XAVI SERRA, CUPRA HEAD OF RACE ENGINEERING: "We are electrifying cupra, thus we have to electrify motorsport"
We had an opportunity to talk to Cupra's Head of Race Engineering, Xavi Serra about Cupra's presence in PURE ETCR and Extreme E
The Seat sports brand, Cupra, has been a part and a pioneer of TCR concept in the beginning, and is now pioneering the electric TCR with their E-racer. Also, with the new Extreme E, they have joined together with ABT. We talked with their Head of Race Engineering, and this is what he said to us.
TheEDrive: Xavi, what was your motivation to join these Electric racing projects?
Xavi Serra: "Because Motorsport is at the core of the Cupra brand, and the fact that we want to contribute to the transformation of the classic motorsport and we want to develop new racing experiences, made us take the decision. There could be other racing series that can fit with these statements, but Extreme E was a perfect match. We are electrifying Cupra, and thus we have to electrify Motorsport. We started the other way around, and we started with our Cupra E-racer back in 2018, and now we are coming up with this new Extreme E. The second point would be the sustainability, which is part of our DNA as well. It's not only sustainability, since we travel to remote places where climate change has hit hard, but because we will develop and we will race more sustainable, in the terms of research used to race the cars, manpower, travels, materials to develop and so on, and so on. Last but no least, gender-balance. The fact that both men and women have exactly the same opportunities, same mileage, same laps and same machinery is something really thrilling. We will prove that this is possible and it would be a successful model."
TheEDrive: Apart from the category and the looks of cars, what are some of the key technical differences between Extreme E and PURE ETCR?
Xavi Serra: "Related to the pure electric technology, not that big, in the sense that battery technology is basically the same - the cells are ion-lithium. The motor technology is the same, high performance motors, inverters, everything is the same. The core technology is known to us, because we developed and worked on it a lot. The difference is in the application, the use of it is totally different. It requires more cooling, in case of the E-racer, and less stress in the case of Extreme E, for example."
TheEDrive: Since the first presentation of the Cupra E-Racer, how has it changed until now that it is actively tested?
Xavi Serra: "We are proud to say that the basic layout of the car hasn't changed and is already adopted by other brands. We were pioneering the concept and we paved the way for the future Touring Car electric mobility and competition. We have improved in terms of thermal capacity and the package is able to withstand more time, more loads, and we are able to use the full capacity of the battery at very high speed without heating, derating, because of the temperature and we have developed inverters and some other parts as well."
TheEDrive: What do you think will be the biggest challenge for the cars (PURE ETCR and Extreme E) in their first races?
Xavi Serra: "They will share one challenge: the high weight and high power and torque that they have. The high weight is not the drawback in itself, because you can have a lot of torque and power with a very reduced amount of weight and volume in terms of the motors. The battery is the opposite, but in terms of the motors, one of the challenges is to be able to get good use of the huge instant torque that you have on both. For the side of Extreme E it will be to go around the challenges and I guess it won't be a matter of going flat-out because there will be stones on the road, there will be dunes, and a lot of changes where you won't be full on the throttle every time. The PURE ETCR is more for the track, and there will be plenty of occasions where you are driving full throttle and therefore, you produce a lot of heat, and the batteries need to be properly cooled down."
TheEDrive: How many input in the development was given by the drivers, Jordi Gene was there from the start, and also Mattias Ekstrom?
Xavi Serra: "A lot. And they still provide the input. Of course we have our data logging system, our telemetry, but what they feel in the car is not something that can be measured. It's very important when you are creating a brand new concept, to see it in different angles, not only engineering point of view. They have both contributed in steering us on the development path."
TheEDrive: Since the big topic for Formula E is development of electric road car technology, how can PURE ETCR and Extreme E add to it?
Xavi Serra: "We see a clear link. Later this year we will launch the Cupra Born for the street. In 2024, it will be the turn of Tavascan and with both of ETCR and Extreme E we are already exploring and getting the necessary knowhow on how to deal with high-performance electric motors and batteries. These will be translated and used in road cars sooner rather than later.