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COLUMN BRITISH RACING GREEN HOW JAGUARS ACROSS THE AGES FULFIL MOTORSPORT PRESENTER NICKI SHIELDS’ TWIN PASSIONS It always amazes me how so many of us ‘petrol heads’ fall in love with motorsport and cars because of our parents. I am no exception. I truly fell in love with racing when my father took me to watch my first British Touring car race at Brands Hatch, when I was ten years old. Moving between Paddock Hill Grandstand (arguably the best view in UK motorsport), watching the drama unfold in front of us as the drivers plunged down the famous drop, and then walking over to Druids Hairpin, where the cars slowed down so much, I used rolls and rolls of camera film, snapping away to get the best shot. The sights and smells were like nothing I’d ever experienced before. I got the bug, and my mind was set on becoming a professional racing driver. Clearly, that plan never materialised; I went to university and studied biological sciences, with a particular interest in the environment and sustainability. But how would this ever fit in with a career around a race track? It turns out, rather well. In 2014, Formula E, the new all-electric racing championship, was announced – the perfect hybrid sport for a petrol head and environmentalist. I interviewed for the role of pitlane reporter and haven’t looked back since. Although I haven’t fulfilled my dream of becoming a professional racing driver, I have the next best job through my role as presenter and pitlane reporter at the Formula E Championship, in which Jaguar Racing runs a team. Now, I love electric cars, and spend a lot of time talking about the future of driving, electrification, autonomy and connectivity, but I also can’t resist an exquisite classic. The Jaguar E-type caught my eye first as a young girl. My father always used to talk about the model with such admiration. If he spotted one on the roads, it was like winning the grand finale of ‘eye spy’. I now also share that excitement if I spot the beautiful beast on the open road. It’s not just the stunning looks with the iconic long nose; it has pure racing pedigree and comes with a sense of nostalgia. Watching it destroy the AC Cobras as the Goodwood Revival only served to reaffirm my love for the iconic E-type. I was also lucky enough to drive the Jaguar C-type 1951 Le Mans winning car. It was incredible to take a step back in time and remind ourselves how far we have come since the evolution of the combustion engine. It was magnificent to drive, imagining what it must have felt like to drive for 24 hours and then take the win, but also slightly daunting being at the wheel of such a valuable classic, while double-declutching. And from the old to the new. My first experience sitting in Jaguar’s all-electric I-PACE SUV was at the Formula E race in Mexico last year. It was a showcar, although I did cheekily drive it a few feet forward, giving the PR team a bit of a fright. Finally, though, in December, an I-PACE arrived outside my house, with full permission to actually drive it on the roads this time. With 250 miles of charge in the ‘tank’, we set off for our Christmas holidays. A compact SUV that could fit everything, including the kitchen sink (well, as part of a child’s play kitchen). It had stunning design, comfortable high-end interior and the type of performance you’d expect from a Jaguar. With the instant acceleration and 100% torque from the electric motor, we felt right at home on the roads. And hopefully, created memories that inspire more kids to dream of a whole new kind of motoring excitement... Nicki Shields is a TV presenter. The face of Formula E coverage on BBC iPlayer, she also anchors CNN shows Supercharged and Going Green and, previously, ITV’s Goodwood Festival of Speed and Revival. PHOTOS: STEF BLENDIS, CNN; CHARLIE GRAY 78 THE JAGUAR

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