Even though motor sports are among the most popular international sport disciplines in the Grand Duchy, the national scene may at first sight seem small compared with the neighbouring countries. But despite volunteer shortages (see interview below), the scene is dynamic, with a group of hard-core enthusiasts in the various national and international disciplines, with the Grand Duchy's red lion symbol to be seen just about everywhere in the global family of motor sports. To give just a few examples: the international success of the young Dylan Pereira, the commitment of the F1 company Genii, the devotion of the Hauser family to the national and international scene, sponsoring by Leopard Racing, and at the national and regional level the work of the federations - the ACL (automobiles) and the MUL (motorcycles) - with their stables and affiliated clubs.
The Luxembourg scene in action in the Grand Duchy and further afield
The Grand Duchy has a rich tradition involving motor sports, going back to the first Eschdorf hill race held in 1912. Since then, competitions of all kinds have been held regularly throughout the Grand Duchy. In addition to the two world-famous circuits on its doorstep (the Nürburgring and the Spa-Francorchamps circuit), the Grand Duchy also has its own permanent racetrack - the Goodyear circuit in Colmar-Berg. What began as a test track for the products of the Goodyear group is now also used for a range of regional and international races.
The Luxembourg Automobile Club (Automobile Club du Luxembourg, ACL) endorses several national championships for hill racing, rallies, circuits, slaloms and kart racing. Regional races are also organised by clubs and associations; they include the Grand Duchy's stock-car championship.
For the duration of the long Whitsun weekend, the Eschdorf hill race (European Hill Race) takes over the winding RN12, attracting stars in the category with their single-seater, sports and standard vehicles. And Luxembourgish drivers have made a name for themselves at the international level, winning the Nations Cup at the 2018 FIA Hill Climb Masters event in Gubbio (Italy), ahead of the Italians' home team.
The Lëtzebuerg Rally takes place in the area around Hosingen in the Ardennes; it brings together a goodly range of participants from the Greater Region and further afield.
Environmental issues: challenges and responses
Generally, motor sports have to deal with a subject of major importance - climate change - and awareness of ecological issues. The sport and its federations are not standing still in the face of these challenges. The action being undertaken by the FIA and the FIM is not only in favour of the environment and the introduction of regulations encouraging the economical use of fuel and hybrid propulsion (F1, Le Mans, etc.), but also - and above all - includes the introduction of all-electric competitions (Formula E and MotoE).
Given the prolific activity of Luxembourgers in every category of motor sports worldwide, it remains to be seen whether the Grand Duchy will move into these pioneering categories.
(Article written by the editorial team of the portal 'www.luxembourg.lu' - Photos: ACL / Henri Schwirtz)
Three questions for...
Andy Mathekowitsch, the ACL's Sports' Director
Motor sports in the Grand Duchy offer an attractive range of races and a calendar with several highlights. How to you see the future of the sport in the Grand Duchy?
Activity in the Grand Duchy in terms of sporting events is heavily dependent on the number of organisers and volunteers; unfortunately, there aren't many of them at the moment. Given the shortage of volunteers - which is also an issue in other sports in the Grand Duchy - we are currently in talks with a number of foreign organisers with a view to possibly being able to put on more sporting events in the Grand Duchy in the future.
Do you see any opportunities for the Grand Duchy's young drivers to progress towards the major international racing series?
Many of our young people are already regularly achieving excellent performances at the international level - examples include Dylan Pereira (circuit), Gil Linster (circuit), Kevin Peters (autocross) and Grégoire Munster (rally). But it still needs to be borne in mind that above a certain level of competition, motor sports call for even larger budgets, and that often constitutes an insurmountable obstacle. Given his promising results, if the young kart driver Maxime Furon-Castelain (11 years old) continues along his path, he could well become a rising star in motor sports in the Grand Duchy.
How can motor sports in the Grand Duchy rise to the challenges of climate change? How likely is it that the Grand Duchy will commit to Formula E, or even a Luxembourg E-Prix?
Climate change is obviously something that concerns us, and we're looking into it. For example, we have already assessed the possibility of carrying out a project for children and young people between 8 and 18 years old using electric karts. However, the state of the technology at the time (short battery life and the impracticality of using replacement batteries) forced us to drop the project. But now a 'quick exchange' system would make it possible to swap batteries more quickly - in just a few seconds.
As for the possibility of an E-Prix for Formula E in the Grand Duchy, it would of course be excellent publicity both for our sport and for the Grand Duchy. We were in fact approached in the past by an association that was interested in organising an E-Prix, but faced with the necessary financial budget of between 12 and 15 million euros, the association was unfortunately not able to continue with the project. But if someone came along one day with the right money, it could theoretically be a possibility.