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Motorsport shows leadership in going green

A1GP World Cup of Motorsport has unveiled a series of initiatives to help reduce its environmental footprint. Measures include switching to biofuel (30% ethanol mix), waste reduction measures, carbon-offsetting unavoidable emissions and promoting environmental awareness to a global audience spanning 150 countries.

These initiatives were announced at A1GP’s Official 2007/08 Test Session at Silverstone International Circuit by Pete da Silva, CEO, A1GP, in front of a global audience which included the UK Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment Peter Ainsworth MP.

Pete da Silva recognises that motorsport, especially racing with such a global dimension, is bound to have a large carbon footprint. So A1GP has brought in external advisers to analyse its environmental impact, and it’s now implementing measures that will improve the green credentials of its operations. Pete da Silva is open and realistic about what they’re doing; they’re not claiming to be 100% green; but at least they’re making an effort to start taking action now, with the commitment to make further improvements in the future.

“In addition to offering a great global sporting event we have a responsibility to conduct our business in a manner which minimises the impact of our operations on the environment. We take this responsibility seriously and aim to develop and promote environmental technology, differentiating A1GP from other global series. At the same time, our initiatives will educate our staff, partners, fans and the community at large about the ongoing fight against climate change” said Pete da Silva.

Peter Ainsworth MP commented: “There are millions of motorsport fans around the world. And millions of environmentally concerned citizens. Today’s announcement by A1GP brings the two a little closer together and that can only be a good thing for the fight against climate change.”

A1GP is the first truly global motorsport body to switch to a 30% biofuel mix. The decision to move to a bio-ethanol based engine was made possible through partnership with Zytek, the series’ engine manufacturer. The new fuel, an ethanol based product Hiperflo™ E30, is produced by the racing fuels specialist blender, Petrochem Carless. Sourced from sugar beet in Europe and specifically produced for the A1GP series, the fuel produces less harmful particulate matter than conventional fuels and will reduce the amount of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. By implementing E30, A1GP are expecting to reduce CO2 emissions per car by 21% this coming season based on a well to wheel basis calculation.

The decision was taken to use a 30% ethanol mix rather than an 85% or 100%. This was based on the desire not to incur additional environmental costs. An 85% biofuel mix would have impacted on the length of the race and therefore introduced the need for fuel stops given that the burn rate for E85 is higher than E30. When the A1GP series was established it was designed not to have fuel stops, thus limiting the amount of equipment that needed to be transported from circuit to circuit. At a 30% mix A1GP can guarantee the same excitement, engine power, response and overall performance in the cars whilst simultaneously keeping the need for extra air transportation to a minimum.

Beyond carbon, another key impact is waste. The series gets through a lot of tyres, up to 7,000 per season. What to do about the mountain of used tyres created is a major challenge. No tyres are sent to landfill as part of the partnership with Cooper Tyres, and A1GP is now looking at how tyres can be recycled more efficiently. Pete da Silva says it is not impossible to imagine a top series in the future running on recycled tyres.

A1GP’s biggest carbon footprint however comes not from racing, but from the logistics of flying equipment around. Early on in the series A1GP looked at this area and reduced their need for air transport by one third.

A1GP unveiled a series of other initiatives as part of a new environmental policy developed with Ernst & Young. This policy will guide the future direction of A1GP establishing a set of core environmental principles right at the heart of its operations. The policy is based on a four-pillared long-term mission to reduce, replace, offset and promote.

Also announced was a commercial partnership with Vectrix, a provider of zero-emission electric maxi-scooters. Vectrix will provide these maxi-scooters for use throughout the series, transporting drivers, staff and media around race location circuits, reducing the need for petrol based transportation.

Alongside these commitments to minimising its own environmental impacts A1GP will look to promote environmental awareness across its fan base throughout the course of the 2007/08 season. This will be achieved through a combination of marketing platforms such as consumer displays, trackside and on-car signage, website and broadcast.

Pete da Silva added: “Our commitment to the environment doesn’t stop at the racetrack: we are reaching out to our global audience to educate and influence. Millions of people enjoy our races and we believe we can help empower them to consider their relationship with the environment and take action to reduce their impact upon it. Our global reach also gives us the ability to engage with our partners on a worldwide level about their own carbon footprint, which will be key to reducing global carbon emissions.”

Launched in 2004, A1GP World Cup of Motorsport is an entirely new concept where driver is against driver and country is against country for the first time in history. In addition to the traditional motorsport fan base, A1GP attracts a new audience passionate about their country and heritage. A1GP brings together 22 nations in 11 races in 10 countries to compete as equals without financial or technological advantage. A1GP is keen to allow fans to interact with teams and drivers as part of its inclusive approach. Because A1GP is a single make series it is possible to implement change and technological advances more quickly and holistically.

The 06/07 season saw 700,000 people attend during the season, and increased TV viewership averaged 7.5 million live viewers per race with a further 14 million viewers per race watching on associated sporting programmes.

Green-Car-Guide wishes Pete da Silva and his team great success with reducing the environmental impact of A1GP, and we look forward to seeing how the environmental messages are communicated to 14 million viewers around the world – that’s certainly an important opportunity not to be missed.