Home ERA 2023 ERA grid grows with winners of electric racing scholarships

2023 ERA grid grows with winners of electric racing scholarships

by Ida Wood

Photo: Ivan Tarantsov

ERA, the electric junior single-seater championship, has two more drivers signed up for its first season through scholarship schemes.

The series began in 2022 after delays of over a year with three-car demos at the Hungaroring and Jarama, then an eight-lap race in July at Zolder, where ERA’s headquarters is located. Six cars started the inaugural race, and the next rounds were all cancelled for a variety of reasons. That led ERA to switch focus back to private test running at Zolder.

Although a calendar for the five-round 2023 season is yet to be announced, as the eTouring Car World Cup which ERA supports has not revealed its schedule, there are four drivers signed up for the Europe-based season and two are the scholars.

The first scholarship, dubbed ‘Next Gen Racer’, was launched in September and offered a free seat for 2023 to the driver who impressed most based on merits on and off-track in test days with the ERA car that were to be held at Pau-Arnos at the end of November. Anyone who had not competed in the inaugural race and would be 16 years old by next March was able to enter.

Seven finalists were chosen, including Formula Regional Asia champion Joey Alders and Formula 4 racer Andre Castro, and the assessment days ran at Zolder rather than Pau-Arnos.

Winning the scholarship was Yashish Manohar, a 17-year-old former karter based in the United Arab Emirates who switched focus to Esports during the COVID-19 pandemic and made a return to real-world motorsport and his car racing debut last weekend in the inaugural Clio Cup Middle East event at Dubai Autodrome. He made the podium in his first race.

“I’ve trained and worked for months and I’m glad that the hard work has finally paid off,” Manohar said after winning the scholarship.

“This opportunity has and will change my life even more, and I can’t be more grateful to the entire ERA team for their initiative. It’s been a lifelong dream to race in an open-wheeler, but what makes it even better is the fact that it’s electric and the entire aura behind the championship is focused on progressing forward in the world of motorsport.”

The same criteria and reward was applied to the second scholarship launched in partnership with Racing Pride, an organisation promoting LGBTQ+ participation in motorsport. Its scholarship was to go to a driver who identifies as LBGTQ+.

The test sessions for the six finalists took place at Zolder in October, and the winner was Franco-Madagascan Emilie Villa. The 27-year-old has spent the past 12 months getting mileage at multiple circuits in GT4 sportscars and single-seaters.

Scholarship runner-up Luke Pullen will become an ERA reserve driver, with a ‘Next Gen’ runner-up also joining the reserve roster.

ERA’s other two race drivers are Zolder poleman Ellis Spiezia and Danish Formula 4 racer Victor Nielsen. Zolder winner Cameron Hawes was signed by ERA as an offical test driver.