The success of the smart EQ fortwo e-cup, which completes its second season at Adria this weekend, is more than organizer LPD Italia had forecasted when it debuted last year.
The single-make Italian series features a grid of around 20 identical electric smart fortwos, run in an arrive-and-drive format with lower entry fees than any comparable touring car championship.
After a debut season in 2018, it became Italian motorsport federation ACI Sport’s official championship for alternative energy racing this year.
The championship’s brand manager Massimiliano Palumbo says he’s surprised by the success and growth of the unique series, which is believed to have been the world’s first electric touring car series after debuting in June 2018.
“The series started last year as something experimental to show how fun the electric smarts can be on track,” Palumbo told e-racing365.
“I’m pretty sure the smart e-cup is the first electric touring car series in the world, before also the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY, and I don’t remember any other electric touring car series in the world.
“Last year it was a simple single-make trophy but this year, thanks to the ACI Sport Italian federation, the series has grown up and it has become a real Italian championship, with the same value as TCR, GT and Formula 4.
“We have drivers coming from GT, from Formula 3. We have guys coming from Euro NASCAR like Vittorio Ghirelli, we have guys coming from prototypes, GTs, touring cars, and several guest drivers.
“We are very happy happy with what we have reached until today. For us, it’s something more than we could have expected last year when our CEO had this idea.”
As well as gaining official status from ACI Sport, the series had several other changes for its second campaign, including a host of improvements to the car.
“Last year we raced with the standard stock cockpit; this season we reduced the weight by around 100 kg,” Palumbo explained.
“We reduced weight in every part of the car, we used carbon in the internal cockpit, we removed the air vents, we removed all the plastic in the car. We have more of a racing car and it we can show it in the lap times.”
As a result of these improvements, lap times are up to 1.5 seconds quicker than last year but with the same race duration of around 16 minutes.
Palumbo admits that the cars’ range remains the series’ “biggest problem”, but believes that LPD Italia has extracted the maximum range possible out of the current batteries.
The smart e-cup’s growth is also reflected in its fan engagement online as its races now receive more views on live streaming than any other Italian championship.
“We are very happy about what we do until now because today, if we see the views of the races, we are the championship with the most views in Italy,” Palumbo says.
“Bigger than TCR Italy, GT Italy, bigger than Formula 4 Italy. Also, for example, the Facebook page is growing. Our races are live streamed on more than 40 Facebook pages and this allows us to reach so many people.”
A number of developments are in the works for next year with plans to spread the smart e-cup model internationally or tackle different types of racing.
The 2019 season comes to an end today with the finale at Adria where either Vittorio Ghirelli, Riccardo Azzoli or Giuseppe de Pasquale will be crowned champion.