Announced just before the Brics Summit in Sandton, Johannesburg, 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.
There will be two cars per country but they will be technically the same and managed by the series rather than teams themselves. This means ultimate racing glory will go to the team with the best drivers and the best strategies — not the team with the most money and best facilities.
Twenty-five countries are set to participate in the series, which will start somewhere between September 2024 and March 2025. Five countries have already signed up, including South Africa and China.
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 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 and WRC.
The Elite World Cup will use the Lotus Evija as the base hypercar for the electrified race car platform. The series is in partnership with Lotus cars but specific to the racing series. Some significant changes probably will be made to the cars that line up on the grid.
To drive this point home, Lotus Cars flew out one of eight Emerson Fittipaldi Lotus Evija to mark the event. The Evija is a 2000hp car capable of a sub 2 second 0 to 100km/h time in its full power mode.
Lotus, which is majority owned by the Chinese Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, has partnered with the founding company for the Elite World Cup.
The founders of the world cup are a trio of men that have, in a way, done this before. They are Tokyo Sexwale, Stephen Watson and Liu Yu, all of whom were involved in A1GP pre-2010. The team represents South African and Chinese interests — and the world cup racing series isn’t just about racing.
Sexwale said: “It’s clear that this is not just a racing competition. It is a testament to the power of collaboration, innovation and sustainability.”
There were also hints of partnerships beyond this in the manufacturing and development of battery-electric vehicles. The Geely link cannot be overlooked.
Like Sexwale, Liu Yu is a former seatholder for China in the A1GP and he too has hinted at heightened effort to use this platform to push the electric vehicle industry, which 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.”
Watson is the other co-founder of the venture. A former racing driver who moved into the motorsport business thereafter, he was CEO of the A1GP for a few years and has a successful career in putting together large-scale sporting events and organisations as well as understanding and capitalising on the media and audience behind these.
There is still a lot to be done before this series is officially underway, including contracting the competing nations; the racing drivers who would compete for each country and, of course, structuring the contracts with other parties, including the FIA and the venues.