DUBAI: Extreme E’s first ever race is just one month away, and with 10 teams ready to compete, fielding a legendary line-up of champion drivers, the series is gearing up for an epic opening weekend of action when it all kicks off in AlUla, Saudi Arabia, on April 3-4.
Extreme E is a new racing series, which will see electric SUVs competing in extreme environments around the world which have already been damaged or affected by climate and environmental issues.
“We are a motorsports obsessed nation, with a long and proud history of hosting some of the world’s most famous rallies, and of our own drivers participating internationally,” said Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Sports Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal.
“We have been honored by Extreme E choosing the dramatic natural landscape of AlUla to host its maiden race in April and we can’t wait to offer all of our support to ensure it goes down in history as an unforgettable new chapter for motor-racing.”
There are 10 teams signed up for Season 1 including three owned by current and former Formula One World Champions, with Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Jenson Button founding X44, Rosberg X Racing and JBXE respectively.
Joining those teams will be ABT CUPRA XE, ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team, Andretti United, Chip Ganassi Racing, Hispano Suiza Xite Energy Team, Team TECHEETAH and Veloce Racing.
The teams and cars are now making their way to Saudi.
“The St. Helena ship is on her way to Saudi Arabia, and it all feels very real.” Alejandro Agag, Founder and CEO of Extreme E, said.
“This momentous moment is the culmination of years of hard work and planning, and I know AlUla will capture our audience when they get to see this incredible place, such a special setting for our first race.”
The Extreme E driver line-up brings together champions from a variety of motorsport disciplines spanning single-seaters to rallying, rallycross, Dakar and sportscar racing: Mattias Ekström and Claudia Hürtgen (ABT CUPRA XE); Carlos Sainz and Laia Sanz (ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team); Timmy Hansen and Catie Munnings (Andretti United); Kyle LeDuc and Sara Price (Chip Ganassi Racing); Oliver Bennett and Christine Giampaoli (Hispano Suiza Xite Energy Team); Jenson Button (JBXE); Johan Kristoffersson and Molly Taylor (Rosberg X Racing); Stéphane Sarrazin and Jamie Chadwick (Veloce Racing); and Sébastien Loeb and Cristina Gutiérrez (X44).
“We’re only three months in, but 2021 has already been a monumental year for motorsport in Saudi Arabia, with our second Dakar Saudi held in January and our third Formula E race weekend in February,” Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal, chairman of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF), said.
“Next, we combine what makes those two events so special – the unrivalled yet testing beauty of our vast desert landscape, and clean energy racing – in hosting Extreme E’s first ever event.”
Not only will Extreme E bring wheel-to-wheel racing to a global audience through its more than 40 international broadcasters, it has a wider purpose – to highlight the climate emergency affecting everybody worldwide.
Each destination has been chosen with a different environmental issue in mind: the Desert X Prix in Saudi Arabia will highlight desertification, the Ocean X Prix in Senegal rising sea levels, the Arctic X Prix in Greenland the melting ice cap, the Amazon X Prix in Brazil deforestation and the Glacier X Prix in Patagonia glacial recession.
The goals of Saudi Vision 2030 have driven considerable investment by the Kingdom into hosting some of the world’s biggest sporting events.
The aim is to introduce millions of Saudis to sport and promote wider sporting activity nationwide to ensure a healthier, more active population.
Phillip Jones, Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) Destination Management and Marketing Officer, is looking forward to offering AlUla’s desert landscape for the inaugural Extreme E X Prix.
“As a newly developing tourism destination, AlUla is uniquely positioned to get the foundations right from the outset,” he said.
“There are many initiatives underway in alignment with our 12 key strategic principles to develop a responsible tourism destination that focuses on safeguarding the natural and cultural landscape, sustaining eco-systems and wildlife and light-touch tourism experiences.
Members of Extreme E’s Scientific Committee have been working with the championship over the last two years to ensure the series leaves a long-lasting positive impact in each location through Legacy Programs, which include planting one million mangroves in Senegal and reforesting 100 hectares of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil.
The Legacy Program plans for Saudi Arabia will be revealed in the days leading up to the first race.
The Desert X Prix, AlUla, kicks off on Saturday, April 3 with the qualification rounds, and the final plays out on Sunday, April 4. Extreme E X Prix races are not open to fans to attend in person, but qualifications will be shown live on the Extreme E website, with the Finals broadcast live on MBC in the Middle East.