Extreme E has pushed back the start date for its off-road electric motorsport. The organizers had originally planed to launch the championship on January 23rd in Dakar, Senegal. The first race weekend will now take place on March 20th and 21st in Saudi Arabia, though. The action will then move to Senegal on May 29th and 30th. Notably, the race in Nepal, which was originally planned for May 14th and 15th, has been replaced with a new event in Patagonia, Argentina on December 11th and 12. The dates for Kangerlussuaq, Greenland remain unchanged (August 28th and 29th), however, and the race in Santarem, Brazil has been moved forward by a week to October 23rd and 24th.
In a press release, Extreme E’s organizers said the delay and location switch was partly due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Although the teams won’t be racing in Nepal this year, “series organisers remain committed to a visit in future Extreme E seasons.”
Extreme E was unveiled by founder Alejandro Agag — the same person by Formula E — and professional racing driver Gil de Ferran in January 2019 . The various teams will use a monstrous electric SUV called the Odyssey 21 that should be able to tackle deserts, rainforests and glaciers alike. The racing will take place in spots that have already suffered environmental damage. As the competition moves around the world, the organizers plan to highlight the issues facing each region and support local initiatives. In addition, the teams and operational crew will be travelling around the world on on a former Royal Mail ship that’s been restored and modified to reduce CO2 emissions.
Formula 1 stars Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are both fielding teams, though neither will actually be racing. Unlike traditional motorsports, Extreme E has two drivers — one male and one female — that will complete a lap each of the course. Each weekend will have two qualifying races on Saturday, followed by two semi-finals and a grand final on Sunday. The first semi-final will allow three of the four cars to go through, while a second ‘crazy race’ semi-final will only a single victor to qualify for the final. Extreme E has also promised a system called GridPlay which lets viewers decide how the finalists should line up on the starting grid.
Extreme E will be run in close association with E1, an electric boating championship launched by Agag last month. E1 teams will use St. Helena as a floating paddock and race in many of the exotic locations planned for Extreme E. It’s not clear if the aquatic competition will be ready by March 2021, but organizers have vowed to develop the concept “on a tight timescale.”