Jaguar has announced the “I-Pace eTrophy,” an all-new, all-electric racing series that will pit 20 of the British automaker’s forthcoming I-Pace SUVs against each other on the same street circuits that Formula E competes on. The new series will consist of 10 races spread across Formula E’s fifth season, which starts in late 2018, including stops in Hong Kong, Paris, Rome, New York and Sao Paolo, Brazil.
The I-Pace SUVs used in the series will be modified by Jaguar Land Rover’s special vehicle operations unit in order to make them race-ready, presumably according to the standards of the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), the governing body of Formula E. As for drivers, it’s sort of an open call; anyone holding the “holding the relevant international race licence” will be able to apply to drive. There will also be a different “VIP driver” at every race, though Jaguar didn’t offer any more detail about what that means.
Jaguar joined Formula E last year before the beginning of the third season, and it’s one of the biggest automotive brands currently involved the sport, next to Audi, BMW, and Renault. (Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and others are on the way, too.) Making a support series out of one type of car will help ensure that the races are close, competitive, and entertaining — similar to how Formula E as a series issues the same car to each team and only lets them customize certain parts of the drivetrain.
That’s good for potential fans, and probably necessary to get anyone to pay attention in the first place. And the performance specs of the I-Pace (90kWh battery, almost 400 horsepower) will hopefully make for better spectacle than the abysmal e-Golf challenge that ran before last year’s Formula E race in Hong Kong.