Founder Gill reveals future plans for junior series ACE Championship "1st race at Hyderabad E-Prix 2024"
It's been just under two months since former Mahindra team principal Dilbagh Gill unveiled his new motorsport project at the Hyderabad E-Prix. The ACE Championship is intended as a race series for up-and-coming driver:s who want to establish themselves primarily in electric motorsports. On 'The Race,' Gill gives a first glimpse of what his team is working on: It's designing a first-season vehicle to race for the first time at Formula E's 2024 Hyderabad E-Prix.
Indian Gill describes the official unveiling of the ACE Championship at the Hyderabad E-Prix last February as "a checkmark" on the road to the first race. Of those checkmarks, however, he said he has a few more to set next year in order to build the new championship. That's because the schedule is tight,
"In twelve months, we want to hold our first race in Hyderabad. Then we want to officially launch the series," Gill said. But that also means that vehicle development must be completed this year, because the first test drives are already scheduled to take place in the fall. At the same time, it is still completely open on which hardware the new race car will be based.
Gill: "Would like to use Gen2 car as basic framework"
At the presentation in India, the demo car was based on a retired Gen2 chassis from Formula E. Gill confirmed once again that the goal is still to build on the Gen2 car, whose hardware is currently mostly stored in warehouses. "If we had our way, we would love to build on that solid foundation. Because the Gen2 car is a great product. But it belongs to Formula E on the one hand and to the teams on the other." It is not currently known whether a takeover would be possible.
But even without Formula E's hardware, the ACE Championship would be ready for a first season, Gill says: "We're in a good financial position and have the budget to build the car ourselves and get the series up and running," the series founder says.
Nearby for the development of new vehicles would be cooperations with Atieva EV, which belongs to the Lucid Group and produces parts of the drive technology for Formula E, or QEV Technologies. The Spaniards were already the technical partner for the first test vehicle and have already successfully contributed their expertise to several racing series - for example, with Gill's former Team Mahindra in Formula E or as a vehicle manufacturer in the RX2e rallycross series.
Joint races with Formula E, but not planned as a frame series.
While the first race as well as the launch are to take place within the framework of Formula E, the ACE Championship is not planned as a framework series of Formula E. While close negotiations are underway with the FIA and Formula E for joint races, a local Asian championship is initially planned for the 2024 series.
"Discussions are ongoing with the FIA and we would like to have a link with Formula E, but it will take some time to get that done." Gill, however, expects the market for all-electric junior series to tighten considerably. "There will be many others doing exactly what we are doing. And while I wish them all success, the market is going to be very tight, and we need to make sure we're an authentic organization and brand."
Preston: "Formula E needs a frame series again"
That again raises the question of whether Formula E should look more at a frame series after the From Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy and the Formulino E. "Yes," writes former Techeetah team principal Mark Preston in his column also at 'The Race.' While Formula E, as one of seven FIA world championships, offers enough potential for role models in electric racing, he says the path of up-and-coming talent still runs through combustion-based championships.
"From a technical perspective, electric race cars are very different from their internal combustion engine counterparts," Preston elaborates, alluding to power caps and energy management. "Driving these complex new electric vehicles requires experience and knowledge of how they work. This is also evident in Formula E, as it can take a few races for a new driver to adjust to this very different vehicle."
An electric junior series would focus precisely on these skills for both driver:s and engineer:s and, most importantly, attract young talent away from traditionally motorsport-minded families, Preston said.