Scene set for Saudi spectacular as Extreme E Season 2 is set to get underway

Scene set for Saudi spectacular as Extreme E Season 2 is set to get underway

16.02.2022: Building on the success of its debut year in 2021, Extreme E Season 2 ‘The Race For the Planet’ promises to captivate on and off track on a whole new level, whilst delivering on its overall purpose to tackle climate change through sport, starting with the

Building on the success of its debut year in 2021, Extreme E Season 2 ‘The Race For the Planet’ promises to captivate on and off track on a whole new level, whilst delivering on its overall purpose to tackle climate change through sport, starting with the Desert X Prix in NEOM, Saudi Arabia, this weekend (19-20 February).

Extreme E Season 2 begins in the deserts of NEOM, a region in the northwest of Saudi Arabia where the Kingdom’s largest global giga-project is taking shape. NEOM’s breath-taking landscapes include diverse terrains from expansive red sands, spectacular sandstone formations and is set to be the home and workplace to residents from around the world. It will include hyperconnected, cognitive towns and cities, ports and enterprise zones, research centres, sports and entertainment venues, and tourist destinations.

As part of its commitment to offer exceptional liveability, NEOM is set to be the home of adventure sports – creating active communities and hosting world-class sporting events, Extreme E being among the first.

NEOM was chosen as a location by Extreme E, not only for its picturesque desert landscape and its shared values of sustainability and innovation, but also because this sport-for-purpose championship aims to highlight the causes of desertification, the loss of biological diversity and the importance of resilience because of the impacts of climate change. In addition, the distinct and diverse desert terrain of NEOM will also ensure it is an all-new challenge for the drivers and their ODYSSEY 21 electric SUVs.

Extreme E visited Saudi Arabia, home of the world’s largest continuous sand desert, and its AlUla region, in Season 1 for its inaugural X Prix, which was won by the Championship’s inaugural winners, Rosberg X Racing (RXR).

Alejandro Agag, CEO and Founder of Extreme E, said:
“Using our sport for purpose platform, Extreme E delivered truly ground-breaking action in its first season, on and off the race course, and now we are ready to go and do it all again, with more experience and more determination than ever.

“Taking the championship to NEOM for our desert location will be an exciting moment, as NEOM's long-term plans are very much in keeping with the ethos of Extreme E – it is attempting to do something that's never been done before and comes at a time when the world needs fresh thinking and new solutions.

“As we saw in our first-ever championship race, the Kingdom's terrain is stunning and unforgiving. The desertscape promises to be intense, and it will be an unprecedented challenge for our competitors to explore in a new desert terrain with warmer racing conditions.”

HRH Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al- Faisal, Chairman of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle federation and the Saudi Motorsports Company, said:
“The return of Extreme E to the Kingdom for the second year in a row further helps emphasize Saudi Arabia’s commitment to a more sustainable future.

Welcoming this revolutionary series to NEOM aligns with one of the most important goals and pillars of Vision 2030 as well as the personal aspirations of HRH the Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, to make the Kingdom a leading country in the development and promotion of alternative energy sources and the preservation of the environment for future generations.

“This next instalment of the Extreme E race is further proof of the Kingdom’s transformation into a powerhouse for motorsport in the region, the event taking place shortly after the conclusion of another successful Dakar Rally at the start of this year further underlines this. Additionally, we have just hosted our inaugural F1 Grand Prix on the newest, longest, and fastest street circuit in the world.”

Nadhmi Al-Nasr, NEOM’s CEO, said
: “NEOM has made no secret of its desire to promote sustainability and raise awareness around some of the world's most pressing challenges, such as climate change and nature conservation. We feel hosting an innovative racing event such as Extreme E in a region dedicated to pioneering clean technology and mobility solutions perfectly manifests our goals.

“In keeping with our approach to encouraging talent development and diversity, we are delighted to welcome the drivers, both male and female, the Extreme E team, and leading experts to NEOM. Sport is an important sector for NEOM and will be key in creating a new form of livability and driving economic growth. In particular, adventure sport offerings will be a major contributor to the visitor economy.”

New Sporting Format

The Series has devised an innovative format unlike any other, likened to ‘Star Wars Pod Racing meets Dakar Rally.’ Designed to put driver performance firmly in focus, the five X Prix of Extreme E Season 2 will feature the pressure of five car races for qualifying on Day One.

Depending on where you finish in your qualifying race, you will get points awarded for Q1 and Q2. This gives an Intermediate Classification that will decide the order for which cars progress through to Semi Final 1, Semi Final 2 and the Crazy Race on Day Two. The top two teams from each Semi Final and the winner of the Crazy Race progress to the Final.

Every round will incorporate two laps over a total distance of approximately 14 kilometres. In a motorsport world-first, teams will field one male and one female driver, promoting gender equality and a level playing field amongst competitors. The teams will determine which driver goes first to best suit their strategy and driver order selections are made confidentially, with competitors kept in the dark as to other teams’ choices until the last possible moment. Contests between males and females will therefore be ensured.

Both drivers will complete one lap behind the wheel of the ODYSSEY 21 electric SUV, with a driver changeover, the ‘Switch’, included after the first lap. A ‘Hyperdrive’ boost will also be available to each driver on each lap of the race. Activated when the driver presses a button on their steering wheel, they will enjoy an increase in power for a fixed amount of time. The timing for this will be a key decision.

Continental Traction Challenge

The team that sets the fastest time through the allocated sector in Qualifying, Semi-Finals, Crazy Race and Final, will win the Continental Traction Challenge and earn five Championship points.

If any teams are tied in the qualifying standings their positioning will be determined by their time in the Continental Traction Challenge - the team with the quicker run through the allocated sector receiving the higher overall position in qualifying.

As previously stated, the team finishing third in Semi-Final 1 or Semi-Final 2 that sets the faster Continental Traction Challenge time shall be deemed to be the 6th place finisher.

Saudi Arabia and climate change

In Saudi Arabia, Extreme E has collaborated with the Ba’a Foundation, an organisation that focuses on preserving endangered species, natural habitats and historical sites to support turtle conservation along the Red Sea coastline. Extreme E are supporting turtle conservation through beach fencing, management, monitoring and educational programmes.

Ba’a Foundation aspires to preserve the local environment, promote a culture of conscious environmental practices, and contribute to achieving sustainable environmental development.

We collaborated with the Ba’a Foundation on a five-year conservation initiative to help protect the endangered green turtle and critically endangered hawksbill turtle along the Red Sea coastline.

As part of Extreme E’s five-year conservation initiative programme with the Ba’a Foundation, the series has supported turtle conservation by:  

•    Cleaning the beach of rubbish pollution and debris

•    Building beach fencing to help protect the species during nesting season

•    Improving beach management and monitoring practices

•    Importing sand to raise the beach to an appropriate level for nesting

Count Us In Challenge

Extreme E will continue its collaboration with Count Us In for the Extreme E Count Us In Challenge, which uses the power of sport and the excitement of motor racing to inspire fans to take practical steps to reduce their carbon footprint and, in doing so, urge governments, cities and businesses to accelerate progress on climate action.

Steps range in impact from pledging to walk and cycle more, eating more plant-based food, to Extreme E’s ultimate goal of switching to an electric vehicle. All steps taken will be added up and the winning team will claim the overall Extreme E Sustainability Award at the end of the season.

New course, new challenges

In terms of surface, there are various types of sand conditions in NEOM. There is soft sand with rocks in between, dunes scaling up and down hill, which all differ in thickness and weight of the sand. Outside temperature will also affect the ground surface, as the early mornings in NEOM in February will be much cooler than the teams experienced in AlUla last season.

Aside from the obvious difficulties of driving on sand, there will be various natural obstacles including dune grass and bushes. Deep and blind crests will also keep the world-class drivers on their toes as they take on this course. The drivers will need to be sensible and analyse the course layout to understand the quickest route as on course there won’t be much track time to determine exactly where to go.

Overtaking will also prove a bigger challenge than at other locations. As well as having knowledge of their racing line, the drivers need to know what is beside that line to determine whether to overtake on the right side or the left. One wrong move and they could be faced with a tricky obstacle to navigate.

Sandra Roslan, Project Lead Extreme E at Continental, said: “We are ready for an even more exciting second Extreme E season and looking forward to once again proving the outstanding performance of our tires under the toughest and most challenging conditions.

“The Desert X Prix also marks the beginning of an exciting time for us at Continental, as we have developed a new high-performance tire for the second season. We have not only improved performance, but also placed particular emphasis on a high proportion of sustainable materials – and this is what Extreme E is all about.”

Extreme E Season 1 Sustainability Report

Extreme E has published its first Sustainability Report, including its carbon footprint for Season 1.

The report, supported by EY, the series’ Official Innovation Partner, summarises Extreme E’s sustainability tactics and achievements throughout its first season, as well as its Carbon Footprint, whilst also outlining its strategy and focus for 2022 and beyond.

Highlights from the report include:

•    Carbon Neutral by end of Season 1

Methods used to minimise footprint included:  

•    Using electric vehicles for racing.

•    Not having fans on site but instead engaging them through innovative broadcast and social media entertainment. 

•    Refurbishing a former Royal Mail ship to carry freight and logistics over air travel, which provides a 75 per cent reduction on emissions compared to air freight. 

•    Using AFC Energy hydrogen fuel cells which utilise solar and water to create electricity for powering the race vehicles. 

•    Powering the paddock operations with second-life Zenobe batteries.

•    Capping race team personnel to just seven people – two drivers, one engineer and four mechanics.

Carbon offsetting: Extreme E has offset its Season 1 carbon footprint by investing in environmental certificates for a wind farm Patagonia, Argentina. Known as being one of the windiest regions of the world, each year 300 GWh of clean renewable electricity is supplied to the grid and 190,000 tons of GHG emissions are prevented from entering the atmosphere.

- Julia Frey, photos Formula E


16.02.2022 / MaP

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