Shis arrival, before noon on Sunday, stirred up the quiet paddock of the Jarama Circuit. It was not be for lowerly. It is not every day that you visit a speed circuit for a whole President of SEAT and CEO of Cupra. Wayne Griffiths wanted to support with his presence the Spanish appointment of the FIA ETCRthe Electric Touring Car World Cup… and he gave luck to his team, who signed a sound (or perhaps it should be said silent) triplet in his honor.
Between commitment and commitment the British had a meeting with MARK to address the role of the Spanish brand in competitioncurrently involved in two top-level electric championships such as Extreme E and this FIA ETCR. The first thing we wanted to know is if Griffithsas Cupra (the brand name is the acronym for Cup-Racing), has motorsport in its DNA.
“I am very fond of cars, I have a 66. You can almost say that I was born in a dealership in England, the country of sports cars. My father always had Aston Martins, Jaguars… when I was young I drove all kinds of cars behind the dealership, “he recalls. The executive, who landed at Seat in 2016, is not new to racing. “My career in the industry has largely spent Audi, which is another competition brand. That is why it is no coincidence that Mattias [por Ekström] be in this project. I was one of the managers at Audi when he started at the STCC [el campeonato sueco de turismos]then we went to Le Mans… This world attracts me a lot,” he acknowledges.
Motorsport has to transform. And it’s not just about changing fuel for electrification
“But…” -there’s always a but- “…he has to change. If it is not changed, motorsport will disappearyou can not live on the beautiful memories of how everything was before. Young people are looking for something elsethey will find it and motorsport can play a role there, but has to transform“, he assures absolutely convinced of his arguments. “And It’s not just changing fuel for electrification. That’s not going to work. We will have to find ways, but I am optimistic because I see that it continues to attract”.
Then, what should be the motorsport of the new generation? Reply. “Perhaps it has to be more onlineplus gamingmore of experience y emotional. one more activity immersive, because now you come to the races and if you don’t have a pass -he points to his own- you don’t have access to many things. gotta do it more accessible and entertaining“.
Support for the competition
This particular vision of the competition of the top manager of the Spanish company explains why Cupra is involved in tan innovative championships like Extreme E or the FIA ETCR. Also, on the way to the electrification that the Spanish brand travels in its street cars.
“Cupra has to be in competition, I support this from day one. But on new platforms, like the ones we have opted for. That’s why we had the courage to enter the Extreme E as the only manufacturer, in a very new competition and with ambitions to go to threatened parts of the world. And at the same time here, with the ETCR. Us we did the engineering of these cars and that is important for the Cupra brand,” he explains.
With scarcely four years of lifeCupra can already boast of an FIA title: the Pure ETCR World Cup achieved in 2021. “The balance is positive even despite the fact that we have had two years of Covid. They have not been easy years for the motorsport, without the possibility of making emotional and face-to-face experiences. This has slowed us down, for example, here in the ETCR, which is a platform that has to expand. It is the moment in which other brands have to arrive because it is a very interesting championship for the technology transfer from the circuit to the street“.
We are open to other competitions, but they have to be new. Formula E I don’t think is an option for us at the moment
“In addition to this, we have the Cupra UrbanRebelwhich has potential for Electric Rallycross“, he assured leaving a open door of future to that competition. And he did not forget the virtual part either: “With our experience in the metaverse we will be able to offer drive a car in another world with the VR glasses. This has great potential, linking the virtual world with the real world is something very interesting, “he advanced.
What Griffiths did rule out they are higher ambitionshow to represent the Volkswagen group in Formula E in the future: “We are always open to doing new things, but we are more interested in this, that they are new models to big championships. We have to have that pioneering touch, to try things. But what we have started must be finished. I don’t think Formula E is an option for us. Right now, we’re not that established to jump onto a platform at this level.”