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Tesla Model S race car makes its debut, looks to electrify racing fans next year

In racing, some series rely on purpose-built cars, while others use modified production models that fans can relate to a bit better. That dichotomy is now emerging in the nascent electric-racing sphere.

First came Formula E, which uses its own open-wheel racers, and now we have the Electric GT Championship (also known as the Electric GT World Series). Its organizers plan to use modified Tesla Model S sedans, and the first race-prepped car made its debut Tuesday at an event in Ibiza, Spain.

Announced in March, the Electric GT series will kick off next year. Organizers wanted a race series for electric cars that used actual production models and, as the fastest electric road car around by a significant margin, the Model S was really the only thing that fit the bill. Other models could be added to the series in the future, but for now,  Electric GT is 100 percent Tesla.

Related: Formula E plans New York City race for July

While there are many Model S variants, Electric GT will only use the discontinued P85+ version because it’s the highest-performance rear-wheel drive version. Organizers wanted to stick with rear-wheel drive because it is generally considered to be better-suited to track driving, even though all-wheel-drive versions of the Model S offer better performance. The less-complicated rear-wheel drive setup will also make maintenance and repairs easier, organizers believe.

The powertrain remains stock, but the Model S still got an extensive makeover for racing, including modified suspension and steering. Fender flares and a big rear spoiler headline the exterior changes, while the interior was gutted to save weight. That’s essential, as the stock Model S weighs well over 4,000 pounds, which is pretty heavy for a road car, let alone a race car. The giant 17-inch touchscreen didn’t get thrown out, though.

Electric GT hopes to sign up 10 teams, which will field two drivers each. The inaugural season will consist of seven events, including a 20-minute practice session, 30-minute qualifying session, and two 60-kilometer (37-mile) races. The seven events will all be held in Europe, although Electric GT is also planning North American races that won’t be part of the championship.