Xavier Gavory debrief – Zolder

After the bish, bash and bravado of Race BE in Zolder for the fourth round of the FIA ETCR eTouring Car World Cup, Series Director Xavier Gavory gives an overview on the state of play in FIA ETCR

What are your thoughts in looking back at the Circuit Zolder Electrified event?
Zolder has a lot of heritage in motorsports, especially in touring cars but it’s pretty obvious when you arrive in Zolder in 2022 that sustainability and new energy is at the heart of its new DNA with the windmills and solar panels quite everywhere.

It was a good event with a lot of action. We had the first race of ERA and a Belgium driver crowned as the King of the Weekend. It was a great event, held in good conditions, with a very helpful and lovely team and staff on site it was all very professional. All in all, things went well.

What did FIA ETCR bring to the party?
As well as our normal exciting programme we had some extra very interesting activities including a drag race and a car swap. The event was Circuit Zolder Electrified and the goal was to showcase electromobility and soft mobilities. We had manufacturers who brought cars for testing on track, so the latest technology was immediately accessible. It was another of our events conceived and made for families. We used this platform to showcase the power and how interesting electric racing and our electric cars can be. We had a drag race between a Ferrari 488 Pista and the CUPRA eRacer And we must say that the CUPRA eRacer once more showcased that the torque and the acceleration is incredible!

It was also a big event for Hyundai Motorsport who brought Belgian national hero, Thierry Neuvillem who’s a 15-time WRC winner. Neuville swapped his Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid rally car with the Hyundai Veloster N ETCR car of Norbert Michelisz and this was a fantastic spectacle.

What can you say about the collaboration with Racing Pride?
The collaboration with Racing Pride was great and honestly a bit emotional too. It’s not so often that diversity and inclusion is highlighted at the occasion of motorsport events and on a racetrack. We had the feeling it had strong impact on the local communities, because we invited local associations to the circuit where they were very touched and surprised to be to be so welcome. We had the rainbow flag on the cars and on the starting gate. Richard Morris provided a testimony at the drivers’ briefing and all these things had an impact.

For us, it’s an ongoing quest for diversity and inclusion. We want to show the LGBTQ+ communities that motorsport is a safe and welcoming place. That’s our main message and it was well-received by everybody. We had some positive feedback during the weekend of people coming in saying, it’s great that you did it, it’s a great initiative, thank you for doing it. So that’s, that’s very, very positive.

What’s your view of the track action in Zolder?
Maxime Martin was a great winner of King of the Weekend. Romeo Ferraris was very competitive. We could see as well that even if you screw your qualifying, you can get back strongly as was the case for Hyundai Motorsport and Mikel Azcona. We also saw that CUPRA is extremely strong as well, but it’s not all the time that they are dominant so we can expect so great action for the rest of the season.

What’s your feedback about the first-ever ERA race that took place in Zolder?
It was a big stepping-stone for them but also a big stepping-stone for electric motorsport. They proved that despite the difficulties and kind of struggle they had over the last few months for the lack of raw material, logistics disruption and so on, you can have very exciting racing. Very, very exciting racing with so many of overtakes in such an intense manner. And this is very promising for what will happen in the future.

What’s the outlook for Race IT in Vallelunga?
It will be extremely intense, especially as it’s a weekend where we’re combined with WTCR and also ERA again too. Vallelunga is very symbolic because this is where everything started. Last year, this is where we had our test event as it’s where we had the very first race of the PURE ETCR. So it’s good to be back on that on the Italian soil just a short distance from Rome. It’s extremely positive as well because it’s Romeo Ferraris-land. They did very well in Belgium and they will certainly want to do even better in Italy. We have Italian drivers, and an Italian team. It’s the very first place where ETCR raced and we are together with WTCR. So, it’s set to be a lot of fun and there will be some great action.