Table Mountain will be the backdrop to this weekend’s E-Prix in Cape Town, the first time the FIA Formula E World Championship will make a turn in a sub-Saharan African city.
Cape Town is one of four new venues for the 2022-2023 season, and the fifth round will be decided around a street circuit in Green Point covering a distance of 2.8 km.
When the lights turn green on Saturday at 16:00, it will not be screaming internal combustion racing engines but a whining sound typical of electric motors that will be heard when the battle for the checkered flag begins.
The excitement will be no less than that of any traditionally racing. Let the numbers tell the story. These all-electrically driven racing cars with 350 kW and massive torque of around 746 Nm on tap send power to all four wheels and generate about 40% of their power during the race itself.
But how quick are these electric racers? Top speed is said to be in the region of 322 km/h, and they can accelerate to 100 km/h in less than 2.8 seconds. Not bad taking into a count that a race lasts about 45 minutes.
The performance might still be a bit shy of that of Formula One, but is it is right up there with all the big racing formulas.
With all motor companies spending most of their time and effort developing electric vehicles, Formula E also serves as a testing ground for EV technologies, and a number of manufacturers are keen to use this racing platform to showcase what has already been achieved.
And the progress made with electric vehicles and battery technology over the last couple of years is also on display when looking at Formula E’s history.
Back in 2014, the Gen1 car produced a humble 200 kW of power, which was enough for it to hit a sizeable top speed of 225 km/h and be able to regenerate 100 KWh of power. While impressive for the time, the cars were a radical shift away from anything that had gone before them in motorsport, catching the eye of curious bystanders and fans as they cut their way through the streets of the world's greatest cities.
From there, the tech stepped up a notch with the arrival of the Gen2 car in 2018, which packed a 250-kW power pack that saw it reach a top speed of 280 km/h with the ability to regenerate its entire operating power input.
With a new, bolder look and enclosed front wheel arches, the robust racer ushered in an all-new era of Formula E, which saw BMW, Audi, Mercedes-EQ, Porsche, DS, Jaguar, Mahindra, Maserati, Nissan and NIO battle it out as the series grew.
With the much-anticipated arrival of the new Gen3 car for the 2022/23 season, the lessons learnt over eight years of electric racing have produced a car with 350 kW of power that's capable of 322 km/h and can regenerate a staggering 600 KWh of energy. Compared to the Gen1 car, the Gen3 Formula E racer is 75 percent more powerful, a higher top speed by 95 km/h and six times the power regeneration capability.
James Barclay, Jaguar TCS Racing Team’s Principal who grew up in Cape Town, says their goal for Cape Town is to put themselves into a position to race for points and podiums. “Having grown up in South Africa and watched the last World Championship race there in 1993 at Kyalami, it is a proud moment for me and the other South African members of the team to be part of the return of top tier racing to this passionate motorsport country. The track is fast and challenging and will be a test for the teams, drivers and cars, and it will play out with the backdrop of Table Mountain, one of the seven natural wonders of the world.”
Good news for South Africans is seeing Kelvin van der Linde in action in Cape Town this weekend.
After sustaining a hand fracture earlier this season, ABT CUPRA’s Robin Frijns has announced he’ll also sit out this weekend’s race in Cape Town. He will be replaced by Kelvin, taking in Formula E's first visit to South Africa for a 'home' Cape Town E-Prix. He is the reserve racing driver for this team.
At the age of 17, Kelvin became the youngest ever winner of the Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup and earned his place as a Volkswagen-supported Junior driver for the 2014 season. He became the youngest ever ADAC GT Masters Champion at age 18 driving an Audi R8 LMS Ultra.
Kelvin’s success at a young age, promoted him to the role as an Audi Factory driver and since 2015, he has been competing as a Professional racing driver for the brand, winning some of the world’s most prestigious events.
The Cape Town Formula E Race in Cape Town will take place on 25 February at 16:00, and qualifying and race sessions will be aired live and repeated on SuperSport.
1: TAG HEUER with Pascal Wehrlein and António Félix Da Costa (Porsche 99X Electric Gen3).
2: AVALANCHE ANDRETTI with Jake Dennis and André Lotterer (Porsche 99X Electric Gen3).
3: ENVISION RACING with Nick Cassidy and Sébastien Buemi (Jaguar I-Type 6)
4: NEOM MCLAREN with Jack Hughes and René Rast (Nissan e-4ORCE 04).
5: JAGUAR TCS RACING with Mitch Evans and Sam Bird (Jaguar I-Type 6).
6: DS PENSKE with Jean-Éric Vergne and Stoffel Vandoorne (DS E-tense FE23).
7: MAHINDRA RACING with Oliver Rowland and Lucas Di Grassi (Mahindra M9Electro).
8: NIO 333 RACING Dan Ticktum and Sérgio Sette Câmara (NIO 333 ER9).
9: NISSAN with Sacha Fenestraz and Norman Nato (Nissan e-4ORCE 04).
10: MASERATI MSG RACING with Edoardo Mortara and Maximilian Günther (Maserati Tipo Folgore).
11: ABT CUPRA with Kelvin van der Linde and Nico Müller (Mahindra M9Electro).
During the night shift on Monday, 19 February, the production team of Volkswagen Group Africa celebrated a milestone when the 1.5-millionth vehicle built for export in Kariega in the Eastern Cape rolled off the line.
Hino South Africa has completed an order for 33 mobile offices for the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Home Affairs (DHA).
The Lemons 9-Hour Race is set to make history in Cape Town as Africa's largest motorsport event holds its inaugural mother city event, the Mischief Garage 9-Hour.