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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Electric Group B! New EVCup Set to Begin Its All-Electric Race Season

The first race series in which the crowds are louder than the cars may well be upon us. The first electric vehicle circuit race series is here—the schedule is set, the cars are ready, and plugs and battery chargers are in hand. The EVCup will hold its first race August 6th, at Silverstone, followed by six more races—three in England, one in Belgium, and two in the U.S. at Laguna Seca and the California Speedway.

There will be three race classes: CityEV, SportsEV, and PrototypeEV. The CityEV class is a single-make class, featuring Th!nk City cars modified for racing duty. The SportsEV class is limited to drivers experienced in open-cockpit racing, and is also a single-make affair. The SportsEV cars are called iRacers, and are provided by Westfield Sportscars; the vehicle is a purpose-built open-wheel racer that even sports an F1-style boost button for extra power during overtaking. Finally, the PrototypeEV class is about as open as you can get: non-production EVs are welcome, regardless of weight or power, competing in a time-trial format for lap time supremacy. Think of it as an electric version of Group B racing—only without the homologation requirement.

Race days will bring a morning of qualifying followed by 20 to 30 minute-long races (cut so short, no doubt, by contemporary battery tech mixed with the caning the cars will be enduring). The PrototypeEV class, to us, looks like the most interesting, and not just because of the lack of limitations and possibly crazy power. This class, more so than the others, will serve as a laboratory for pushing the performance limits of electric vehicle technology—and, we hope, can inspire or trickle tech to sportier, longer-range production EVs down the road.

We’ll check in again with the EVCup as the season gets fully underway.

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