Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has confirmed it will enter the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY series, becoming the first confirmed team in the new global electric racing championship, which kicks off in December 2018.
The legendary open-wheel and sports car racing squad is set to expand into the single-make series, which will serve as a support series for the FIA Formula E Championship.
“Innovation is integral to motorsports and electric car racing is an important part of the future so this opportunity came at the perfect time for RLL,” team principal Bobby Rahal said.
“We are thrilled to be competing in the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY series next year working alongside an electric innovator like Jaguar.
“Even though the first race is some time off in the distance, we’re already looking forward to participating.”
Rahal, the 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner, returns to the Jaguar brand after a stint as its Formula One team boss in 2000-01.
“Certainly electric power is relatively new in motorsport, but being at the forefront of the technological advancement made possible by testing on the racetrack that can transfer over into production cars is exciting for us,” he said.
“To be able to contribute in some small way in the testing and development of electric vehicles that ultimately will provide more options for consumers is something to be proud of.”
Announced in September, the championship will feature 20 Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY cars, the first to be based off a street-legal production battery electric vehicle.
Jaguar Land Rover’s commitment to electric racing is delivered in line with its strategy that from 2020 all new Jaguar Land Rover vehicles launched will be offered with an electrified/electric powertrain embracing fully electric, plug-in hybrid and mild hybrid vehicles.
“Since the global announcement of eTROPHY the reaction has been very positive and we are in discussions with many teams and drivers about entering the series next year,” said Jaguar Racing team director James Barclay.
“As part of our Race to Innovate strategy, we are obviously delighted to be able to announce our first Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY team with racing legend Bobby Rahal and we look forward to working together with all our teams to make it a big success.
“The series is in a strong place and we look forward to announcing more news over the next few months.”
Joe Eberhardt, President and CEO, Jaguar Land Rover North America, added: “We look forward to demonstrating the exciting performance credentials of the coming generation of battery electric vehicles with both the Rahal Letterman Lanigan team and others as they join the eTROPHY Series.”
Jaguar Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) has been tasked with building the race cars and offering ‘Arrive and Drive’ packages for up to 20 drivers at each race.
Team RLL’s announcement comes ahead of the start of the Formula E season this weekend in Hong Kong, where Jaguar has drivers Nelson Piquet Jr and Mitch Evans on the grid.