As I reported in my latest Racecraft & Driver Development News, Tips & Techniques column, a new driver development program has been launched linking Buggyra ZM Racing team with Motors Formula Team (MFT), a motorsport start-up focused on enhancing diversity in the motorsports industry. Their long-term target is entering the 2024 Le Mans 24 Hours with a lineup and team mostly of African descent. In addition to Le Mans, the new initiative plans to take on the Dakar Rally in 2023.
The two teams have launched an “Equality and Diversity Program” to support young drivers, engineers, and other professionals from non-traditional backgrounds into motorsports, with its first step taking on “selected GT series” with Mercedes-AMG machinery including the the 24H Series presented by Hankook with Playstation GT Academy winner Jann Mardenborough.
“Buggyra ZM is opening a new chapter in the motorsport world with this close cooperation with MFT,” said team CEO Martin Koloc. “#EQUALITY #RESPECT #DIVERSITY are qualities that are still not a given in today’s motorsport world. By supporting talented young drivers who will join our Academy program in Europe and the Middle East we want to instigate change.”
“I am delighted to partner with Martin Koloc and Buggyra ZR Racing as we share the same goals in terms of developing new talent, especially from emerging countries,” said Motors Formula Team’s Ludovic Peze. “With our motorsports program, we would like to increase diversity in motorsport. This is something we have been fighting for since our debut in 2014 and which was acknowledged by the Sir Lewis Hamilton commission in 2021.”
I have been chatting regularly with Ludovic over the last year and we had conducted an interview a few months ago as I was interested in his driver diversity plans. This interview was originally going to run a few weeks ago but Ludovic hinted that he had a major announcement coming up, so I held off on posting the interview. With the “Equality and Diversity Program” announced last week, I felt now was the perfect time to find out more from this very busy and very committed motorsport pioneer.
Motorsport Prospects: What is your background and how did you get involved in motorsport?
Ludovic Peze: I am half Mauritian on my mother’s side and half French on my fathers. I was born in Monaco which I think has played a huge role in my story. My father was a mechanic in karting before I was born but he also restored classic race cars and was a tester and mechanic at BMW. I was always evolving surrounded by cars and Motorsport but wasn’t supposed to work in this field as I studied management and accounting in school, but I played a lot of sports and was coach of a youth football team.
In 2013 during my last years of studies I fell sick with meningitis and was in a coma plus intensive care for a few days and in hospital for several weeks. After I emerged from that I wanted to find a way to work during my rehabilitation by using my knowledge and skills and started to think about a Motorsport career. In school I was good in management, whether that be team management or project management so that is where my interest was. Despite being from Monaco, nothing was guaranteed as I didn’t have any backing or funds except for a small amount of savings of about 1k € but I decided to go for it.
MP: Let’s start with the Motors Formula Team. What kind of racing do you plan on competing in?
LP: We already have done a lot. In 2014 we started with a test in Formula Premium (F4) where we achieved a speed record and fast lap record for the category when testing in the Ultimate Cup Series. Competing and winning in drift, slalom, and rally in Mauritius. After that we participated in Formula Renault 2.0 VdeV championship for a race where we claimed 3 top 5. We are continuing to push for an entry at the Monaco Historic F1 with a Surtees Ts16 from 1974. We also won our formula category the French Slalom Cup. We’re involved also in other categories through our affiliated drivers (Polo Cup in South Africa, LMP2 in ELMS, Formula E, and rally). And now of course we are competing in GT racing in Europe.
MP: Part of your goals with the team is to participate in the highest level of motorsports as the first international African team while promoting Africa, Tech, mobility, road safety and tourism as a link between Africa and other continents. You are based in Mauritius, what kind of motorsport heritage does that country have?
LP: The country has more of a rally background thanks to the terrain and does not have specialized facilities for motorsport. We also have slalom, drift, and drag races but still no racetrack although that is something we’re working on for the mid-term.
MP: Africa has a rich motorsport heritage, but we do not seem to hear too much about it in the mainstream press. How healthy is motorsport in Africa as a whole and what kind of future do you see it having?
Motorsport in Africa is still present, but everybody is doing things in their own corner. There are great championship likes the Africa Rally Championship, Formula F1600, South African Endurance Series, Polo Cup, Bandama Rally, Safari Rally. The problem is that local media are more focused on football and not really paying attention to Motorsport and what it can bring locally in terms of economic development and employment compared to football.
MP: You are also based in Monaco and operate MFT Global Solutions, a sports management company specializing in motorsport. What kind of drivers do you work with and what kind of services do you offer?
LP: MFT is based in Mauritius with an office in Monaco. We offer bespoke services with our partners based on customers’ needs such as career management, physical preparation programs, legal assistance, sim training and coaching. We are also working on programs for VIP access to race events and track days but also racetrack and karting track concept development that is adapted also to smart cities.
For coaching we want to make sure that our drivers gain the knowledge necessary to be more competitive and this includes not just coaching but physical and mental conditioning and career guidance.
Currently I am focused on Formula 4 and GT racing here in Europe, but I am also looking at America and specifically IMSA.
MP: For a young African driver graduating from Karts, what kind of opportunities do they have racing on the continent? I know that South Africa has a successful road racing scene, and it is wonderful to see Kyalami back in the spotlight with the recent 9 Hours race but outside of South Africa, how is the grass roots doing?
LP: The best way is to race Formula F1600 or Formula Golf / Formula 4 Middle East. Then after that join a structured program like us to achieve your training and see which category suits more your talent and your budget or your sponsors choices. In GT it’s easier as you can learn locally in South Africa before moving to Europe to reach the required level.
MP: What kind of things would you like to see the racing team do to promote African motorsport and driving talent?
MP: I think they’re doing well already it’s more a question of media support and sponsor backing as there are talented drivers, both boys and girls that are already there. I keep in contact with a lot of African drivers, not just in South Africa but sim racers in Ghana, Kenya, and different Nigeria as well as other parts of Africa. We want to work on projects that can develop the passion for motorsport that will help bridge the gap between sim racing to real racing.
One of our goals is to expand on the continent, and in the US because we realized based on what we have learned here in Europe is that an American driver that was developed in the US and you bring them to Europe they can be a really good driver.
My ultimate goal is the 24 Hours of Le Mans running a Black Heritage-based team which means not just the racing drivers but also the engineers and staff of the team. The impact of this will be huge. For example, the people of Mauritius would start to get interested in this and that is important. Watching one of our drivers race may lead them to say “Oh finally some guy looks like us taking but the race so let’s watch it.” That will lead to more interest, more fans and hopefully more business interest.
MP: What are your short-, medium- and long-term goals for the racing team? Is it your intention to promote African drivers within the team?
LP: I would personally say my goals and expectations for the short term is to be able to keep competing with the team because we know that motorsport is very much a question of finance and sourcing that finance. So, this is something really difficult but what I am working on. Mid-term is to expand and go to other regions like the US because I was always interested in American culture. The motorsport culture there is totally different than Europe. They really understand sports and how to interact with manufacturers with funds, with sponsors, and the broad spectrum of motorsports, and this is what really interests me.
Ultimately, I want MFT to embrace three areas: management’s, racing and digital (Esports and sim racing) These three areas often work quite closely together in addition to being separate activities because sometimes people can be interested in sim racing and not real racing, or it can be opposite. This way we would have something for everyone. Management is similar in that sometimes some drivers need the full suite of management services and for others they just need some advice.
MP: Where can people get more information about the team and the management company?
LP: We’re working on different projects such as making our own facilities and series in Mauritius with a regional championship to follow.
We are also working to bring Formula E to Mauritius with Pascal Wehrlein and his management. Plus organizing the first sim racing competition in Mauritius. We have a target to extend our academy to other African countries and we are working on making our proper supercar. We’re currently finalizing the design in 3D before building the model.
You can find out more about Motors Formula Team in their Motorsport Prospects Directory listing.