XITE Energy Racing powered by myenergi announced today that 2009 Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button will join Oli Bennett (both shown above) in the British-based squad for this year’s Nitro Rallycross series.
Jenson and Oli will drive a pair of XITE Energy-liveried, all-electric FC1-X race cars in a global series which is redefining the sport of rallycross.
“I want to go racing,” said Jenson, 42. “I love racing, I love competing and I want to have fun. I’m looking forward to racing Nitro RX with XITE Energy – a team which has great experience of not just rallycross but also racing Electric Vehicles.
“And I get to race alongside my mate Oli. He’s a great character, great for the sport and comes with a lot of experience of competing on the dirt. Hopefully I can learn that side from him and he can learn from my circuit driving. It’s going to be a fun partnership, but I think it’s going to be a good partnership as well and hopefully we can take it to the big boys in rallycross.”
Jenson and Oli completed initial testing aboard XITE Energy’s Mini RX Supercar and a Fiesta Supercar at Pembrey, Wales, earlier in April.
But it’s Nitro RX and the FC1-X which the Frome driver’s most looking forward to.
“It looks awesome,” said Jenson. “There’s so much action. There are some fantastic drivers driving some absolute beasts. The car I’ll be racing is the FC1-X. It’s a 1000 horsepower, four-wheel drive EV with 12-inches of suspension travel – which it needs, to be fair.
“Some of the jumps I’ll be flying over are extremely big and kind of scary, but that’s why it’s exciting to me as it’s a new challenge.
“Rallycross is night and day different to Formula 1 and that’s why I love it. I left F1 after 17 years because I wanted to try something new. I’m all about new challenges. I’m a racing driver, not a Formula One driver, so new challenges is what I’m all about. I felt I achieved what I needed to in Formula 1 so it’s nice to try different things.”
While he spent 17 years at the top of the world’s premier motorsport series, Jenson’s family history is rooted in rallycross. His father John competed at the forefront of the British Championship while Jenson was growing up.
Jenson added: “There’s a real family connection with rallycross. Dad used to race in the late 70’s and 80’s in a Volkswagen Beetle and then a Volkswagen Golf. If you go on YouTube you’ll actually find some videos of my Dad racing at Lydden Hill with Murray Walker commentating.
“I’d like to emulate what he did – that would be pretty special. I used to love going along and watching him race. I remember it was so loud. That won’t be a problem this time – the FC1 is not loud; it’s awesome that the kids can come and watch and don’t need to wear headsets!”
XITE Energy Racing powered by myenergi team owner and driver Oli revealed the Bristol-based squad’s global intentions earlier this month.
Bringing Jenson in to drive alongside him is another step towards sporting success in Nitro RX and globalizing the XITE Energy brand.
“We’re a British team taking on the world,” said Oli. “There’s no bigger or better driver to represent the team and what the team stands for than Jenson. We’re hugely excited about what’s to come.
“His family history in rallycross and the fact that we’re both from the South West – him from Frome and me from Bristol – makes this a great story.
“We’ve already completed a lot of testing and we’ve learned a fair bit from each other. As you can imagine, he took to it really quickly, adapted his driving style and was very, very fast. It’s been really interesting and useful to compare the data – but I don’t think there’s any doubt which one of us is quicker in a go-kart…
“It’s great to work with Jenson. We competed against each other in Extreme E last season and immediately got on. He’s a great guy and somebody who’s going to be a great addition to XITE Energy Racing powered by myenergi.
“As well as the circuit experience he brings, one of the things you notice immediately is the level of professionalism. You don’t become a Formula 1 World Champion without knowing how to get the best out of the car, the engineers, the team and everybody around you. I feel, as an organization, we’ve already benefitted hugely from having him with us.”
The XITE Energy Racing powered by myenergi team will begin their test program with the FC1-X in the coming weeks.