|Jean-Eric Vergne prepares for the new Formula E season by racing a cheetah in Western Cape, South Africa.|
By Nicholas Atkin
Ahead of this weekend’s season-opening HKT Hong Kong E-Prix double header, it was cheetah versus Techeetah in South Africa as the Chinese-backed FIA Formula E Championship team made a short film to raise awareness of the threat of climate change to wildlife.
The cheetah can go from zero to 100 kilometres per hour (62mph) in around three seconds ? just like a Formula E car ? and Techeetah driver Jean-Eric Vergne was put to the test in a drag race in the Western Cape.
The race was part of a promotional effort to mark next week’s United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi.
There are less than 7,000 cheetahs remaining in the wild, with the species further threatened by man-made rising temperatures ? an issue UN Environment partner Formula E looks to tackle.
The all-electric series aims to advance vehicle technology to create cleaner cars for racing and consumers.
“The Techeetah Formula E Team and I want to be part of raising awareness for the wider impact that climate change has on our planet,” said Vergne.
“We do it mostly by showcasing and developing our electric cars across the world throughout the Formula E season, but we wanted to do more outside the racetrack.
“We have a strong desire to raise awareness for the main threats cheetahs face, such as illegal trade of cubs for pets, loss of prey due to habitat loss and fragmentation aggravated by climate change.
“I’m really proud to have participated in this film.”
The film was overseen by conservation experts and animal welfare organisations.
“We knew the similarities in performance between the Formula E car and a cheetah, so we were curious to see the outcome,” said Formula E founder and chief executive Alejandro Agag.
“But, what’s even more important is to determine the outcome for the future for not only us, but the cheetah and other animals we share our planet with.
“We only have one planet and we must address the issues we currently face from the source and electric cars can play a key role in reducing C02 emissions worldwide.”
Vergne will look to pick up where he left off when he arrives at the Central Harbourfront circuit this weekend after claiming his first Formula E victory in the final race of the 2016-17 season in Montreal. The Frenchman finished finishing fifth overall in the drivers standings last season, with Techeetah also fifth in the team standings.