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Why Pure ETCR champion Cupra chooses electric motorsport

The momentum behind electric motorsport gathered pace in 2021 with the introduction of the Pure ETCR touring car championship and Extreme E off-road category.

Jordi Gené, Zengő Motorsport X CUPRA, Cupra e-Racer

Photo by: Uncredited

Both all-electric series have been strongly supported by Cupra, SEAT’s high-performance brand which aims to be at the forefront of a transition to more sustainable and innovative forms of motorsport.

Cupra Racing won the inaugural drivers’ and manufacturers’ crowns in Pure ETCR and Cupra was also the first automotive manufacturer to sign up for Extreme E, which it is using to promote its Tavascan electric SUV concept car.

An increasing focus on motorsport with electric propulsion – alongside existing programmes in traditional touring car racing – is ideally suited to the Spanish manufacturer.

It was launched as its own brand as recently as 2018, and traces its roots back to the special-edition SEAT Ibiza marketed alongside a successful World Rally Championship campaign which yielded three successive Formula 2 titles in 1996-98.

“Cupra is a brand born in the 21st century, so we have very progressive values,” says Xavi Serra, head of racing.

“Electrification is one. On the other hand, motorsport is one of the pillars of Cupra so electric motorsport is a perfect match for the brand.”

Jutta Kleinschmidt/Mattias Ekstrom, ABT CUPRA XE

Jutta Kleinschmidt/Mattias Ekstrom, ABT CUPRA XE

Photo by: Charly Lopez / Motorsport Images

Cupra’s transition towards alternative powertrains in motorsport began with the e-Racer, the world’s first all-electric touring car.

Launched at the Geneva Motor Show in 2018, it was the prototype for all cars that would race in Pure ETCR – which features an innovative race format of short, sharp action – just as the SEAT Leon Supercopa car laid the foundations for the TCR category that would reinvigorate international touring car racing from 2015.

That original e-Racer evolved into the machine that powered Mattias Ekstrom and Mikel Azcona to victory in three of the five Pure ETCR rounds in 2021, with Ekstrom taking the drivers’ title.

The 500kW (670bhp) e-Racer can generate 960Nm (710lb-ft) of torque from its four electric motors, far in excess of that from a conventional internal combustion engine.

That contributes to an impressive rate of acceleration – despite the additional weight of a 65kWh battery – achieving 0-100km/h (62mph) in just 3.2 seconds, while its top speed is 270km/h (168mph).

Track action

Track action

Photo by: Uncredited

For Cupra’s executive vice-president for research and development, Dr Werner Tietz, such figures – combined with Cupra’s on-track success – are the perfect justification of its approach.

He said: “Our Pure ETCR victory allows us to show the world that electric technology can also deliver competitive and exciting touring car racing, while allowing us to continue to learn and develop technologies that we will see in road cars in the future.”

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