The spectacular new Extreme E off-road racing series will kick off its inaugural season in Saudi Arabia on 3 and 4 April. “The anticipation among everyone involved is huge, and the excitement is increasing with every day that the premiere gets closer,” says Sandra Roslan, who is responsible for the project at Continental, a founding partner and premium sponsor of the series. “It’s clear that Extreme E will offer first-class racing and the best possible entertainment from the outset. This is not least due to the exceptional ODYSSEY 21 electric SUVs, which have been specially developed for the racing series, and the prominent names behind the wheel.” In fact, the organisers have succeeded in attracting no less than 10 current and former world champions from various disciplines to Extreme E. After Formula 1 champions Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg announced their participation at an early stage as team founders, Jenson Button recently became the third world champion from the premier class of motorsport to take part as not only a team owner, but also a driver. With Johan Kristoffersson, Timmy Hansen and Mattias Ekström, three World Rallycross Champions will also be driving the ODYSSEY 21. They will be joined on the starting grid by World Rally Champions Sébastien Loeb and Carlos Sainz Snr, Women’s Trial World Champion Laia Sanz, Pro 4 World Champion Kyle LeDuc, reigning W Series title defender Jamie Chadwick, as well as a former Australian Rally Champion Molly Taylor. Further high-profile stars may also be added to the list, with some teams yet to confirm their drivers.
The Extreme E racing series is not only intended to offer exciting motorsport, but also to highlight the harmful consequences of global warming through its choice of routes close to threatened habitats. In doing so, it aims to encourage motorsport fans worldwide, as well as spectators, politicians and public authorities, to further intensify their efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. “That’s why we’re delighted with the high-profile competitors,” says Roslan. “Not only do they guarantee exciting head-to-head races, they will also make a significant contribution towards generating the attention we’re hoping for, to persuade as many people as possible to act responsibly when it comes to the environment.”
At the races, which will be broadcast all over Europe, all the teams will compete in an electric SUV dubbed the ODYSSEY 21. With a length of 440 cm, a width of 230 cm and a height of 186 cm, this exceptional vehicle has roughly the same dimensions as commercially available SUVs. Its wheelbase of 300 cm is fairly standard as well. However, with an electric equivalent of around 550 hp, the vehicle produced by French racing manufacturer Spark Racing Technology is a real powerhouse – and it weighs just 1,780 kilograms. In comparison, the average Rally Dakar vehicle has around 300 hp and weighs more than two tons. Its acceleration is equally impressive. Powered by two electric motors, the SUV goes from a standstill to 100 km/h in just 4.5 seconds, and it can also negotiate inclines of around 55 degrees with ease. In order to bring so much power to the various courses safely, under all conditions, all the teams in the new off-road racing series will rely on the 37-inch CrossContact Extreme E racing tyre, which has been specially developed by Continental.
Continental is a founding partner and premium sponsor of the Extreme E racing series. The technology company will equip all vehicles in the races with tyres for the diverse and very demanding situations.
The 2021 season at a glance:
AlUla, Saudi Arabia - April 3/4
Dakar, Senegal - May 29/30
Kangerlussuaq, Greenland - August 28/29
Santarem, Brazil - October 23/24
Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego - December 11/12