Hyundai Motorsport reveals driver line-up for first-ever PURE ETCR season
Hyundai Motorsport has named the four drivers who will compete in the first-ever season of PURE ETCR, in which the Veloster N ETCR will make its competitive debut.
The experienced group is led by test drivers Augusto Farfus and Jean-Karl Vernay. The pair has been instrumental in the development of the car and the major ETCR-standard technical components over recent months. The confirmation of their roles as race drivers for the 2021 season continues their presence in the project, and will allow them to use the experience gained in competition.
For Farfus the drive marks a return to racing with Hyundai Motorsport, having competed with a Hyundai i30 N TCR in the 2019 season of WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup. Vernay will combine his ETCR race drive with a full season in FIA WTCR this year, where he will compete in the new Hyundai Elantra N TCR.
The line-up for the season is completed by Briton Tom Chilton and French driver John Filippi. Chilton joins the team boasting a successful Touring Car career that has seen him take race wins in both the British and World championships. Filippi also brings WTCC experience and more recently has raced as a Hyundai Motorsport customer – finishing second in last year’s TCR Europe standings in a Hyundai i30 N TCR. Both, however, are newcomers to electric racing.
Hyundai Motorsport has been at the forefront of the development of the ETCR category ever since it became one of the first manufacturers to commit to the regulations in 2019. The undertaking took the team into unknown territory – laying the foundations for a new pillar within the company with the first electric-powered car built by the Alzenau, Germany-based squad. The Hyundai Veloster N ETCR was the first design to be built to the full ETCR regulations after having the standard batteries, motors and inverters fitted in summer 2020. Since then, Hyundai Motorsport has extensively tested with Farfus and Vernay. The work has given the team’s engineers vital experience with the car and the new challenges it presents, enabling them to harness the full potential of the technology. It has also been instrumental in helping the series organisers finalise their own preparations for the season ahead.
Testing with the Hyundai Veloster N ETCR is due to continue in the build-up to the first race, with both Chilton and Filippi set to log laps with the car before their competitive debuts with the machine.
PURE ETCR is the first multi-manufacturer electric Touring Car series in the world. Due to be contested over five weekends, the inaugural season will pit four competitors against each other in a series of ‘battle’ races, with the fastest drivers progressing through to a final where the winner will be crowned King or Queen of the Weekend. Each ETCR car is capable of a peak power output of 500kW – equivalent to 670 horsepower. To fit with the regulations the Veloster N ETCR is rear-wheel drive, with the electric motors mounted in the middle of the chassis – two further firsts for a Hyundai Motorsport project.
The inaugural PURE ETCR season is due to begin at Vallelunga, Italy in June. Three times the new series will share a race weekend with the FIA WTCR, including at a home event for Hyundai at the Inje Speedium circuit in South Korea.
Augusto Farfus said: “It’s great to be racing again as part of the Hyundai Motorsport team and with the Hyundai Veloster N ETCR. I’ve been fortunate enough to have done a lot of testing with the car. Through that process it’s been exciting to see – and feel – the progress of both the Hyundai Motorsport team, and the technical suppliers working with the series to bring the project to where it is now. The overall performance is hugely impressive. As you’d expect from an electric car the acceleration is incredible, and the handling and balance of the chassis has given me the confidence that I can really push on track. We still have some testing to come before the first PURE ETCR race weekend, so I think we can aim to be on top from the very start.”
Jean-Karl Vernay said: “This is going to be a very busy season for me as a Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing driver – but I couldn’t be happier about it. The Hyundai Veloster N ETCR and the car I will drive in FIA WTCR are very different, as are the series themselves, but I don’t think this is a problem. Perhaps it will even help – for example in the short PURE ETCR races you will have to be very decisive in your overtaking moves, and hopefully this skill will help me in WTCR as well. Thanks to my role as a development driver for the ETCR project, I already have some experience with the car but now I am confirmed as part of the race team for the season I can focus fully on the remaining tests to be able to push for the win in Vallelunga.”
Tom Chilton said: “Electric-powered racing is a new challenge for me, but as part of the Hyundai Motorsport line-up for PURE ETCR I think I am in the best place to race for victories. I know the team will have done a great job in developing the car so far. I’ve worked with John before, but this will be my first time sharing a garage with Augusto and Jean-Karl. They’re both very successful in TCR and Touring Cars in general, so I’m sure they’ll be strong competitors, and a good benchmark to compare myself to, through the season. I’m looking forward to driving the Hyundai Veloster N ETCR for the first time in the next few weeks to feel the performance for myself, and even more to racing it when the first weekend of the season comes.”
John Filippi said: “Even though I raced Hyundai TCR designs last season, a move to PURE ETCR with the Hyundai Veloster N ETCR is still a big change for me. I know it will be a challenge, but it’s something I’m looking forward to. My first priority is to get used to the car in pre-season testing. Everything will be new – new car, new team and an entirely new format for the race weekends. However, as the first season of a new championship, everyone is going to be in a very similar situation. As a driver that’s an exciting position to be in and a great opportunity to show what you can do. I’m sure it will be a very competitive series, and watching the racing should be very exciting. It should be a great season.”
Vice President and Head of N Brand Management and Motorsport Sub-Division at Hyundai Motor Company, Till Wartenberg said: “It is clear that electric power is one route for the future of the automotive industry, and also for motorsport, so to have Hyundai Motorsport and the Hyundai Veloster N ETCR as part of PURE ETCR from the very start is very important. The series offers a great opportunity to show the high-performance potential of an electric powertrain, in a car that is instantly recognizable as a Hyundai. Maintaining this clear link between the race and road-going models is a vital part to all our motorsport projects, and is perhaps even more important here as the pace of change of development in electric cars is so rapid. Already the experience the Hyundai Motorsport team has gained during the development of the Hyundai Veloster N ETCR has been included in our ongoing development of road-going models, and this will only continue in the future tests and in the racing season to come.”
Hyundai Motorsport Team Principal Andrea Adamo said: “The building and development of the Hyundai Veloster N ETCR has been a huge challenge for everyone involved. The project represents so many firsts for the team – first all-electric car, first rear-wheel-drive chassis, first design where the motors are in the centre of the chassis. At every stage there has been something to learn. Racing in PURE ETCR is the natural next step for the project, and in the four drivers we have for the season ahead I believe we have a line-up where everyone is capable of racing for victory on every weekend. So far we have risen to, and beaten, every challenge that has presented itself in the process of building and developing the car and competition is just the latest one of these. I look forward to the start of the racing season, and seeing our four drivers in action.
Provisional 2021 PURE ETCR Calendar*
June 18-20 - Vallelunga, Italy
July 9-11 - Motorland Aragon, Spain
August 6-8 - Copenhagen, Denmark
August 21-22 – Hungaroring, Hungary
October 15-17 - Inje Speedium, South Korea