By Aaron Bearden, Contributing Writer
The first race team for the upcoming Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY Series has been revealed, and it’s a name most American racing fans will recognize.
Jaguar Racing announced Tuesday that Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) will join the grid for the upcoming FIA Formula E support series in the tour’s inaugural 2018-19 season. The organization, led by three-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion and Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, will be among the 20-car field for the series in its December 2018 debut.
“Innovation is integral to motorsports and electric car racing is an important part of the future so this opportunity came at the perfect time for RLL,” Rahal said in a release. “We are thrilled to be competing in the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY series next year working alongside an electric innovator like Jaguar.
“Even though the first race is some time off in the distance, we’re already looking forward to participating. Certainly electric power is relatively new in motorsport, but being at the forefront of the technological advancement made possible by testing on the racetrack that can transfer over into production cars is exciting for us. To be able to contribute in some small way in the testing and development of electric vehicles that ultimately will provide more options for consumers is something to be proud of.”
RLL’s newest venture will be their fourth active motorsports venture, joining teams in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, INDYCAR and Red Bull Global Rallycross.
The Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY is set to be the first series based off of a street-legal production battery electric vehicle. The tour’s races will be ran in conjunction with Formula E race weekends, at the same city street circuits. The planned lineup for the Jaguar series’ debut is 20 I-PACE eTROPHY race cars, meaning many more team announcements are likely forthcoming.
“Since the global announcement of eTROPHY the reaction has been very positive and we are in discussions with many teams and drivers about entering the series next year,” Jaguar Racing Team Director James Barclay said. “As part of our Race to Innovate strategy, we are obviously delighted to be able to announce our first Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY team with racing legend Bobby Rahal and we look forward to working together with all our teams to make it a big success.
“The series is in a strong place and we look forward to announcing more news over the next few months.”
The upcoming series is based on Jaguar’s current lone-term strategy for all new Jaguar Land Rover vehicles launched to be offered with an electrified/electric powertrain embracing fully electric, plug-in hybrid and mild hybrid vehicles by 2020.
The race cars, made in Warwickshire, UK, are based on Jaguar’s first battery electric road car, the Jaguar I-PACE, which will be released for sale in 2018.
“In 2018 customers will be able to drive their Jaguar I-PACE battery electric vehicles on the road, while also watching them race in cities around the globe – including venues such as New York and Montreal – by top-flight race teams like Rahal Letterman Lanigan,” Jaguar Land Rover North American President and CEO Joe Eberhardt said. “We look forward to demonstrating the exciting performance credentials of the coming generation of battery electric vehicles with both the Rahal Letterman Lanigan team and others as they join the eTROPHY Series.”
Tuesday’s announcement comes just before the opening weekend of the 2017-18 Formula E season in Hong Kong, where Panasonic Jaguar Racing will field entries for inaugural series champion Nelson Piquet Jr. and Mitch Evans.