Extreme E: Ocean Legacy

Molly Taylor (AUS)/Johan Kristoffersson (SWE), Rosberg X Racing. Image courtesy of Sam Bloxham

As the chequered flag fell on the second round of Extreme E’s inaugural season, the championship still had plenty of work to complete off-track.

Extreme E’s tag line “Race Without a Trace” was put into action again in Senegal, as they aimed to highlight issues surrounding ocean health, whilst leaving a positive impact on the local communities. Educating on sea level rise, plastic pollution, and rising ocean temperatures, as well as planting mangroves and engaging schools were just some of the actions Extreme E took whilst out in Dakar.

Plastic pollution is a substantial problem on the Senegalese coast so Extreme E teamed up with to.org to support the Ecozone Project based in Lac Rose. The aim of the project is to raise awareness of climate issues and mitigation strategies by involving the local communities in the creation of a healthy environment. With this knowledge, the ultimate goal is to build a sustainable economy through guidance, resources, encouraging self-sufficiency, and economic autonomy.

In June 2020, the EcoBrique Challenge was launched. 3000 children and other locals took part in a huge effort to create more than 6000 bricks from plastic waste. Roughly 80% of plastics found in oceans come from land based sources, so not only is the EcoBrique Challenge helping to build a primary school toilet and benches, but it also helps locals recycle the waste that gets washed up on their shores.

Some other infrastructure was also built. Gardens were created to allow children to engage with local farmers, as well as planting more than 600 trees. They also installed a water pump to prevent the community from needing to walk long distances and increase cleanliness, vital for keeping disease at bay.

However, Extreme E’s initiatives weren’t just limited to the EcoBrique Project. They also aim to help to.org and NGO Oceanium plant one million mangroves. So far, over 500 people have helped the team reach the half of that figure in just three weeks.The remaining number will be planted during the 2021 rainy season, and with a whopping 85% of those already in place developing into healthy mangroves, Senegal will really start to see the benefits.

Nachson Mimran, CEO and Co-founder of to.org, explains that “Mangroves are not only the most effective trees on earth for sequestering carbon, they also protect against coastal erosion and regulate soil salinity so coastal communities can farm fertile soil.” She also states that mangroves protect fish habitats, ensuring locals can get the protein their diets need.

As in AlUla, the drivers and staff also took part in a beach clean. Together the likes of Jamie Chadwick, Stephane Sarrazin and Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky collected over 100 bags of waste from the Lac Rose beaches.

Extreme E raced in Senegal to highlight the issues surrounding ocean health. It is believed that half of coral reefs and a third mangroves and sea grasses have already been lost, leaving coastal communities vulnerable to erosion, storm damage, and food shortages. Vital fish stocks are teetering on a knife edge, threatening the entire food chain. Plastics, oil spills, and agrochemicals are destroying ocean habitats and affecting every animal in them. Climate change is also causing the heating of oceans, making them more acidic, melting ice, and causing the water to expand. Many islands and coastlines are at risk because the sea levels are rising by about 30 millimetres every ten years.

Sheena Talma, Scientific Committee Advisor to Extreme E, finished “When we talk about things like global climate change and the fact that it’s actually immediate, not two years from now and relying on someone else to deal with it, it makes people uncomfortable. But if we don’t talk about it, find solutions, and take action, we will all be in real trouble.”

Safe to say, Extreme has put some great initiatives together to ensure that they leave a positive impact on the communities they visit.

RXR Come Out On Top In Red Flagged Final

2016 Formula One World Champion Nico Rosberg’s team have sealed a second event win in as many races to extend their lead at the top of the Extreme E Constructors Championship.

Semi Final 1:

Sunday’s action kicked off with the first of the two semi finals. With the top two finishers out of X44, RXR, and Abt Cupra progressing to the final, it was sure to be an entertaining watch.

RXR lined up on the inside, with X44 alongside. Abt Cupra took to the outside grid slot. As the lights went green, there was a lot of initial wheel-spin. Ekstrom in the Abt Cupra was the quickest off the line though, and took an early lead into the first breaking zone. Just behind him X44’s Loeb and RXR’s Kristoffersson were battling it out for second place. Loeb narrowed ahead but Kristoffersson attempted a huge switchback move and took the position. All three cars ran nose to tail all the way through the lap but nobody was able to get by. As they came into the switch zone, Abt Cupra lead RXR, who lead X44.

However, more issues for Jutta Kleinschmidt in the switch-over saw Abt fall to the back of the pack and RXR take the lead. Gutierrez pushed Taylor the whole way but just could not find a way through, and, despite Jutta’s best efforts, she was not able to reclaim a position. RXR crossed the line just two seconds ahead of X44, who were themselves just one second ahead of Abt Cupra. Some incredible misfortune meant Abt Cupra finished the weekend in 5th position, as RXR and X44 progressed to the final.

Molly Taylor (AUS)/Johan Kristoffersson (SWE), Rosberg X Racing | Credit: Extreme E

Semi Final 2:

The second of the two semi finals was just as exciting as the first, arguably more so as Veloce, JBXE, and Xite Energy battled it out for the remaining two places in the final.

This time round, Veloce started on the inside with Jamie Chawick taking their start. JBXE’s Kevin Hansen, and Xite Energy’s Oliver Bennett lined up alongside her. When the lights went out it was Hansen who took the lead, using his hyper drive to extend the gap to the cars behind. As all the cars reached the first turn, JBXE lead with Veloce some way back in second. From there, Hansen continued to extend his lead as Chadwick and Bennett fought over second place the entire lap. For the most part Chadwick was able to keep Bennett behind, but an issue with the pit limiter meant Xite Energy took second in the final few corners before the switch. As all the cars came into the switch zone, JBXE held a significant lead with Xite Energy just edging out Veloce.

Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky took over for JBXE and continued to extend the gap to finish a whopping thirty seconds ahead of her closest rival. Behind her, however, Christine GZ and Stephane Sarrazin continued an enthralling battle. They followed closely the entire lap but Sarrazin spotted a gap and went for it, causing a tight squeeze through a narrow gate. He pushed his way through and, despite a late wobble with the pit limiter, managed to take the final spot in the final. Xite Energy’s weekend ended there, with them finishing 6th overall.

Shoot-out:

The race for positions seven to nine was hotly contested between the teams who had issues in Saturday qualifying.

Andretti United lined up on the inside this time with Acciona Sainz sandwiching the two American outfits. As the lights went out, Timmy Hansen for Andretti United took an early lead, but the experienced Carlos Sainz dived down the inside into the first braking zone and took the position. From there he built out a bit of a gap as Hansen and Price went nose to tail. Several times it looked like the Chip Ganassi car might get past Hansen but she was unable to and the teams entered the switch zone with Sainz leading Andretti, who lead Chip Ganassi.

But then came the Kyle Leduc show as he battled to make up the lost positions. He showed much of his qualifying pace and quickly closed in on the two leaders. Waiting for the bumpy section he had been so fast in all weekend, Leduc followed close behind Munnings and then put his foot to the floor. He screamed past Munnings before taking Sanz for a lead he would not lose. Munnings too closed in on Sanz but was ultimately unable to pass her. Chip Ganassi crossed the line first, followed by Acciona Sainz and Andretti United respectively.

Sara Price (USA)/Kyle Leduc (USA), Segi TV Chip Ganassi Racing | Credit: Extreme E

Final:

The last race of the weekend welcomed two new teams to the final. JBXE and Veloce were taking part in their first final, with RXR and X44 both returning following their success at the Desert X Prix.

RXR started on the inside with X44 alongside. JBXE took the outside grid slot with Veloce taking the space next to them. As the lights went out Veloce’s Sarrazin got squeezed by X44 and JBXE and the Frenchman was forced to lift to avoid a collision.

This wasn’t the only close call of the opening lap though, as X44’s Gutierrez made contact with RXR’s Taylor. It appeared that Rosberg and Hamilton were wanting to renew their old rivalry. It would be short lived, however, as X44 were forced to retire due to damage from the collision. JBXE also stopped as the suspension broke going over a bump on the beach. As the remaining two teams reached the switch zone, race director Scott Elkins brought out the red flag.

Drivers swapped and cars repositioned on the starting grid, the final lap was to be a straight shoot-out between RXR and Veloce. The lights went out and Kristofferson immediately dominated bringing the RXR car home winners of the Ocean X Prix. Chawick suffered no issues and finished the race in second place. JBXE rounded out the podium despite not finishing the race, as Mikaela got round slightly more of the lap than X44.

Another strong weekend for Rosberg X Racing saw them top the Ocean X Prix, while Andretti’s qualifying problems saw them languish at the foot of the table. The final weekend standings:

  1. RXR
  2. Veloce
  3. JBXE
  4. X44
  5. Abt Cupra
  6. Xite Energy
  7. Chip Ganassi
  8. Acciona Sainz
  9. Andretti United

RXR’s win saw them extend their lead at the top of the championship to 14 points over X44. Meanwhile a crucial 5 points were awarded to Chip Ganassi, as Kyle Leduc set the fastest time of the weekend through the super sector. The current championship standings:

  1. RXR 71 Points
  2. X44 57 Points  
  3. JBXE 44 Points 
  4. Andretti 37 Points 
  5. Xite 37 Points
  6. Sainz 36 Points 
  7. Abt Cupra 35 Points 
  8. Veloce 31 Points 
  9. Chip Ganassi 30 Points

An incredible weekend of racing saw the middle of the championship fight become closer than ever, whilst bringing issues relating to ocean health to the fore. All eyes now turn to August as Extreme E continues on the glaciers of Greenland. You’d be crazy to miss it.

X44 Top Thrilling Qualifying

image courtesy of ExtremeE -Andrew Ferraro

Reigning Formula One World Champion, Lewis Hamilton’s team, X44 ended an enthralling Qualifying Saturday on top of the time sheets, showing strong pace going into tomorrow’s semi final.

Qualifying 1:

Following little running in the first round, Veloce’s Jamie Chadwick started off qualifying for the second round of the inaugural season of Extreme E. After steady laps from her and her teammate Stephane Sarrazin, the team set a benchmark time of 11:37.599.

Image courtesy of ExtremeE – Sam Bloxham

Acciona Sainz got off to a strong start in their run, but the car unfortunately ground to a halt part way round Laia Sanz’s lap and they were unable to finish. Andretti United’s car also came to a stop but, after a lengthy delay, they were able to get moving again, finishing with a time of 14:39.659.

Image courtesy of ExtremeESam Bloxham

Next was the turn of championship leaders and Desert X Prix race winners Rosberg X Racing. Some of the pace from the last round appeared to be missing though as, despite being on provisional pole, they set a beatable time of 11:02.310.

Abt Cupra followed RXR and their drivers put in a strong performance. Jutta Kleinschmidt, who was standing in for the ill Claudia Hurtgen, was particularly impressive, as the 58 year old rounded off their run to put them top of the table with a 10:58.122. Unfortunately for them though, during the changeover, Jutta entered the switch zone before the car had been put into neutral, and the team promptly received a 15 second time penalty.

Then came Lewis Hamilton’s X44, whose drivers put in a superb perormance which saw them leap to provisional pole with a 10:47.289. American racing team Chip Ganassi also had a strong showing with Leduc putting in a phenomenal performance. They ended Q1 just 4 seconds down on X44, with a time of 10:51.528.

JBXE and Xite Energy then rounded off an intriguing first qualifying session with times of 11:13.405, and 11:52.806 respectively.

The standings after Q1:

  1. X44 10:47.289
  2. Chip Ganassi +4.239
  3. RXR +15.021
  4. Abt Cupra +25.833
  5. JBXE +26.116
  6. Veloce +50.310
  7. Xite Energy +1:05.517
  8. Andretti United +3:52.376
  9. Acciona Sainz DNF

Qualifying 2:

Going into Q2 the teams switched around their starting driver, which meant Stephane Sarrazin kicked off the final qualifying session of the Ocean X Prix for Veloce. The team had a relatively uneventful run and saw them post a combined time of 23:05.370.

Andretti United went into this session attempting to claw back as much of their lost time as possible. Unfortunately for the american outfit, they were unable to do so and were left with a 25:57.068. Their only chance of progressing to the semi finals would come from other teams running into problems.

Rosberg X Racing’s Molly Taylor got some serious air time in her final lap but some excellent car control prevented her from spinning out. They achieved a combined time of 22:12.438, putting them in a temporary pole position. Abt Cupra almost dislodged them straight away but ended up just 8 seconds behind with a 22:20.813.

X44 were the early pace setters in Q1, and another flying run from both of their drivers saw them jump up to the top of the time sheets with a 21:44.856. Close competitors Chip Ganassi got off to a tremendous start in their final qualifying run and were even a few seconds up on X44’s time. But then disaster struck. Just as Leduc entered the tree section, his car ground to a halt. After some desperate button pressing the car got going again, but it would be impossible to claw back the several minutes of time he had lost. Teammate Sara Price brought the car home, finishing with a 25:41.815.

With three teams having issues, remaining teams JBXE and Xite Energy just needed to have uneventful runs and see the cars home. Both teams did exactly that and finished with total times of 22:25.426 and 23:36.461 respectively.

Acciona Sainz rounded off the session after just managing to fix the issues they had had in Q1. With them not setting a time in that session, all they could do in Q2 was attempt to set the fastest time through the super sector. Both drivers pushed hard but ultimately neither were able to claim it from Chip Ganassi’s Kyle Leduc.

The final qualifying positions:

  1. X44 21:44.856
  2. RXR +27.580
  3. Abt Cupra +35.950
  4. JBXE +40.570
  5. Veloce +1:20.510
  6. Xite Energy +1:51.600
  7. Chip Ganassi +3:56.960
  8. Andretti United +4:12.210
  9. Acciona Sainz +1 Lap

Following an exciting Saturday the gap at the top of the team standings has closed slightly with RXR just 4 points ahead of X44. The current standings:

  1. RXR 46 Points
  2. X44 42 Points  
  3. Andretti 33 Points
  4. Sainz 30 Points 
  5. Xite 27 Points
  6. JBXE 26 Points 
  7. Abt Cupra 23 Points 
  8. Chip Ganassi 17 Points  
  9. Veloce 12 Points

All eyes now turn to Sunday where we will see the teams face off to determine the final finishing positions. In Semi Final 1, the first two finishers of X44, RXR, and Abt Cupra will progress to the final, where they will be joined by the top two finishers of Semi Final 2 (which consists of JBXE, Veloce, and Xite Energy). The shoot-out will be contested by Chip Ganassi, Andretti United, and Acciona Sainz as they vie for positions seven to nine.

It’s certain to be an exciting final day as the nine teams battle it out to be crowned rulers of the Ocean X Prix.

Extreme E: Ocean X Prix Preview

After a long wait, the inaugural season of Extreme E resumes with the Ocean X Prix; aiming to highlight issues relating to ocean health.

Lac Rose Circuit

Picture courtesy of Extreme E

Following its successful debut in AlUla, Saudi Arabia, the exciting, new, electric rally series heads to the home of off-road racing, with the teams set to take on sections of the world renowned Dakar Rally. Based around Lac Rose, Dakar, the teams and drivers will race along the Senegalese coastline before turning onto a more technical section in among the sand dunes. Along the way the racers will have to contend with surface changes as well as lots of elevation changes. This is sure to be a true test of the drivers skills.

Format Changes

Coming into this weekend there are a couple of format changes to be aware of. Qualifying will continue to take place over two sessions, with the times being added up to give a team’s final qualifying time. The quickest three teams will then face off in the first of two semi finals, with the top two finishers of that race advancing to the final. The fourth to sixth fastest qualifiers will also race against each other in the second of the two semi finals, but with the top two finishers also now advancing to the final. This means we will now see a four car final, as opposed to the three car final we witnessed in AlUla. The slowest three qualifiers will still compete for positions seventh to ninth in the shoot-out.

The Ocean X Prix also sees the introduction of the super sector. An extra five points is now available to the team whose driver is the quickest through a specific section of the track. This means that everyone still has a chance of gaining points for their respective teams, regardless of where they qualify.

Dakar, Senegal Circuit Map
Picture Courtesy of Extreme E

Championship Battle:

Just nine points separate the top four teams in the championship standings with the title fight beginning to heat up. After a dominant win in AlUla, Rosberg X Racing head the table with thirty five points, closely followed by X44, Andretti United, and Acciona Sainz with thirty, twenty eight, and twenty six points respectively. Veloce foot the table with just four points following a crash in shakedown that saw them miss most of the rest of the weekend.

Driver Line-up Alterations:

2009 Formula One World Champion and JBXE team owner Jenson Button has stepped aside from his racing duties this weekend in order to focus on his team management role. Stepping in to replace him is Kevin Hansen, rally cross driver and brother of Andretti United driver, Timmy Hansen. Kevin is no stranger to Extreme E, helping to develop and test the Odyssey 21 in its early stages of development. He is also a good friend of teammate Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, with the pair having raced together in local rally championships when they were younger.

With a revised format, a title battle on a knife edge, and racing around the famous Dakar Rally, you’d be crazy to miss this weekend’s Extreme E action.

Extreme E’s Saudi Legacy

Last weekend’s Extreme E burst onto the motor racing scene with an enthralling opener in AlUla, Saudi Arabia. But whilst Rosberg X Racing’s Johan Kristoffersson and Molly Taylor were (metaphorically) tearing it up on the track, important environmental work was happening off it. In the build-up to the inaugural round, Extreme E placed heavy focus on to the championship’s desire to leave a positive, lasting impact on the local environment. They claim that not only will each event be completely carbon neutral, but a “legacy program” will also be set up in each location.

For the Saudi Arabia X-Prix, desertification and plastic pollution were the main areas that were focused on, with the legacy program seeing Extreme E support the Ba’a Foundation to help with turtle conservation on the Red Sea coastline. In particular, the program aims to protect the endangered Green turtle, and the critically endangered Hawksbill turtle, both of which are suffering from entanglement, rising sand temperatures, and nest flooding due to rising sea levels. Many of the drivers also took part in a clean up of the Ras Baridi beach.

The drivers have come together to support Extreme E’s causes off the track – Courtesy of Charly Lopez

At the start of each session, the all-electric off-road series broadcast information regarding the issue of desertification, and how it is affecting local communities. Desertification is the process by which fertile land is transformed into a desert, typically brought on by drought, rising temperatures, or improper land management. The effects of this can be catastrophic. As the deserts grow, the amount of land available for farming crops diminishes, which results in the loss of food for the community and increases famine. The amount of available water is also reduced, and Extreme E regularly highlighted this across the weekend.

Throughout its first race weekend, Extreme E also implemented several other measures that ensured it would be the most sustainable sport possible. No single-use plastics were used on site, communal water stations were placed, and food packaging was made from Polymateria (a biodegradable plastic). The batteries themselves were charged using hydrogen fuel cells manufactured by AFC Energy. These are completely emission free and only have water as a byproduct. The water from the fuel cell was collected and either used to clean the cars, or shared between local communities. AFC Energy also signed a memorandum of understanding with Altaaqa, operator of a large mobile diesel generator rental fleet, meaning both companies share a common goal of transitioning the region away from fossil fuel dependence, and towards zero emission energy. This, however, is not legally binding.

On the whole, it appears that Extreme E’s inaugural event was a big success both on and off the track. It is already clear that the series doing many things to ensure the only trace they leave is a positive legacy.

Extreme E: Alejandro Agag praises spectacular inaugural Desert X Prix but suggests changes will be made to the series

Alejandro Agag had nothing but praise for the way the first race of Extreme E’s history panned out, but is not afraid to look at ways in which to modify the format going forward.

The inaugural Desert X Prix was won by Team RosbergXRacing and their drivers Johan Kristoffersson and Molly Taylor following an incredible cut-back manoeuvre on X44’s Sebastien Loeb which inevitably decided the race. This in part was due to the large amount of sand dispersed by the SUV’s on track which made visibility incredibly difficult for the following cars.

In the end, most of the races were decided by turn two and saw a consistent gap of 30 seconds between the drivers leaving something to be desired by fans who were expecting more dramatic and closer racing. In fact, some fans took to social media voicing their concerns about the format and the consequences for broadcasters when racing on sandy and snowy terrains.

Cristina Gutierrez (ESP)/Sebastien Loeb (FRA), X44, Courtesy of Charly Lopez

Prior to the weekend changes were made to the format, opting for a time trial qualifying session rather than a race. This was in response to reliability concerns after Chip Ganassi suffered an almost fatal accident in the first shakedown session. The series were worried that not enough cars would survive the weekend and in hindsight, this was the appropriate move. It is therefore within reason to suspect the series organisers will evaluate the first race and make improvements for the weekend in Senegal.

On potential changes to the series, Alejandro was open to the idea: “Yes. I am thinking of tweaks. I have two tweaks in my mind,” said Alejandro during the post-race press conference.

“I love the shootout. I am thinking that maybe that I do a draw, a lottery for who races. So we mix female and male drivers in all the races. Because otherwise, we are seeing that the teams are lining up all the men at one point and the woman second.”

All but Hispano Suiza XE used their male drivers first during the time trials on Saturday. But if there’s anything we’ve learned from this weekend is that the calibre of female talent is more of a match for any man out there. Stars such as Molly Talor, Catie Munnings, Christina Gutierrez and Laia Sanz proved more of a match for their male counterparts and really put themselves firmly on the map for motorsport fans worldwide.

“I think what we’ve seen today from the female drivers have been extraordinary,” Alejandro added.

There’s incredible talent and also incredible courage to see Catie with that tyre, fighting with the car and bringing the car to the finish line. How well Molly did on the race today. We have incredible talent here, and I am really happy that we have a platform. And believe me today, many millions I’m sure many millions are watching.”

|Photographer: Jordi Rierola|Event: Preseason Testing|Circuit: MotorLand Aragon|Location: Alcaniz|Series: Extreme E|Country: Spain|Season: 2020|Keyword: 2020|Team: Andretti United Extreme E|Car: Spark ODYSSEY 21|Driver: Catie Munnings|

On potential alterations to the Senegal Beach X Prix, Alejandro Agag will personally oversee an evaluation in the interim period: “We will go to Senegal and we will check the dust level there.”

“We’re going to check with SUVs and see what the level of dust is, and then we’ll take some decisions. I want to listen again, as many people in our ecosystem as I can like I did yesterday.”

As with the birth of any motorsport series there are always going to be changes made along the way. This is an ambitious and unprecedented task and any decision in terms of format will be largely a leap of faith, in part due to the lack of testing they are able to do. There is still enormous potential and growth to come from Extreme E.

What we have witnessed this weekend is a dream actualised. Alejandro Agag has been able to achieve a proof-of-concept and show the world that a sustainable, electric SUV rally series is possible. Alejandro is open to suggestions and improvements and that can only be a positive for a championship in its infancy.

I personally cannot wait for the next race in Senegal on the 29th-30th May!

Alejandro Agag: “This is the biggest experiment in motorsport”.

When the new FIA Extreme E (XE) World Championship begins in the desert sands of the Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia this weekend, it won’t just be simply the start of another racing series but a revolutionary concept whose on-track glammer is matched only by its lofty off-track ambitions.

Cast your minds back to January 2019, during the official announcement on the cold, rainy and wintery deck of RMS St. Helena. The motorsport world gathered in anticipation for what was to come. A new championship.

Alejandro Agag, CEO of both Formula E and Extreme E unveiled his dream, an off-road electric SUV racing series that would travel the world to draw attention to climate change through environmentally friendly racing.

The series will take place in five remote locations affected by climate change, where all the equipment and cars are transported by a ‘floating paddock’ cargo ship, which will also serve as a laboratory for scientists to conduct research and enact conservation projects.

The St Helena logistics ship. Courtesy of Colin McMaster.

Each team features a male and female driver who must take turns throughout each race, and competitors can earn a boost by performing big jumps and winning online fan votes.

Throw in a strong driver line-up including F1 champion Jenson Button , multiple-time WRC champion Sebastien Loeb and W Series champion Jamie Chadwick.

Sounds good doesn’t it?

Courtesy of Extreme E

Something that fascinates me is the incredible mixture of young and established names in motorsport with the likes of Carlos Sainz Snr, Andretti Autosport and Chip Ganassi involved in the series in some way. These personalities and brands are essential to providing Extreme E with a credibility amongst hardcore motorsport fans.

One the other hand you have Veloce Racing, a tech firm and esports squad taking its first step into real-world motorsport. Younger audiences will be familiar with their esports exploits but will inevitably follow with intrigue their transition into the physical world.

It carries the same energy as when ‘new money’ from the Industrial Revolution joined the ranks of the traditional aristocratic and landed gentry of Britain in the 18th century. We are seeing a blurring of the lines of what a traditional race team can look like.

Whether you are a racing ‘super-fan’, an environmentalist or a travel connoisseur, Extreme E has something for everyone.

Alejandro Agag, CEO, Extreme E, with all the drivers lined up in the background. Courtesy of Steven Tee.

But do not just take it from me, take it from the man who set up the whole series. During the official press conference Alejandro Agag spoke about his thoughts on the season opener:

“It would have been impossible to organise this race without our hosts and the teams” said Alejandro on the Friday morning before the opening qualifying session. “it’s an incredibly happy day for me. Many people did not think this was going to happen, that is true, this is quite out of the box.”

“This is the biggest experiment in motorsport”.

On the future of Extreme E Alejandro was keen to highlight that set it apart from the Formula E championship: “They are very different. Which one will be bigger? Who knows? They can both become very big, of course, I am keen on both.”

“In terms of manufacturers in season one (Formula E) we had Mahindra, Audi had support with Abt, Renault had support with DAMS. However, already here we have two in season one. We have Cupra, Hummer and Lotus which may become a full partner in the future.”

Importantly, as we have seen with Formula E manufacturers tend to come and go. This has left Alejandro with a philosophy which favours independent teams over manufacturers. With a strong independent line-up including teams owned by Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Veloce, Nico Rosberg, Carlos Sainz Snr and many others, there is certainly a freshness and originality to this grid.

“There are very significant manufacturers who are interested in Extreme E. But you have to build championships independently of manufacturers because when they go, they go. […] Manufacturers are not necessary.”

On which team are the favourites going into the inaugural season, Alejandro was coy, suggesting a competitive title battle:

“Ganassi was looking strong, even though they had a technical problem this morning. But outside of them it looks really open. If I had nine dollars I would put one dollar on each of the other nine teams.”

There have been some minor last-minute alterations to the format in response to reliability. A qualifying race will now be replaced by a series of time trials on Saturday that will form the grid for the semi-final, crazy race and final showdown on Sunday.

On reliability, Alejandro played down his concerns:  “I’m not too concerned. “

“(During testing) 18 out of 20 cars broke down. Here this morning two out of nine broke. I hope no car breaks tomorrow but that’s part of racing. I have to say if seven out of nine cars broke this morning I would be concerned.”

International Women’s Day 2021 – Extreme E: An Introduction to the Women

Equality in motorsport is something that every racing series is striving towards, especially on a day like International Women’s Day. From grassroots programmes like Dare to Be Different by Suzie Wolff to an entire Formula 1 support series for women, introducing women to a male-dominated sport is something that is making the headlines left, right and centre. 

Extreme E is a sport that is promoting equality from the outset by having one male and one female driver in each team. The entire aim of the series is to have the best combination of people working on the car and behind the wheel and not having their gender dictate their opportunities.

Each driver will be behind the wheel of a Spark ODYSSEY 21 which is an electric SUV with a power output of 400kW, about 1.5 times more powerful than a World Rally car. 

Claudia Huertgen

Credit: Extreme E | Photographer: Charly Lopez

Claudia Huertgen is most well known for being successful in touring cars and winning the ADAC Total 24 Hours of Nurburgring in the SP10 class, driving a BMW M4 GT4. She has also taken part in the ADAC GT Masters trophy. At 41, she is one of the older drivers in the field but her expertise will help her as she battles through the field for the Abt Cupra XE team.

Laia Sanz

Competing for the Spanish Acconia Sainz XE Team, Laia Sanz is a thirteen-time women’s time trial world champion in outdoor motorcycle trials but has recently taken part in the Dakar Rally finishing at a high of fifteenth place in 2016. She has also taken part in the 24H of Barcelona, winning her class in 2011. Her off-road experience only brings more knowledge to the team as she will race alongside the team owner and rally legend Carlos Sainz.

Catie Munnings

Catie Munnings is a British rally driver and former TV presenter. She has taken part in the European Rally Championship and contested both the Under 27 and Ladies categories. Previously, she presented a children’s television show showcasing fast and large vehicles and explaining their use in life. As a Red Bull sponsored athlete, she has been able to use this backing to encourage women to take part in rallying and she also plays a role, alongside Suzie Wolff, in the Dare To Be Different campaign.

Sara Price

Credit: Extreme E | Photographer: Charly Lopez

Hailing from Riverside, California, Sara Price began racing at age eight and now has medalled at the X Games multiple times in the motocross categories. Previously, she has completed in the Stadium Super Trucks series which races in America and Australia, with a highest finish if fourth. She is the first female driver racing for Chip Ganassi Racing in their history and we hope that she isn’t the last.

“When I put a helmet on you know I often get this question, ‘how is it being a female in a male dominated sport?’, and I say, ‘I’m not a female I’m not a male, I’m just a racer.’ “What Extreme E is doing right now is pretty incredible. It is going to be able to provide girls who have incredible talent that’s never been seen before, a chance to showcase it – that itself is huge for women as well as for motorsport.”

Christine Giampaoli Zona

Christine Giampaoli Zonca was a member of the first all-female rally team to take part in a WRC event and does more than just drive a car. She has a Bachelor’s degree in motorsport engineering technology from the University of Birmingham and regularly prepares her own car for events in which she takes part in. Her future plans include racing in the 2022 Dakar Rally along with Hispano-Suzia Xite Energy Team in Extreme E.

Molly Taylor

Molly Taylor is an Australian Rally driver who won the Australian Rally Championship in 2016, both the youngest and only female to do so, and finished as runner up in the following year. Along with this, she was the first female accepted into the Australian Motor Sports Foundation and is the only non-Brit to win the British Ladies Rally Championship, doing so in both 2009 and 2010. She is no stranger to competing in off-road situations and her knowledge bodes well for Rosberg Xtreme Racing.

“One of the great things about motorsport is that when you put the helmet on it doesn’t matter what gender you are and that’s always been my philosophy. But what I have noticed through competing, is the number of young girls that when they see a female competing, they then want to be involved – so I think having that exposure at the highest level is really important to help improve the diversity and equality for the next generations coming up. If [Extreme E] can help change the amount of girls that are involved in racing at grassroots level and therefore what the future of our sport looks like, I think it’s really important for that reason.”

Jamie Chadwick

Credit: Extreme E | Photographer: Charly Lopez

Jamie Chadwick is arguably the most well-known female driver taking part in Extreme E so far, having won the inaugural W Series championship, being a member of the Williams Driver Academy and racing with Prema Powerteam in the 2020 Formula Regional European Championship, to name a few things. Coming from an original background in GT racing, she understands the skill needed to drive a powerful car and working with the Veloce team and is an exciting addition to the series.

“Extreme E is definitely a leap into the unknown for me, having only previously driven single-seaters and sportscars, but I’ve never shied away from a challenge. The first time I tested the car, I knew I wanted to race it – an electric SUV is a large vehicle, yet the stunning power it produces when you put your foot down makes it exhilarating to drive. The fact that Extreme E is also committed to gender equality is just the icing on the cake. Winning the W Series was fantastic – and huge for my career – but I want to prove that I can beat everybody at this kind of level, which means men and women alike. The prospect of going up against the likes of Jenson Button and Sébastien Loeb – I mean, these guys were heroes to me when I was growing up – is incredible. If you want to succeed in sport, as in life, you must be prepared to really push yourself. That is exactly what I am doing in Extreme E and I cannot wait to get started!”

Cristina Gutierrez

Cristina Gutierrez was the first-ever Spanish woman to finish the Dakar Rally in a car and in 2021 became the second woman to win a Dakar stage. Her expertise stems from competing in the Dakar rally and the Spanish Women’s Off-Road Champion since 2012. Racing for Team X44 is a great addition to her career thus far.

The first X Prix takes place in Saudi Arabia on the third and fourth of April and all of these women will be able to show their skill set on a level playing field with the men in the series.