FIA rekindles Group N spirit with new electric series
By Ian Parkes
Friday 23rd June, 2023 - 7:44pm
The FIA has launched a new entry-level electric series based closely on current road-going production models.
The ESV (Electric Sport Vehicle) category is open to both Grand Touring cars and four-door, coupe-shaped sports sedans that run on either rear-wheel or four-wheel drive cars, and with a minimum power output set at 300kW (around 410bhp).
The maximum chassis height has been set at 1460mm, and as per the technical regulations, the bodywork shape must remain fundamentally unchanged, with the exception of the possibility to extend the wheel arches to accommodate wider racing tyres and additional cooling ducts.
In order to save weight, selected bodywork panels, such as the rear hatch and doors, the rear wing, and the diffuser, will be replaceable with equivalents made from lightweight materials that maintain their original shape.
The cars must also be fitted with a safety light system, as used in other competitions for electric and hybrid-powered cars.
The class is only open to cars with a minimum production volume of 300 units over the first 24-month period from the homologation of the road car, which means prototype or low-production specials will be ineligible.
Marek Nawarecki, FIA director of circuit sport, said: “As the governing body of world motorsport, our responsibility is also to ensure that our knowledge and expertise are available to our member clubs as well as local organisers and promoters.
“Therefore, having a set of technical regulations applicable to different disciplines and formats, as well as to different sporting levels, is key to fulfilling this role.
“The FIA ESV revives the spirit of Group N, where a car purchased at a dealership, fitted with all the necessary safety equipment, was essentially competition-ready and suitable for various disciplines and formats.”
The series is designed to allow affordable, entry-level electric racing in compliance with the FIA’s standards for high-voltage safety.
The unique advantage of the new ruleset is that it enables the same car to be used across a variety of different sporting formats, from circuit racing to various sprint-type events, including those that require vehicles with road-legal homologation, consequently allowing competitors to drive to and from the actual events.
The ability to offer modified electric vehicles ready for competition and built in conformity with recognised FIA regulations will enable the manufacturers to offer cars ready for competition straight ‘out of the box’.
Given the inclusive nature of the ESV ruleset and potentially wide range of vehicles built to it, event organisers will have the option to group the cars according to their performance levels, based on the Performance Factor methodology, which is successfully used in FIA competitions, for instance in hill-climb racing.
Performance Factor creates a value for each car based on figures representing weight, power unit and aerodynamic performance, along with transmission and chassis parameters, allowing vastly different cars to compete against each other in groups based on their performance levels.
Depending on the format of the competition, ESV will also offer the opportunity for real-time energy consumption monitoring through an FIA data logging system.
Lutz Leif Linden, FIA GT Commission president, said: “The FIA ESV ruleset very much responds to the demands of the market.
“Having this set of technical regulations will allow the manufacturers’ customer racing departments to offer competition-ready variants of their electric cars, which should be a considerable source of revenue for them, much like GT3.
“It can even open the door for them to create their own one-make series.
“The fact that the regulations are inclusive and accommodate four-door cars reflects the latest trends in the road car market. We already see several manufacturers having sporty four-door grand coupes in their line-ups.”