MOTORSPORT

Motorsport’s Elite World Cup Announced in South Africa

An electrified global racing series founded by some Saffers – in part

Avon Middleton
August 22, 2023
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Motorsport’s Elite World Cup Announced in South Africa

Announced just before the BRICS Summit last night, the Elite World Cup is set to be the second fully electrified, global racing series after Formula E, this time with countries competing against each other for patriotic bragging rights. But haven’t we heard of this before? 

Yes and no. The A1GP series that ran from 2005 – 2009 was similar in that it too was a country vs country series. The only other similarity between the Elite World Cup and A1GP is that the South African A1GP seatholder, Tokyo Sexwale is also involved in this venture but this time in a far more significant role. That’s where the similarities end. 

So how is this Elite World Cup going to work then? 

There will be two cars per country but these cars will be technically the same and managed by the series rather than teams themselves. That would mean that ultimate racing glory would go to the team with the best drivers and the best strategies – and not the team with the most money and best facilities. The Elite World Cup is targeting 25 countries to participate in the series that is set to start somewhere between September 2024 and March 2025. Five countries have already signed up including RSA and China as well as Monaco if my eavesdropping is anything to go by. That Monaco bit is unconfirmed but I did overhear that at the event. 

The ‘Elite’ part of the name is also significant in the way this model works. The intention is for the drivers to be the most decorated and elite from across the world. By the sounds of things, the Elite World Cup is looking to attract the biggest names from the biggest series including F1 , IndyCar, WRC and the likes. 

And what will they be driving? 

The Elite World Cup is set to feature electric hypercars as the machinery and these will be built in partnership with Lotus Cars. They will be based on the Evija hypercar but we expect some significant changes for the race car itself that will probably see a reduction in weight and very different thermal management systems at least. This is why the stunning 1,500kW Lotus Evija was on hand at the event to usher in the announcement. It’s a partnership that has come together between Lotus, a company that is majority-owned by the Chinese Zhejiang Geely Holding Group and the founding company of the Elite World Cup. 

So who is behind this whole thing? 

The Founders of the Elite World Cup are a trio of men that have done this sort of thing before, excep this time, they’re all in. The founders are Tokyo Sexwale, Stephen Watson and Liu Yu. The team represent South African and Chinese interests and the World Cup racing series isn’t just about racing. Mr Sexwale said, “the Elite World Cup is not just a racing competition. It is a testament to the power of collaboration, innovation and sustainability.” There seems to be a lot more riding on this than just the racing and without saying it, there were hints of partnerships beyond this in the manufacturing and development of battery-electric vehicles. The Geely link cannot be overlooked. 

Like Mr Sexwale, Mr Liu Yu was the former seatholder for China in the A1GP and he too has hinted at a heightened effort to use this platform to push the electric vehicle industry, an industry that is experiencing astronomical growth in China. “The automotive landscape has evolved significantly, and as the electric car industry is growing rapidly in China, we’re excited and proud to be at the forefront of this Elite revolution in sports.”

Stephen Watson is the other co-founder of the venture. A former racing driver that moved into the motorsport business thereafter, Stephen Watson was CEO of the A1GP for a few years and has a decorated career in putting together large-scale sporting events and organisations as well as understanding and capitalising on the media and audience behind these. 

Let’s talk about the Evija shall we? 

The Lotus Evija is the ultimate hypercar but the Evija you see on these pages is even more special as it is the Emmerson Fittipaldi Special Edition, one of only eight in the world. It’s only in the country for two more days before it jets off to its new owner in China. The Evija is Lotus’ big reveal, the most powerful car ever created by Lotus and in this spec, it’s a great reminder of the Lotus 72D that Emmerson danced to victory in 1972 to win his first of two world championships. With 1,500k and an ability to run to 300km/h in 9 seconds, it’s the stuff that most of us cannot imagine. Our counterparts in at TopGear UK got behind the wheel of a limited-power prototype but you can have a look here. 

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