill has big plans that his new ACE Championship will grow electric racing globally and he may be just the person to do it.
In addition to the launch of the ACE Championship, I have news on hydrogen powered Toyotas, Porsche’s new eFuels initiative, the challenge of developing sustainable fuel for Formula 1 and more.
All this plus my regular Every Little Bit Counts and Getting to the Track Sustainably columns, green transportation developments and much more in this week’s Sustainable Motorsport Roundup on Motorsport Prospects.
Sustainable Motorsport News
The big news that emerged from last week’s first ever Formula E race in India was the launch of the Ace Championship, projected to be a development feeder series for Formula E. The series, unveiled at the Hyderabad E-Prix, has pledged to provide an affordable championship for junior drivers, while also providing opportunities for new talent to get into motorsport. It is expected that the ACE car will have similar performance points to Formula E’s Gen2 machinery. The release states that the series will run on “a regional format and on regional circuits across continents”, which effectively renders the cast of circuits to be used as a complete unknown, or if it will run on the Formula E undercard. “We are looking at the ACE Championship to provide representation to people who are interested in driving, and engineers, around the world who have not had the opportunity to date and giving them a chance to level up.”
According to their promotional video, Nick Heidfeld will be the series’ Development Driver.
The series will be going up against the BRSCC’s Formula Foundation-E series in Great Britain which is being launched this year and the Europe-based ERA championship that has been several years in the making but has so far only held one race.
This is what founder former Mahindra Racing CEO Dilbagh Gill had to say about the goals and mission of the ACE Championship.
Over the past few months, I have pulled together a team and we have been working hard on a project which we can finally reveal. Gardening leave done!
As the CEO for a new racing Championship, I wanted to ensure that it reflects my own personal values and addresses some of the challenges that I have experienced myself and also been aware that others have experienced and to combine that with the passion I have for motorsport and the power of motorsport to change the world for the better.
Together with Ace Group we found a shared vision. That vision starts to become a reality today, as we announce the Ace Championship and take to the track for our very first test run. The four key pillars of our vision are:
- Talent development, at all levels
- The series will be a leader in talent development, offering an affordable entry into racing for young drivers and providing an unparalleled opportunity to grow and hone their skills.
- It will create career opportunities throughout the roles of the motorsport paddock irrespective of background, location, gender or socio-economic status.
- The ACE Championship will have two levels, the entry level Challenger Series and the top-tier Championship. This Championship will be a ‘feeder’ platform for drivers and engineering talent to move into other racing series.
- Innovation and technological development with real-world outcomes
- Using racing as a platform for development, technology will be fast-tracked into manufacturing and production opportunities in the automotive industry to improve commercial viability, with sustainability and renewable energy central to the innovation.
- Developing motorsport in underrepresented markets
- The series will run in a regional format and on regional circuits across continents to bring a showcase to areas where fandom and industry around motorsport can be grown in areas underrepresented by existing Championships.
- Competitive, engaging racing
- Thrilling racing is at the heart of the ACE Championship. The short format competitive racing will use innovation to engage fans in unique new ways. It will be daring, different and digital.
Motorsport pioneer Alejandro Agag leads the appointments to the ACE Championship advisory board. The initial race car will be an evolved vehicle similar in performance to the Gen2 Formula E car. In a world’s first, the same car will be used in both levels of racing, meaning teams can run four drivers in two Championships with two vehicles, an opportunity afforded by the technological advancements the series will deliver.
I couldn’t be more excited for what is to come in 2024, and the journey we have ahead.Dilbagh Gill
Green Racing News has published a comparison of electric motorsports to traditional, gasoline powered events. “Although there is still some way to go before we see electric motors racing totally replace gasoline powered motorsport events, it appears that the future of this technology is bright.”
On 14-15 February, more than 30 participants coming from 14 ASNs, ACNs, Mobility Clubs and FIA staff, gathered in Muscat, Oman, for the second edition of the FIA Environmental Seminar “Together for a better future”. Organised by the FIA and hosted by the Oman Automobile Association (OAA), the Seminar provided a unique opportunity for the FIA and its Sport and Mobility Members to share knowledge and experiences about the environmental challenges in the Middle East and North African countries. More details and photos can be found here.
Sustainable Motorsport Tech
This article is from Velocity News in December 2022 that asks the question, are hydrogen and carbon-neutral fuels the future of motorsport? “Toyota Gazoo Racing alongside Rookie Racing are two organizations exploring the future of motorsport fuels with both teams entering hydrogen and carbon-neutral-fueled cars in the Thailand 25H Endurance Race this weekend.”
Toyota’s approach to carbon neutrality is to develop and offer multiple technologies to support widely varying customer needs and market environments around the world. This multi-technology approach – which includes battery electric and fuel cell electric and plug-in hybrid electric and hybrid electric vehicles – is witnessed in the company’s development of a new car powered by a hydrogen combustion engine. Toyota, through the Rookie Racing Team, has competed in all rounds of Japan’s Super Taikyu endurance touring car series this year with a hydrogen combustion GR Corolla H2. At each race, Toyota President Akio Toyoda has taken the wheel (under his master-driver pseudonym “Morizo”) to evaluate and contribute to the technology’s development.
A Toyota hydrogen-engine vehicle has also been driven on public roads for the first time, with a GR Yaris H2 put through its paces on a demonstration run on the Ypres Rally – a round of the 2022 World Rally Championship – in Belgium.
The Italian company Sabelt, specialist in lightweight seats for high-performance cars, is developing a seat made 100% from Bcomp’s flax fibre solutions. This development is part of their “Carbogreen Project” initiative, which represents Sabelt’s environmental mission that is one of its priorities. The initiative aims at developing seating systems for sports cars made of newly designed, renewable and/or low environmental impact materials.
Porsche has provided an update on its new Haru Oni eFuels plant in Punta Arenas, Chile. The opening ceremony saw a “Gentian Blue Porsche 911 being filled with the extraordinary nearly carbon-neutral new fuel by no less than Barbara Frenkel, Member of the Executive Board for Procurement of Porsche AG.”
“Situated just outside Punta Arenas, in a spot where wind turbines run at peak efficiency up to four times as frequently as they do in the windiest spots in Germany, the plant makes eFuel by splitting water into its constituent components of hydrogen and oxygen in the first step. It releases the latter into the atmosphere, in the words of one of the engineers in Chile, “like a synthetic tree” and then combines the hydrogen with CO₂ that would otherwise be in the atmosphere to methanol. A final process then turns that methanol into gasoline. Even if the finished product were to be shipped all the way back to Europe at the industrial scale that is expected, the transport creates very little CO₂, especially compared to the amount that the making of the fuel removes from the atmosphere.”
Motorsport.com explains why F1’s sustainable fuel challenge is a different beast. “From a fuel perspective, we are now in a completely new space,” Valeria Loreti, delivery manager at Shell Motorsport tells Motorsport.com. “We’re talking about advanced sustainable components that need to be derived by special feedstocks. It could be recycled, it could be e-fuels, it could be biofuels, but they can’t be on an edible food chain. So we have a lot of constraints, but also a lot of freedom. It means we can really explore different areas. Plus the volumes required with F1, it’s not like the volumes required for consumer products. That gives us the opportunity to test things that are really innovative, that nobody has ever done before, and to work on our own expertise. Advanced, sustainable components are going to be a different kind of beast.”
Every Little Bit Counts
Every Little Bit Counts looks at small steps that you can take to decrease your environmental impact and increase your sustainability.
- The last few weeks in Every Little Bit Counts I have been bringing you links to various sources of sustainable activewear and this week I have another to add to the list courtesy of electric racer and Motorsport Prospects contributor Ellis Spiezia. Ellis has partnered with sustainable athletic wear company, Zenkai Sports to act as a brand ambassador. Check them out and use his code ELLISECO25% to get a discount.
- Speaking of clothing, here are some tips in addition to everything you need to know about sustainable fashion.
The Big Picture
In The Big Picture, I look beyond motorsport to see what other sports are doing in their sustainability journey as well as the issue of sustainability generally. Hopefully this will act as a catalyst for change in the motorsport ecosystem as it demonstrates that in many ways, all sport shares some commonalities that can be tackled with achievable, measurable sustainability practices.
Writer and academic David Goldblatt has written a guide that maps the sport and climate space for those who want to join the debate, and he also teaches the first course at Play the Game Academy on sport in Africa and climate change.
The relationship between sport and climate change is an emerging field of sports politics, and now Play the Game publishes a guide that maps out the sport and climate space for anyone who wants to join the debate. At the same time, Play the Game launches a Play the Game Academy with an inaugural course on African sport and the climate crisis.
The guide is published in the form of a theme page on playthegame.org and as a report and is written by writer, academic, journalist and activist David Goldblatt. Over the last two years he has written and spoken widely on sport and the climate crisis, and he has helped found and is now chair of ‘Football For Future‘ that campaigns for environmental sustainability in English football.
Getting to the Track Sustainably
Getting to the Track Sustainably is my occasional column on developments in sustainable transportation that could have some application to motorsport. Since most carbon emissions come from logistics and transportation, this topic is of utmost importance as motorsport works to make itself more sustainable. Here are some articles you may find of interest.
Sustainable Land Transportation
- New Toyota MR2 May Be a 1.0-Liter Mid-Engine Hybrid Sports Car: Report
- eFuel for thought
- You’re Being Lied to About Electric Cars
- ubitricity rolls out smart charging to UK EV charge point network
- European Commission sets 2030 zero-emissions target for new buses
- Tesla to Grant Access to Thousands of Charging Stations to all EV Drivers
- White House Says EV Chargers Must Be Universal to Receive Federal Funding
- New Biden EV charger rules stress Made In America, force Tesla changes
- Electrification and Brexit are killing the British car industry
- Lexus Will Lead Toyota’s EV Push Under Incoming CEO
- Synthetic fuel v regular unleaded: sustainable petrol put to the test
- Ford to build battery plant in Michigan in drive with Chinese tech partner
- BMW’s New HYDROGEN Combustion Engine SHOCKS The Entire EV Industry!
- Toyota highlights its multi-technology approach to zero carbon with hydrogen combustion prototype car
- Ram Names 2024 EV Truck Contender To Face F150 Lightning
- Honda Recommits To Fuel Cells As It Looks For New Markets
- Mercedes-Benz Unveils All-New eSprinter Electric Van
- Virgin Atlantic targeting November for first transatlantic 100% SAF net zero flight
- Alder Fuels reorganises after leadership upheaval and receives DOE grant to support new demo facility
- United Airlines forms $50m joint venture to produce SAF from ethanol using a new technology pathway
- Heart, Embraer and Universal Hydrogen join Air New Zealand’s zero-emission regional aircraft programme
- How Airships Could Overcome a Century of Failure