Images via Extreme E
Extreme E’s first ever race is fast approaching, and it all starts with an epic opening weekend of action in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla. The Desert X Prix kicks off on April 3 with the qualification rounds, with the final playing out the following day. And as Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal stated, the Kingdom is excited to rise to the challenge of hosting the radical new racing series. The Chairman of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation also said Saudi is proud to launch it in the “unrivalled yet testing beauty of our vast desert landscape.”
With 10 teams ready to compete in Saudi, fielding a legendary line-up of champion drivers, the thrilling event sees the onset of electric SUVs competing in extreme environments around the world. The five different spots have already been damaged or affected by climate and environmental issues. Alejandro Agag, Founder and CEO of Extreme E, described AlUla as a “spectacular place” to initiate his brainchild.
“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,” Agag said.
Naturally, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Sports, Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, also expressed excitement about the adventure kicking off in the grand surroundings of AlUla. “Saudi Arabia is a country where motorsports is beyond a passion for millions of people. 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,” he said. “ We have been honoured 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.”
The royal added the Crown Prince of the Kingdom’s steadfast backing has made it possible to still host major sporting events during COVID-19, which has presented challenges. Prince Abdulaziz also said Saudi continues gunning for its ambitious Saudi Vision 2030 quality of life programme. This year has already been a huge one for motorsport in Saudi Arabia, with the second Dakar Saudi held in January and the third Formula E race weekend in February.
Who will be at the Desert X Prix?
The 10 teams who have signed up for Season 1 bring together champions from a variety of motorsport disciplines spanning single-seaters to rallying, rallycross, Dakar and sportscar racing. The teams include 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. While Jenson Button is set to drive for his JBXE team, Johan Kristoffersson and Molly Taylor will be on the Rosberg X Racing team and Sébastien Loeb and Cristina Gutiérrez will be representing the X44 one.
ABT CUPRA XE (Mattias Ekström and Claudia Hürtgen), ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team (Carlos Sainz and Laia Sanz), Andretti United (Timmy Hansen and Catie Munnings) and Chip Ganassi Racing (Kyle LeDuc and Sara Price) will be joining those teams. Hispano Suiza Xite Energy Team (Oliver Bennett and Christine Giampaoli), Veloce Racing (Stéphane Sarrazin and Jamie Chadwick) and Team TECHEETAH will also be joining in the action.
About Extreme E
Extreme E, a five-race global voyage, highlights the impact of climate change and human interference in some of the world’s most remote locations and promotes the adoption of electric vehicles in the quest for a lower carbon future for the planet.
Spacesuit Media Charly Lopez
While Extreme E will bring short, sharp wheel-to-wheel racing to a global audience via 40 international broadcasters, its wider purpose is to highlight the climate emergency affecting everybody worldwide. Through motorsport, the series will showcase electric SUVs racing in some of the most remote corners of the planet that have all been damaged by climate change.
Each destination has been chosen with a different environmental issue in mind. The Desert X Prix in Saudi Arabia will highlight desertification and the Ocean X Prix in Senegal will shine a light on rising sea levels, while the Arctic X Prix in Greenland does that for melting ice caps. Additionally, the Amazon X Prix in Brazil will underscore the effects of deforestation and the Glacier X Prix in Patagonia will focus on glacial recession.
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 Programmes, which include planting one million mangroves in Senegal and reforesting 100 hectares of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. The Legacy Programme plans for Saudi Arabia will be revealed in the days leading up to the first race.
To minimise impact, Extreme E X Prix races are not open to fans to attend in person. The qualification rounds will be shown live on the Extreme E website and the finals will be broadcast live on MBC in the Middle East.