GT Academy Winner Lucas Ordonez to Race Will Smith’s Electric Powerboat in E1 Series

GT Academy’s first ever winner, Lucas Ordonez, is turning his attentions to the water as he takes control of the E1 Series “Racebird” powerboat this weekend for Hollywood megastar Will Smith.

E1 Series is a new venture from Spanish businessman Alejandro Agag, the mind behind both Formula E and Extreme E. Having taken electric power to the race track and offroad in those two championships, water was the next obvious choice.

Like Extreme E, E1 Series is aimed at promoting conservation efforts — this time of the oceans rather than the unique habitats visited by Extreme E. The goal is not only to draw attention to marine conservation, but promote greener practices, including the installation of charging points at race venues.

Of course the Racebird powerboat itself, developed specifically for the series, is a key component. The all-electric machine sports a 35kWh battery pack and a 150kW (201hp) outboard motor from Mercury Racing. This helps propel the surface-piercing hydrofoil at speeds of up to 50 knots (58mph).

Smith is the latest high-profile owner in the E1 Series, entering a team under his Westbrook branding. Like Extreme E, each team has some celebrity links, with other teams owned and operated by stars from different fields like Steve Aoki, Tom Brady, Didier Drogba, Rafael Nadal, and Sergio Perez.

Each team has a mixed-gender pilot lineup, with the racers coming through a competitive training program under the Union Internationale Motonautique’s E1 Pilot Academy. Of the 39 entrants, only 20 would become eligible for E1 Series selection — including Ordonez, who will pair up with X Games, Extreme E, and Dakar Rally racer Sara Price from the USA.

The first race in E1 Series took place in Jeddah back in March, with Team Brady’s Sam Coleman (a British P1 Super Stock powerboat racer) and Finnish W Series racer Emma Kimilainen taking victory. Westbrook Racing will debut at this weekend’s second round in Venice, and you’ll be able to watch all the action live on the E1 Series YouTube channel.

It’s not the first crossover between the world of Gran Turismo and high performance watercraft of course: Mercedes built a speedboat version of its Vision Gran Turismo car way back in 2014. Although our subsequent article about a powerboat racing game from Polyphony Digital was an April Fool’s treat, perhaps it’s just become fractionally more likely!

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