Extreme E: A Preview of Motorsport’s All-New Electrifying Series

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The first-ever Extreme E event takes place this weekend with the Desert X-Prix in Aulua, Saudi Arabia. © Extreme E

A new era of racing begins as the newly-formed ‘Extreme E’ series takes to the deserts of Saudi Arabia in search of environmental awareness and first-class racing.

What is ‘Extreme E’?

Extreme E is a five-race global expedition across four continents.

Each location will highlight the impact climate change and human life has had on remote locations. Alongside this, the series will also promote the adoption of electric vehicles to protect the planet.

 

All five terrains have been devastated by various environmental challenges. Extreme E will showcase that the damage done to the world is not limited to a single climate.

The circuits are sure to test the drivers’ skills to the max, ranging from tropical rainforests to baron deserts.

The man behind the concept is Spanish businessman, Alejandro Agag who also founded Formula E, the all-electric single-seater series.

He has also previously worked with Formula 1 drivers such as Romain Grosjean.

What cars will they drive?

The Odyssey 21 was first revealed in July 2019 at the Goodwood Festival after an intense design and development programme.

These electric chargers are built to meet all the demands of this unique series being suited to all-terrain, boasting huge power and massive torque.

They are more capable than anything in its class.

Alejandro, alongside Gil de Ferran, was on hand at the Spark’s Racing Technology factory to unleash his ‘beast’.

Despite looking like a futuristic dune buggy, this thing will fly.

It is capable of going from 0-60mph in just 4.5 seconds with a top speed of 120mph.

Powered by 550 horsepower, this 1650 kilogram, 2.3 metre wide E-SUV is bespoke from the ground up.

The Odyssey will have no problem taking on mother earth either with its ability to tackle gradients up to 130%.

The ties to Formula 1 are clear, too.

McLaren will provide the drivetrains, while Williams will be responsible for the production of the electric batteries. Furthermore, Continental Tyres will supply tread for both extreme winter and extreme summer conditions.

To provide a bit of race practice for the machine, the Odyssey was entered into the renowned Dakar Rally 2020.

In the hands of legendary rally driver Ken Block, The E-SUV stormed to third place on the rally-raid route against hundreds of competitors in comparable ICE and hybrid vehicles.

What are they like to drive?

Each team will have their own slick livery but very minimal tweaking can be done to the car itself.

Of course, as an electric SUV it will be much quieter than its petrol counterparts but with tremendous amounts of torque, expect acceleration to be a plus point.

Extreme E Sky Sports presenter, David Garrido, has said that drivers are so far praising the Odessey 21’s drivability. However, Garrido also believes that braking may be an issue simply due to the car’s weight.

Who’s at the wheel?

As well as being a milestone for E racing, the series will also be the world’s first gender-equal motorsport series.

Extreme E will feature 18 of the best drivers from all different backgrounds within motorsport.

Rally icon Sebastian Loeb will drive for the X44 team – led by current F1 champion Lewis Hamilton.

 

Also there will be former F1 champion Jenson Button driving for his own team and current W Series champion Jamie Chadwick.

While it is too early to highlight any favourites due to the unique nature of the competition, we are sure to get wheel-to-wheel action throughout.

It will also be fascinating to see how drivers who dominated in their own categories do when competing against each other in these challenging terrains.

What’s the race format?

Each weekend will consist of two days of racing on Saturday and Sunday.

There will be four races held on Saturday with two races in Qualifying Round 1 and Qualifying Round 2 respectively with each team racing twice.

Starting positions for Round 1 will be based on a lottery draw with points being awarded to the top four positions.

Then, the top four points scoring teams from Saturday’s races will then qualify for Semi-Final 1. The remaining five teams will participate in Semi-Final 2.

Sunday will follow this with a further three races.

Starting grids will be determined on points order from Saturday’s races with the top three teams from Semi-Final 1 and the first and second-placed teams from Semi-Final 2 – the Crazy Race – going into the Final.

 

Extreme E has also taken a page out of Formula E’s book. The series will use fan engagement via their GridPlay voting system to determine the starting positions in the Final.

Points will then be given to every team depending on their finishing position from first to tenth.

Unlike F1, each race consists of wheel-to-wheel action rather than the time trial format.  meaning there won’t be a dull moment.

Strategy will also be a crucial role with each team deciding confidentially who will drive the opening lap before the ‘Switch’ for lap two.

Teams will have to utilise their drivers’ strengths. Additionally, we are also guaranteed to see contests between male and female drivers.

A ‘Hyperdrive’ boost will also be available to each driver on each lap giving them an increase in power for a fixed amount of time.

So, where can I watch it?

All sessions of all race weekends will be broadcast live on Sky Sports Action and/or Sky Sports Mix. The first of these kicks off with the first qualifying session from Saudi Arabia at 7am BST on Saturday, April 3.

It will certainly be worth the early start in the inaugural weekend of this new and exciting series.

 

 

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