Extreme E, the innovative new electric off-road series, has completed its first group test at MotorLand Aragón, Spain, with many of the world’s biggest names in rally and off-road racing joining together.
The impressive line-up, which included rally legends Sébastien Loeb and Carlos Sainz, World Rallycross champions Johan Kristoffersson, Timmy Hansen, and Mattias Ekström, Dakar Rally hotshots Cristina Gutiérrez and Laia Sanz, W Series Champion Jamie Chadwick, and Australian Rally Champion Molly Taylor, among more, marked an all-star meet up as the Extreme E teams got their first joint display.
It was also the first chance the drivers had to feel the full potential of the championship’s 400kW (550bhp) ODYSSEY 21 electric SUV as the first X Prix in Saudi Arabia, March 2021, draws ever closer.
— X44 (@TeamX44) December 19, 2020
— Extreme E (@ExtremeELive) December 19, 2020
Alejandro Agag, Founder and CEO of Extreme E, said: “We’ve been working towards this day for over two years. The dream is finally becoming a reality and it’s certainly been a proud moment to see such a talented group of drivers all together. This championship has one of the strongest line-ups of drivers anywhere on the planet.”
“Testing has been a huge success and a great way to end out what has been a challenging year in so many ways. 2021 is set to be the year where the world can see the realization of all our hard work and I cannot wait to show-off one of the most innovative motorsport formats the world has ever seen.”
The teams completed two days of testing across two off-road circuit layouts; a 3.1km open course and a faster 1km circuit, getting to prove their abilities despite having to contend with foggy conditions and low visibility at times.
Scot Elkins, Race Director at Extreme E, said: “We battled the weather a little bit as we had strange conditions with the fog, but overall it’s been really really good. The cars have been really reliable and it’s exciting to see them running at full power and seeing the drivers all getting a chance to try out the new machinery. We’ve achieved exactly what we wanted to.
“We have used two courses during the test, the first was much longer and much more open, it’s actually more suited to what we’ll see on the real events in terms of having the course laid out by markers and typical designations, whereas the other course was more of a closed course; it’s a single material so it’s just dirt as opposed to the other, which has some different materials to deal with on the races. The test has given everybody a good opportunity to see the different environments that we’re going to be racing in next year.”
The ODYSSEY 21 will be pushed to its limits on some of the toughest terrains during the 2021 race season, including the desert, the Arctic, and the Amazon, and Extreme E’s Founding Partner, Continental Tires, has worked hard to create a tire to meet this multitude of demands.
The test was an important opportunity to showcase a new innovation that will be part of the series – ContiConnect – a digital tire monitoring system meaning greater safety for car and driver. The system collects, measures and analyses data such as tire pressure and temperature in real time, transmitting that information to the driver on a display in the cockpit.
Founding Supplier CBMM, the world’s leading supplier of niobium products and technology, has also been integral in developing the ODYSSEY 21, which utilizes niobium, making it lighter, stronger, more robust and more reliable. This is all while being more sustainable than other materials, as the increased lightness breeds energy savings and improved performance, and the added strength and durability afforded by niobium technology will assist the Extreme E chassis in dealing with the toughest challenges thrown its way.
F1 driver Carlos Sainz Jr, an investor in the ACCIONA | Sainz XE team, also joined the test to get his first taste of the electric vehicle his team will be competing in.
Carlos Sainz Jr said: “I kind of expected my father to want to be involved in Extreme E and I saw him taking an interest, so we’ve been very busy the last three to four months with the project. It’s a whole new challenge and I see that they are working very hard to make the team as competitive as possible. The climate message behind Extreme E is really important as we need to make people more conscious of what’s going on in the world, while still producing a show and good racing.”
Following the test, cars will go back to the respective teams’ workshops for final adjustments before being loaded onto the championship’s floating centerpiece, St. Helena, which will depart in mid-February for its voyage around the world. Extreme E’s five-event calendar starts in Saudi Arabia in March followed by Senegal in May, Greenland in August, Brazil in October and Patagonia in December.
Sébastien Loeb, X44: “The car is different to what I’m used to driving, so I was very happy to discover how powerful it is and with good traction and balance too – I’ve really enjoyed testing it out! It’s been great to work alongside the whole team while we get to know the vehicle and especially to drive alongside Cristina. She’s naturally a very skilled driver, as well as a hard worker, and I’m looking forward to having her as my partner in this new adventure. This weekend has also been a good opportunity for me to find out more detail about the series itself and the places we will be visiting. It’s a totally new concept so who knows how it will be, but I’m excited to start the season and begin competing against the other teams.”
Cristina Gutiérrez, X44: “Testing has been brilliant and I’ve loved adapting to the new car and figuring out how it works. Each hour I’ve been here has been better than the one before and I’ve been able to learn so much already from Sébastien and the team. He’s an incredible person to have as a co-driver and has been giving me lots of advice – I’ve been trying to be like a sponge so I can soak it all up! It’s a dream to be able to learn from one of the best drivers in the world. I can’t wait for next year and to be able to start racing. Being surrounded by such a professional and expert team has really inspired me and I’m even more excited than I was before.”
Molly Taylor, Rosberg Xtreme Racing: “It’s been a fantastic two days with the team and driving the RXR ODYSSEY 21 in Spain. It’s mine and Johan’s first time driving the car at full power and to drive it across two very different track layouts has been very useful and a lot of fun. We seem to be learning a thousand things every kilometer which is super useful at this point in our development program. The car is mega – really fun to drive – and I can’t wait to get it sideways at all the amazing locations we’ll be visiting in 2021.”
Johan Kristoffersson, Rosberg Xtreme Racing: “It’s been a great test for RXR. We came into the test excited to drive the RXR ODYSSEY 21 at full power for the first time and it didn’t disappoint! Everyone in the team has been focused on adapting and learning as quickly as possible which is important with very few chances to test the car between now and the start of the season. We’ve gathered a lot of data over the two days and me and Molly have a good understanding between each other and with the car. It’s been a lot of fun and I already can’t wait to go racing in Season 1 next year.”
Claudia Hürtgen, ABT CUPRA XE: “It was great to meet the entire Extreme E family for the first time. The atmosphere and mood in the paddock are unique: Everyone is very relaxed but excited at the same time about starting this new adventure. We had a lot of time to get to know the car even better. It‘s perfect to have such an experienced partner at my side in Mattias. He shares all his tricks and experience with me, which of course helps enormously.”
Mattias Ekstrom, ABT CUPRA XE: “That has been two days of pure fun. It was great to take out our beast on full power for the first time and also to get a first impression of the competition which is pretty strong. Although times are not that important during a test it was good to see that we seem to be quite competitive. Sharing the race car is a new thing for me but working with Claudia is super easy so I enjoyed it a lot. Can’t wait for spring now to try the unique format of Extreme E under real race conditions.”
Carlos Sainz, ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team: “It was really interesting to get a first glimpse of Extreme E in this collective test. The car is unique and different to the rest in terms of power, suspensions, energy management… We worked on those and many more things, and I am already looking forward to the competition.”
Laia Sanz, ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team: “Everything was new for me, but it was great fun adjusting myself to the Extreme E car. My previous experience in off-road racing will definitely come in handy and I have also a great teammate to make sure we are up there when the season begins.”
Albert Fabrega, ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team Principal: “Getting up to speed as a team was our main priority for this winter test, which has been a learning curve for all of us. We are satisfied with the lessons we have learnt in Alcaniz and now we can continue our preparation for the season with even more confidence.”
Catie Munnings, Andretti United Extreme E: “It’s been awesome to finally have a full test with the team, it feels like it’s all coming together now and having the car at full power was super useful, not just for the drivers, but also the engineers to understand all the different mappings, which has been really important as this is very different to the world of combustion engines. We had some close contact racing which has been great to see, and it’s cool to see the cars side by side, as so far we’ve only seen one at a time. It’s starting to bring everything together and I’ve enjoyed meeting the Extreme E family and the people that we are going to be travelling to these amazing locations with. I’m just really excited now to start the season.”
Timmy Hansen, Andretti United Extreme E: “It’s been two great days, but preparing for a season in two days is a hard job. We’ve been incredibly busy from early morning to late at night but I think we’ve definitely gotten the most that we could out of these two days. We couldn’t be better prepared, but there are still so many big unknowns, so it will be exciting to go there and see who can tackle the sand in the dunes and the different environments, as well as the whole race, who’s got the best car, who’s got the best drivers. I’m very excited!”
Kyle LeDuc, Chip Ganassi Racing: “The test this weekend was good! We started with a longer track, which had a really rocky terrain. Both Sara [Price] and I did our sections. We learned a lot and made a lot of changes to the car, as did every other team. We then switched to a short course, which was like a tighter rallycross track. We were able to experience multiple locations and make all the changes we could. It was a strong test with no major issues. I’m looking forward to taking this electric beast into the competition in March.”
Sara Price, Chip Ganassi Racing: “We just got done with our first full field test with our Extreme E Odyssey 21. We tested on two courses this weekend. We were able to experience a lot of drifting around the corners. During the first lap I was getting a feel for the car. This is the first time with 100% power and driving an electric SUV is a bit different; you really have to be smooth. Finding traction was tough, so the more aggressive we got, the better it felt. Overall, the full field test was successful and I think we have what it takes to win.”
Dave Berk, Team Principle, Chip Ganassi Racing: “I think the test has gone really well and I think everybody – all the teams, the organizing series – have been challenged with the environment, particularly the fog. All the teams were chomping at the bit to get to full power, so this opportunity has been great, teams are laying down hot laps and comparing themselves to others. It’s been good and we’re happy with our driver choices and very much looking forward to the first race in Saudi Arabia.”
Oliver Bennett, Hispano Suiza Xite Energy Team: “Great couple of days settling into the new HSXE car with team mate Christine! We focused mainly on trying to get comfortable in the car and learn from each other the feedback of how the car felt. The car is so alive and ‘electric’ to drive with instant torque out the corners it feels plenty fast enough and capable of some rough terrain we will experience!”
Christine Giampaoli, Hispano Suiza Xite Energy Team: “These two days have been great fun! Finally, I had the opportunity to drive “the Beast” and I’m really looking forward to racing next year! So grateful for the awesome job the whole team of HSXE has done to keep the car perfect and all the support given.”
Jamie Chadwick, Veloce Racing: “It’s been a great couple of days being able to drive the Extreme E car at full power for the first time. Unfortunately, the fog meant we didn’t get as many laps as we would have liked but either way I’m always smiling when I drive this car. Lots to take in and be able to work on going into the season start next year.”
— Veloce Racing (@VeloceRacingXE) December 19, 2020