Ahead of the initial Jaguar I-PACE eTrophy race in Saudi Arabia, Editor Andrea Perilli spoke with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver Bryan Sellers about what this new experience in his career means for him.
“No matter what everyone wants to say or believe, the times are certainly changing”, says Sellers. Take a look at motorsport, for example: with the introduction of Formula E, people’s views on electric racing have notoriously changed, and the Jaguar I-PACE eTrophy - which Sellers will be part of - aims to continue to extend this perception of electric racing.
“Everything will be, at least, some sort of hybrid in the near future, so I was excited to be able to be part of it, and to be ahead of the curve when I was supposed to be behind it”, he adds. He will race for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in the championship that will kick off 15th this month.
That perception that people used to have of electric racing, was not just held by the public, but by racing drivers themselves as well. “To be honest, I didn’t have much of a view on it. It wasn’t something which was particularly interesting for me at that moment, because there wasn’t any place for me to be there as a GT driver in the electric world”.
“But as soon as I heard about the I-PACE eTrophy, and what their plan was, I was obviously very interested”, Sellers adds. The American racer, champion of the USF2000 in 2002 and reigning champion in IMSA’s GTD class, was one of the first drivers to be confirmed to take part in this new championship.
When asked whether his background in sportscar racing might be beneficial for him on track, he said that "sportscar drivers drive a lot of different kinds of car models, so I think over the years, we learn to adapt and to drive different types of cars”.
“I think that is what would be beneficial: knowing how to learn and change your style, to fit whatever the car wants, and I think that’s where the gains will come in”.
He will team up with Britain’s Katherine Legge, who Formula E fans might remember as she took part in the first two races of Season 1, driving for Amlin Aguri. They will start the season in Saudi Arabia this month, and race at most of the venues featured in the Formula E calendar.
“It’s a pretty special calendar, and very honourable to be part of Formula E, as the support series. So I’m looking forward to going to all the races around the world, and experiencing the world’s greatest cities, and to race in those series it’s pretty impressive!”
Drivers will race in identical Jaguar I-PACEs, road cars that have been specially modified for the championship. “I had not even seen the road car version, until our initiation test in Silverstone; so the road car is beautiful, but then you see what they’ve transformed the road car into [the race version], and it’s very nicely done”.
“Jaguar partnered with a couple of people, and it’s such a really nice piece of machinery that they’ve put together. They have taken a very heavy race car – because of the batteries - and made it something that’s actually very manoeuvrable. They’ve done fantastic work with it!”, praises Sellers.
He highlights that the parity between the cars when the red lights go out might be one of the main attractions for fans. “I think what would be interesting about the eTrophy, is that the cars are all identical”.
“They’re literally prepared in the same place, all of them; and the only things we can change, are small setup things once we actually get the car to the track, so what that means is that the parity between the cars will be very good”.
The 36 year-old speaks favourably about this aspect, as he acknowledges it provides fans with enjoyable racing to watch. “Anytime you put very good end drivers in very similar cars, and put them on a street course, the racing will be good, it will be tight”.
“When you see drivers passing each other, when you see a lot of smart-to-make manoeuvres, I think that’s what makes it enjoyable for our spectators to watch, and I think it will certainly deliver in that area”.
In less than a week, we will see this new championship kicking off, and it looks like it could easily become one for fans to keep an eye on as well. At the end of the day, who doesn’t like some more racing?
Photo by Jaguar Racing Media