Formula E could race in Cape Town as soon as February 2021 and is pushing ahead with plans to try to secure an E-Prix in the South African city.
The organisers of the project announced the completion of the required feasibility study on Wednesday.
Three potential circuit options are to be considered for the event. The Race understands that e-Movement (Pty) Ltd, the company behind the plans, is working towards next February as its preferred race date.
All of the proposed circuit configurations are close to the stadium that hosted one of the semi-finals of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in the country.
The stadium is the permanent home of Ajax Cape Town FC, and is located in the Green Point area of the city. It is believed that Formula E’s favoured layout offers a spectacular backdrop of Table Mountain and the dramatic South Atlantic coastline.
e-Movement (Pty) Ltd has confirmed that it has completed an official feasibility study, specified by Formula E for interested cities, in the bid to host a race. The company has also confirmed support from Jaguar South Africa for the initiative.
Iain Banner, who started the Laureus World Sports Awards and who was also involved in Rothmans’ motorsport programme in the 1980s, heads up e-Movement (Pty) Ltd, in conjunction with Johann Rupert.
Rupert was ranked as the second wealthiest person in South Africa on the Forbes Rich List last year, with an estimated fortune of US$7.3billion.
“The objective of the study was to assess the suitability of Cape Town as a possible venue for a round of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship in future seasons,” said Banner.
“Three possible circuit layouts have been identified and we are now in the process of exploring these possibilities with the city of Cape Town and other interested parties.
“As a starting point, the preliminary track layout and how it fits into the existing fabric of the precinct – as well as the future development proposals around the identified track – were all key factors in assessing the city of Cape Town’s suitability.
“The primary objective was to design a suitable circuit layout that will have minimum impact on the city, require minimum construction work, cause minimum disruption to general public and traffic, and, crucially, leave a lasting legacy”.
The Race understands that the person who will head up the operational side of the project is Dave McGregor. He is an ex-managing director of the Kyalami circuit and promoted Formula 1’s last two South African Grands Prix in 1992 and ’93. He was also involved in an aborted attempt to bring F1 to Cape Town a decade ago.
Full details of the Cape Town plans follow last June’s news that the city was studying the possibility of hosting an E-Prix. Formula E delegates visited Cape Town in September to conduct the feasibility study.
The targeted February 2021 date would mean the circuit had to be designed to avoid causing significant disruption due to that period being peak holiday season in the city.
Cape Town City Councillor and Mayoral Committee member JP Smith welcomed the positive outcome of the feasibility study, saying: “The event is so much more than an E-Prix – it provides an opportunity to position the city of Cape Town and the Western Cape region as the pioneering renewable energy hub of South Africa.
“The event would not only showcase the natural beauty of our city but such an event places Cape Town at the forefront of alternative and green energy initiatives, and serves as a catalyst for attracting investment and the creation of employment in a sector for which major growth is projected in the foreseeable future.”
A Formula E spokesperson said of the proposal that “all discussions have been positive so far and it is encouraging to have Cape Town on the list of candidate host cities for future seasons”.
South Africa already has a major international motorsport fixture in February as a round of the World Endurance Championship has already been confirmed for 6 February 2021 at Kyalami. Prior to that the circuit will also host a round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge this November.
Several members of the Formula E paddock have strong links with South Africa, including Jaguar Racing senior management members James Barclay and Gary Ekerold – who were both born and raised in the country.
“What is positive is that there are good discussions regarding a potential new city location like Cape Town,” Barclay told The Race in Marrakesh last weekend.
“It is a really iconic city with an amazing backdrop and if it can happen that it will be great for the venue and for Formula E.
“There is a big beachfront area close to the Green Point stadium called Sea Point which is really nice and it’s a world renowned area.
“There is obviously work to do to get it as a race venue but as a city it would be right up there with some of the other major cities we race at.”
South Africa has a track record in international street circuit racing having been host to the Durban A1GP race (pictured above) between 2006 and 2008.
Formula E plans to issue a provisional 2020-21 calendar to the FIA World Motorsport Council when it sits at Chiang-Mai in Thailand on 19 June.
The Race understands that the seventh Formula E season is likely to kick-off at Diriyah in Saudi Arabia on 18 December with potentially the first ever Formula E night event.