Discovery Sports Events withdraws as promoter: ETCR electric touring car series on the brink of extinction
Bad news for fans of the electric touring car series ETCR: Discovery Sports Events will not only no longer continue the combustion series WTCR in 2023, but also withdrew last weekend as promoter of the all-electric ETCR. This was elevated to FIA World Cup status only last year and was thus intended to stand for electric touring car racing in the long term. Although on the part of the teams continue to hold talks with those responsible, the electric series is facing the end.
It has been indicated for months that something is brewing behind the scenes at the ETCR. Even before the second season, the rumors and calls for a new, fourth manufacturer to expand the driver:inside field accumulated. Throughout the season, the ETCR had major problems attracting spectators to the series, apart from joint events with partner racing series such as the WTCR and the GT Masters. At the race in Zolder (Belgium), for example, the grandstands remained empty except for a handful of fans.
Nearly two weeks after the season finale at the Sachsenring, Discovery Events first officially stamped its sister series WTCR. Since then, those responsible for the electric series have also not said a word about a possible race calendar or a possible involvement of the existing manufacturers Hyundai, Cupra and Romeo Ferraris in 2023 - not to mention new manufacturers.
"No sporting & regulatory framework found"
Saturday's announcement followed confirmation from Discovery Sports Events - the events brand of parent company Discovery, which includes TV partner Eurosport - that it would withdraw as promoter of the electric touring car series after two seasons. "In recent months there have been intense discussions about the future of the series, with the sporting and regulatory format at the forefront," Discovery Sports wrote in a press release.
The focus had been particularly on combining the traditional touring car DNA with a new electric identity that would achieve a full grid and appeal to fans, manufacturers and drivers in the long term.
"Despite the efforts of all involved to shape the new sporting and regulatory framework to meet the needs of the manufacturers, the necessary conditions could not be implemented in a satisfactory manner before the start of a full season," Discovery added.
Cupra & Romeo Ferraris confident: "Are convinced that there is a future".
Without a promoter and TV partner, the future of ETCR is uncertain. While the WTCR will be replaced by the new TCR World Tour under promoter World Sporting Consulting (WSC), which holds the rights over the TCR regulations anyway, the FIA has so far not commented on a possible continuation of the electric series. Should no promoter be found, the end threatens.
The talks with the WSC and other stakeholders, however, are said to be already underway in the background, reports the trade portal 'TouringCarTimes' and refers to a Hyundai spokesman. Cupra and Romeo Ferraris also see a future for the racing series.
"We were one of the first brands to believe in the ETCR and its concept," said Michela Cerruti, general manager of Romeo Ferraris, when asked by 'e-Formel.de'. "That's why we are convinced that there is a future for it. It's just a matter of time."
Cupra team boss: "Hoping ETCR will come back with a competitive racing format"
"Cupra started its journey in electric motorsports with the development of the e-Racer. This has opened the door for us into other electric racing series such as Extreme E and Formula E. We respect Discovery Sports Events' decision and hope that ETCR will come back even stronger with a competitive racing format," says Cupra team principal Xavi Serra, at the same time putting his finger in the wound.
Because attempts had been made to reduce the number of cars and thus costs for the teams with two pool groups, the race format became very complex - a thorn in the side of many fans who struggled to understand the concept of the series. Especially since, with three to six cars on the track, some of the racing action left much to be desired. We will of course keep an eye on the ETCR's search for a new organizer for you.