Lucas di Grassi ahead of Electric Scooter Cup in Dubai: "The cheapest & most democratic motorsport ever"
This Saturday, the Electric Scooter Cup 2023 will take place in Dubai - a single racing event organised by the Federation for Micromobility and Sport, which was most recently behind the eSkootr Championship. In an exclusive interview with e-Formula.news, ambassador Lucas di Grassi talks about the concept of the event and the role of e-scooters in global motorsport.
The track planned especially for the event in Dubai's Design Destrict (D3) is 312 metres long and will present a total of 16 drivers from six different teams with challenges. After a free practice session on Friday, the first heats will start on Saturday (16 December) at 1 pm local time with eight race laps each. The final race is scheduled for 5 pm. Fans can follow the event in a free livestream via the official Cup website or the social media channels linked there.
Lucas, you've been involved with e-scooters for a while and also helped organise the eSkootr Championship last year. What exactly is behind this?
We have basically created a kind of FIA for e-scooters that sanctions some of the events - the Federation for Micromobility and Sport. We've been working on this for a good four years. There was nothing like this before. We make sure that there are rules and that everything is safe.
Why does the world need racing with e-scooters?
The beauty of our concept is its accessibility. Anyone can buy a scooter and take part. Motorsport is normally very expensive. Teams only have their few cars, seats have to be customised, etc. It would never be possible for 1,000 drivers to take part in one race. But that would be possible with scooters. A team could theoretically have 20 drivers. We are trying to make it easier to get into motorsport.
So it's easier to become a motorsport professional with an e-scooter than with a kart?
I like to compare it to surfing: You simply have a board, go into the sea with it and basically do exactly the same as a professional surfer. Sure, the waves get bigger at some point - just like the increasing power of a scooter. But basically, with a lot of training and talent, you can become a pro. We are the cheapest and most democratic motorsport ever - you could even train in a car park.
How much does the standalone event in Dubai have to do with the previous eSkootr Championship?
Last year there was a promoter in London who organised a few races (as the eSkootr Championship). That was very successful for us. And now there is another promoter who is organising a single event in Dubai. For now, we mainly want to organise one-off events and develop this sport from the scratch.
What exactly does your concept look like?
We give the promoters different ranking points, like the ATP in tennis. There are champions from different events. The rider with the most points would be the number 1 in the world rankings. For example, you could organise an event in Germany and award 20 points there. We could also introduce Grand Slams, which would bring more points. The best riders will want to take part everywhere because the points are important to them. The more events you ride, the more points you can collect. That way, we can scale our product much better.
How many drivers have registered for Dubai?
Participation in the event in Dubai was by invitation only. It's the first event there, so we wanted to have the best drivers. It also doesn't count for the points system that I mentioned. We are only just getting to grip. We will probably roll it out more broadly next year. We have already signed four to five top events and are in contact with 30 to 40 other interested parties.
How challenging is it to ride a scooter in race trim?
I've done a few laps and it's extremely physically demanding. But also technically. It feels a bit like skiing. You have to lean back when braking and lean forwards when accelerating. You can lean 58 per cent sideways. I was riding on the same day as Bradley Smith and I was seven seconds off his lap times!
The scooter probably challenges you with its performance values already...
That thing accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in just over four seconds. The scooter has almost 40 hp and reaches around 140 km/h. There are different tyre compounds and different power levels. I was really exhausted after six or seven minutes - soaked in sweat. It's really difficult, but also a lot of fun.