Xavier Gavory gives his take on the first season of FIA ETCR

And then, it was over. After an intense six-round season the battle cries have subsided now from the first year of the FIA ETCR eTouring Car World Cup. Series Director, Xavier Gavory, gives his take on an incredible 2022.

Was the first season of the FIA ETCR eTouring Car World Cup as you expected?
The series is still young but is getting stronger despite the challenges along the way. The most important element is the fact we are stepping up and building momentum. To become an FIA World Cup embodies such a big step up and was a proper game changer.

On track, the action was phenomenal, with so many different scenarios taking place in our race format. We saw photo finishes, team-mates crashing into each other, drivers speaking directly to their rivals whilst still out on track to voice their opinions, team tactics and dramatic off-track moments.

At the end, the assessment is as positive as promising. We were seen by nearly 160k spectators over the season, gained much more visibility compared to 2021 with the PURE ETCR and as a result, our media value increased by more than 300% across only the first five events, thanks to more broadcasters, better broadcast times, and an increased volume of broadcast, more events, a reinforced line-up of drivers, incredible racing and a happy ETCR family. It’s been a positive year.

How different was the FIA variant in 2022 relative to the PURE flavour in 2021?
In 2021 PURE ETCR was mainly considered as a test season, especially with all the global challenges at the time. 2022, in comparison, was a proper launch pad towards a bright future. I’m particularly proud of the fact that we managed to keep our DNA – being different and daring – whilst serving proper sport through a different racing format with short and sharp battles and a more sustainable approach.

The main difference came from the simplification of the sporting format and the evolution of our brand identity and look and feel especially on TV. But the big change came probably from our way of telling the story on TV with more action and more windows to our sport for linear television.

What were the highlights of 2022 for you?
There are so many things to remember, so much bumper-to-bumper action on track and daring moves from the drivers, spins, off tracks, emotions on the podium. It’s possible to look at each and every one of our six rounds and point to great things happening. Our season-opener, Infinite Reality Race FR as part of Pau Motors Festival, was incredible. We showcased electric racing on the streets of such an iconic motor racing location in front of massive crowds. It set the scene for the season, with CUPRA EKS being dominant, and this led to great fightbacks from Romeo Ferraris and Hyundai Motorsport N, with both having King of the Weekend drivers over the course of the season.

Our last race at Sachsenring was also a great mix of all the action we’ve enjoyed this year, starting with four contenders coming into the event, a lot of drama, lots of spectators, and a deserving King: Adrien Tambay who was consistent and full of fight all season long.

None of what we achieved in 2022 would not have been possible without all the hard work from everyone at Discovery Sports Events and our stakeholders, the FIA, WSC, Goodyear, DHL, NextHash, HTWO and Magelec Propulsion and we thank everyone for their support.

What were the challenging aspects of this season?
To launch a new series is a challenge in itself! Among the challenges, and alongside the logistics constraints that forced us to change our calendar, and the extremely hot weather faced during nearly the entire season, one of the main challenges was to shift core motorsport fans’ perception about electro mobility and electric racing.

We are conscious that we are at the beginning of the journey. But even if some remain reluctant, and it will still take some time, the most satisfying aspect was to witness some complete changes of mind. Our cars are so powerful, so impressive, the battles are so muscular and unpredictable on track, that lots of people joined the movement. That’s a great satisfaction to pave the road for the future of mobility.

What surprised you this season?
The enthusiasm of the people on site and this was especially illustrated with the new generation of fans we saw in Vallelunga. Our local promoter together with Regione Lazio brought hundreds of children to the circuit to discover electro mobility and electric racing and it was fabulous to share our series with a new, engaged, and excited audience.

The other thing that positively surprised me was the fast acceleration of the common understanding about global warming after this terrible summer, which gives our sustainable approach even more sense. Motorsport must change. We all need to change our way of living and our consumption patterns. Electro-mobility is part of the global solution, and we are proud to promote it and take concrete action towards sustainability.

How strong was the driving?
FIA ETCR is also all about sport and action and the driving was intense. Our rear-wheel-drive cars are over-powered and challenging to drive, and with our drivers being among the best touring car drivers in the world, the spectacle was at its best. It was so satisfying to welcome new drivers with such incredible careers like Bruno Spengler, Maxime Martin, Adrien Tambay and Norbert Michelisz alongside familiar faces like Mattias Ekström.

What changes would you like to make in the near future?
There are exciting things to come. We will keep building momentum with more events and moving to one driver per car which will allow us to simplify our sporting format. There’s quite a lot of things cooking, and we look forward to bringing them to life!