Former superbike racer Takuma Aoki will join the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY grid at round two in Mexico City, driving a unique hand-controlled car.
Aoki, who was paralyzed from the waist down in a racing accident 22 years ago, will represent the new Team Yokohama Challenge team in the electric SUV series.
His car has been developed in partnership with Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations division, Italian company GuidoSimplex and M-Sport.
Aoki will become the first disabled person to enter an international electric motor race.
In recent years, the Japanese driver has competed in rally raid events and in sports car races with Frederic Sausset’s SRT 41 team which supports disabled competitors.
Aoki is also a member of the Extreme E prospective drivers’ club.
“I am very excited to be joining the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY with Team Yokohama Challenge for my first competition in electric racing,” he said.
“Everybody is a challenger in life but I can now prove once more that life is not ending and you can still challenge your dreams even if you are paralyzed.
“I want to thank the Jaguar Racing engineering team, GuidoSimplex and M-Sport for their hard work on modifying the car, I can’t wait to be competing in Mexico City alongside some experienced racers.”
Aoki’s Jaguar I-PACE will be fitted with a bespoke GuidoSimplex-designed actuator that will be mounted on the car’s steering column.
This lever will provide the machine’s acceleration and braking while a cable link to the existing Jaguar brake system has been maintained for easy modification.
“Adapting the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY to be driven with hand controls was an exciting challenge for SVO,” said series engineering manager Adam Jones.
“Working alongside Takuma’s race team and M-Sport, we have delivered a package that will enable Takuma to transition competitively into the eTROPHY race series.
“It has been a great collaboration and demonstrates the progressive and innovative engineering behind the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY.”
Round two of the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY season takes place in Mexico on Feb. 15 while the addition of a Japanese team brings the number of nations represented up to six.