The future of CUPRA in competition is electric
The legacy of SEAT, and now CUPRA, in the world of competition has been extensive and fruitful, having participated in numerous championships and competitions all over the world. Since the birth of CUPRA, the brand has become the flag bearer of mobility, modernity and sportsmanship for new generations and these values have been transferred from the road to competition with its presence in ETCR and Extreme E , two championships clearly focused on innovation with electric vehicles and with formats that tend to offer a different spectacle from traditional racing.
With the ETCR round held at the Jarama circuit, Wayne Griffiths got to see what a weekend in this championship is like up close and was able to be close to his team, even going on the track as co-driver of the CUPRA e-Racer with current champion Mattias Ekström.
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Griffiths enjoyed his time at Jarama and ended up being convinced of the importance of this type of championship for CUPRA. « Motorsports are part of our DNA »said Griffiths, « but obviously CUPRA is a brand for the new generation of car enthusiasts, so we have to give an answer to the next generation of car enthusiasts on what motorsport means in this new era. »
« What is clear about this is that it will be zero emissions in the future, I don’t think racing on circuits that create a lot of CO2 would be very acceptable for the new generation and we have to provide a solution for this. »
And this solution seems clear for the Spanish brand: ETCR and Extreme E as future bets to engage this new group of car enthusiasts.
« When I joined the company we were racing touring cars, so we made the decision very quickly to go electrified »comments Griffiths on the move from WTCR to electric championships.
« We’ll see where it takes us in the future, but I think both ETCR and Extreme E help position CUPRA as a contemporary brand for the next generation of car enthusiasts, with values around sustainability, but also emotional. »
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Convinced of the values that ETCR can bring to CUPRA’s strategy, Griffiths also believes that the championship must better position itself to attract this new audience.
« Extreme E is a very emotional competition, it’s amazing, it’s an adventure, it’s going to crazy places around the world. I just spoke with the organizers of ETCR, we need to move this experience here too »he explained.
« I think it’s great to have electric cars racing here, but in an old-burning environment I think that has to change too if you want to attract those young customers. »
« So the gaming areas and such. If you want them to come, then you need to have a party here, and a lot more inclusive. What I don’t like are the VIP areas here, the drivers there, everything is separate. Okay, the drivers need their privacy, they need to be focused, but I think we need to bring people closer to the action, to make it a more emotional experience. »
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« It has a lot of potential because touring cars, including car racing in the past and in the future with electric cars, I think that’s one of those areas where you can really do the link between racing cars and road cars, obviously you can’t do that with a lot of other prototype series or Formula 1. »
One of the biggest issues facing ETCR is the lack of interest brands have had in these first two years of the championship as only CUPRA and Hyundai have provided support so far.
“For the past two years, we have been busy with COVID”argues the boss of CUPRA. « COVID took everything away for two years! So we have to accept it, we are rolling for the first year in fact. »
« We’re in the game, Hyundai is in the game, but other brands have to come, you need more competition, more cars, I think it’s certainly quite exciting when you see the racing. I think the potential is there. »
« I just told Mr. [Marcello] Lotti that we shouldn’t try to rewrite this history by taking what it was and trying to make it electric. What is needed now is something new, entertaining, engaging, online and offline, more integrative, that brings people closer to the experience, and more emotional. And if we do that, it could be huge. »
With a potential plan for the next generation of the WTCR to be hybrid, Griffiths isn’t ruling out the presence of CUPRA but admits it will be difficult to be in the championship as an official team.
« We’ll do [en course] what we offer in road cars »did he declare. « We offer electrified cars, CUPRA is an electrified brand, in the long term vision it will be a fully electric vehicle, a battery electric vehicle after 2030. »
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« But it’s ongoing, because there’s still a long time before 2030. I think we have to give them the opportunity to look at our technology, the hybrid technology, the hybrid cars for the series. But our way of helping to reduce emissions, while being able to have fun competition, is essential, so I think hybrids on the TCR side of combustion passenger cars is the right step, [mais] not to do so would be unacceptable. »
“However, as a brand with our own riders, we focus on ETCR, on electric, because we have to focus on something, not on all aspects at the same time.
« On the hybrid side we will definitely do the cars, I mean even on the TCR side we do the customer cars, but as a racing team it depends, we have to be focused, we’re a small company, we can’t do whatever we want. »