After an incredible opener to the FIA ETCR eTouring Car World Cup on the streets of Pau Ville, Series Director Xavier Gavory gives his overview on the superb event that was the Pau Motors Festival, including the Infinite Reality Race FR.
What did you think about the entire event in Pau?
It was a spectacular event at such an iconic venue. The whole city had a proper festival vibe with the Pau Motors Festival and we could see so many happy people in and around the circuit. The official crowd figure for visitors to the city during the weekend was over 100,000 which is an increase of over 30% since the event last took place and it was wonderful to see the interest in both the racing and also all the new technologies too.
What did FIA ETCR bring to the party?
FIA ETCR was an exciting new component on track and we were able to showcase the possibilities of electric propulsion and hydrogen solutions in scintillating fashion. We were also able to work with a new partner for this event with Infinite Reality which was a rewarding new relationship. We brought exciting and convincing electric racing which showcased the extraordinary performance of the world’s fastest-accelerating touring cars which created exciting action for all to see.
What was different for the first round of FIA ETCR eTouring Car World Cup compared to its predecessor?
For us there were many changes, some behind the scenes, some visible to all but everything was designed to enhance and improve the series. Our first round was the result of six months hard work to put together essentially a brand new series. Even if the FIA ETCR grew from its predecessor, PURE ETCR, almost every element is either revised or new. We have a new enhanced sporting format, new people, new structures, a new graphics universe so there was a lot to mesh together and everything went well with no major issues. It was fantastic to see this incredible line-up for the first time.
What can be improved?
Pau was our first event as an FIA World Cup and for sure there were many learnings to be taken away. A street event always has its own logistical, operational and technical challenges and it was a resumption for the event after a break for the pandemic.
From a technical and operational standpoint, a street course is distinct in its requirements so all our personnel and the teams had to work really hard to ensure everything worked as it should and all did a fabulous job to achieve this.
Certainly, we have many areas we’d want to improve if we were to return to Pau in the future, but this will be the same for every venue we visit as we aim to continue to improve at every step with this new series.
Can we expect to see a return to Pau Ville in the future?
There has been a lot of positive feedback received and from a series perspective we would love to return. It’s a very good fit between FIA ETCR and Pau Motors Festival as the event is all about bringing back racing to the streets of Pau, but with a more sustainable approach, in keeping with the aim of the entire city to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040, ten years ahead of the EU target.
The event showed new technologies, whether hydrogen, electric, biofuel or synthetic fuel and it represented a turning point. We can say now the event is over that it was a success. We will work hard with the municipality and the city to hopefully bring the bring the race and the FIA ETCR back to the city of Pau, with this iconic circuit which is leading a proper revolution through electric racing.
What was the response from the fans and media?
The response has been very positive with a lot of interest locally and in France in general. The fans on site were super interested and gave us great feedback. FIA ETCR is available in 183 countries with 27 broadcasters outside of the Eurosport network so the potential is huge and we will continue to grow, develop and spread the word about our unique form of racing.
What has been the feedback from the teams?
The great thing is we have buy-in from all the teams and a very open discourse. All three squads are pushing hard in a sporting sense and pushing hard to build this new series. Going from event with no spectators as was seen during the pandemic to an event like we’ve just enjoyed was appreciated by all; it’s great to see fans enjoying our sport in person once more. Many drivers made their ETCR debuts in Pau and there were many positive words about the cars, the format and the event. We’re working closely with the teams to keep improving at every step.
What’s the outlook heading to a Formula 1 spec race track after racing the street course like Pau?
Istanbul next week will be a completely different atmosphere. In terms of the competition, it’s clear that CUPRA EKS have laid down their marker at the first round of the year but equally we saw the pace and potential of Hyundai Motorsport N and Romeo Ferraris too. Istanbul Park is a very different circuit from Pau Ville so there is no point coming to too many conclusions ahead of the next round.
The diversity of tracks and locations is something pretty exciting about the FIA ETCR calendar as we have a mix of traditional circuits, Formula One circuits and street circuits. So it's pretty exciting,
Whilst we’re excited to be going to Istanbul Park this season, we can’t wait for the treat on the horizon that will be to take to the streets of Istanbul in 2023.