Former F1 world champion Damon Hill has lent his backing to the inaugural EV Cup, the world's first 'green' motor racing series based totally around zero-emission electric cars.

The Briton, who claimed the 1996 F1 crown with Williams and Renault, admits that, despite the thrill of the top flight with its raucous petrol engines and money-devouring development practices, it is time that the world woke up to alternatives that provided a sustainable basis for motorsport.

"I think the time is fast approaching when we will have to rethink our expectations regarding private road transport generally," the British Racing Drivers' Club chairman emphasised, "The advantages of electric vehicles in urban environments are too many to miss. Less noise and less direct pollution are just two.

"The race is to save the planet from us! Racing electric vehicles should convince the wider public of their potential. Racing was initially used to develop and prove a new product called the motor car. I see no reason why electric vehicle development will not benefit in the same way. Who knows what is ultimately possible?"

Hill was speaking as the EV Cup released its calendar for the 2011 season, which sees four UK rounds split by a trip to Belgium before the series heads over the Atlantic to two of America's premier venues. Starting on 6 August at Silverstone, the schedule takes in Rockingham, Zolder and Brands Hatch before culminating with rounds at Laguna Seca and California Speedway in November and December.

"We are very excited by the races we have organised for this year," Sylvain Filippi, one of the founders of the EV Cup, commented, "Being able to add two races in California takes us in exactly the direction we have targeted. We only launched the EV Cup in January, so to be able to arrange seven races in year one is a sign that the world is ready for electric car racing.

"We are now into detailed planning for each event. We want to combine the traditional excitement of motor racing with an event that showcases the latest in electric motoring technology. It is our intention to make each event a great day out. There will be bands playing between races and a chance for everyone to take a close up look at the latest electric cars."

While entries for the EV Cup have yet to be revealed, Mitsubishi has told Edmunds Inside Line that it would be interested in contesting an electrically-powered race series. According to company president Osamu Masuko, the manufacturer would use such a series for the development of electric passenger cars, having recently launched its EV model in the USA as the Mitsubishi i.

With F1's governing body, the FIA, also announcing that it would be working with representatives of the European Commission to develop a racing series for electric vehicles, Mitsubishi might yet get its wish - even if F1 itself was unlikely to ever go that 'green'.

"The development costs for electric vehicles seem much lower than for gasoline cars, and it would also contribute to the technological development of cars that are already on the market," Masuko told Japan Today, "I'm said to be unenthusiastic about motorsports, but with electric vehicles, I want to promote them!"

Ben Collins, who made his name thrashing high-performance vehicles around a circuit as the hitherto anonymous Stig on the BBC series Top Gear, spoke at the launch of the EV Cup back in January, and was clearly in favour of the decision to branch out in another direction.

"Electric Vehicles represent a new dawn in motoring by running on clean energy that can be sourced as locally as organic sausages," he enthused, "It's surprising that mankind has taken so long to embrace the technology.

"Motorsport still offers the purest research and development platform to deliver the true potential of electric power and dynamic energy recovery; perhaps to a level that will shame the carbon combustion engine the way rubber tyres did the wooden cartwheel. EV is developing fast and the current crop of road cars are superb to drive. With a dedicated racing series that encompasses both road and racecar development, the next steps will be more like a quantum leap."

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