The Harshest Racing Environments on Earth
If you think electric cars are only suitable for driving around the city, then think again. Extreme E takes EVs to the most remote and untamed regions of the planet. Drivers and their vehicles square off against the most extreme conditions in a unique racing series, as the action unfolds against Mother Nature’s most spectacular backdrops.
Teams taking part in Extreme E have to be ready for anything. The vehicles are tuned for high performance and high speeds, leaving no room for error as they pit their wits against each other and the terrain. This is not a series for the faint-hearted and only a blend of unbendable willpower, technological know-how and teamwork will succeed.
Taking on that challenge are some of the very best race drivers in the world, the series attracting the best of the best from diverse racing disciplines, including Rally champions, Dakar legends, Baja 1000 competitors, and Formula One racers.
2023 will see the third season of Extreme E racing. Each season comprises of five “X-Prix” race weekends, each held at a different location around the world, with each location chosen to not only provide a challenging racing environment but also to highlight environmental issues that it is facing. 10 teams, each with one male and one female driver, compete for the overall title. Each X-Prix race weekend consists of two 5-car qualifying rounds, followed by a Grand Final for the fastest 5 cars from the qualifiers. The remaining 5 teams compete against each other in what’s called the ‘Redemption Race’. Once the points are decided, it’s off to the next location for the next X-Prix.
Taking the roving control centre to each location is the RMS St Helena. A former Royal Mail ship, it serves as a sustainable transport and mobile command centre, taking the vehicles and staff from each team to the race locations via the high seas. It might be a slower way to reach the destination but it serves a crucial purpose, which sits behind the series itself. It’s a sustainable way to get the event staff and electric buggies from one location to another as the series unfolds around the world.
The Extreme E race plan also recognises that it’s not enough just to highlight the plight of different environmentally challenged locations. At each race location, a series of legacy projects are implemented, categorised as desert, ocean, arctic, and amazon. These projects cover a wide range of initiatives such as helping the critically endangered hawksbill turtle, reforesting mangroves in the estuaries of Senegal, supporting UNCEFs educational efforts, and protecting the forests of the Amazon. This guarantees the benefits of a visit from Extreme E last much longer than a race weekend and has a real benefit to the environment.
The Toughest Tyre Ever Made
With the most challenging and variable terrain of any race series on earth, a new kind of tyre was needed. A tyre that could cope with the unique dynamics of the purpose-built SUVs used. At 2.3 metres wide, with 400 kw of power and incredible instant torque, these are certainly demanding machines. They fly over ridges and through the air, race at 55-degree gradients, and have to cope with extremes of temperature. The tyres are exposed to scorching heat and blistering colds, along with mud, sand and ice.
Meeting these demands is the CrossContact Extreme E. The tyre compound is all new and the specially designed tread pattern combines traction ribs and pockets. To hold up to heavy loads at high speeds, the casing has been reinforced and is able to withstand the impact of lumps, bumps and crash landings. For Extreme E teams, they have a tyre that guarantees stability and traction on any surface, so they can really push their powerful machines to the very extreme of what’s possible.
Critically, for a racing series concerned with raising awareness of environmental issues, the CrossContact Extreme E tyres include reused materials, with one-third of the materials of the tyre effectively coming from a recycled source. This is important for Continental as we continue to progress our environmental efforts and look to a more sustainable future.
How to Follow the Action
Season 3 of Extreme E commences in the sustainable future metropolis of NEOM in Saudi Arabia, where the heat is sweltering and the terrain is arid and sandy. A visionary location, NEOM the ideal location to kick off the most futuristic race on the planet.
From there, the action moves to the coast of Scotland for the Hydro Xprix. It’s here where the drivers' mettle will be tested by racing across the rugged landscape of the Scottish highlands just as Autumn starts to bite down and introduces an unsettling unpredictability.
Come July, the teams and drivers return to Sardinia. It’s a favourite location and has featured in every season of Extreme E so far. The shifting surfaces guarantee an eventful race weekend, the drivers having to contend with rocks and gravel, along with rapid changes in elevation. There’s a reason this course is a fan favourite.
Location number 4 is yet to be decided. We do know the choice is between Brazil and the USA, and both promise something different yet equally exciting. We also know the final race is in the Atacama Desert. The driest place on earth, with little-to-no rainfall in the last 200 million years, this region in the north of Chile is home to terrains that can be compared to the soil on Mars. Did someone say ‘racing that is out of this word’?
The entire race series is beamed around the world and available to watch live or near-live, with the action also unfolding across every major social media platform.
Finally, if you need a little more gentle encouragement to tune in, it might come in the form of Emma Gilmour. A Kiwi, Emma is the first and only female driver to win a New Zealand Rally Championship Event and was the first female to win a podium place in Extreme E for NEOM MacLaren. You can follow Emma’s exploits and stay updated with the race calendar and hot to tune in by clicking here.