Jutta Kleinschmidt will compete for ABT CUPRA XE in the Extreme E off-road electric car race series. The gender-equal motorsport series is designed to highlight the devastating effects of the climate crisis and demonstrate positive steps that can be taken to protect the planet.
The first, and so far the only female winner of the legendary Dakar Rally, will share the cockpit with Mattias Ekström for the remaining three races of the season. Kleinschmidt, who won the Dakar Rally in 2001, takes over the e-CUPRA ABT XE1 from Claudia Hürtgen, who has other work commitments.
Hürtgen said: “Top performance in off-road events like Extreme E requires intensive preparation, including testing and rally participation. This high time commitment is unfortunately not compatible at the moment with my professional work at BMW, which I live for with the same passion.
“I’m very grateful for the experiences that I’ve had within the Extreme E family and wish ABT, CUPRA and Jutta only the very best for the next races.”
Extreme E is familiar territory for Jutta Kleinschmidt in her role as championship driver and advisor. She attended the first two events and supported the organisers with her in-depth knowledge from her participation in 17 Dakar races.
In Senegal, she stepped in at short notice for Hürtgen who was absent due to illness, and impressed with a strong performance.
Kleinschmidt said: “At first, I followed the series from the organisers’ point of view. Then I got a spontaneous drive and now, together with Mattias, I’m actually a permanent member of the family of drivers. I’m very happy for the chance to compete at the highest level again.”
Thomas Biermaier, ABT CEO, said: “We had a really turbulent start to our Extreme E adventure. Hopefully, calm will return in the second half of the year and we’ll start competing for trophies.
“My heartfelt thanks go to Claudia, who has given everything for our joint project from day one. Off of the track we remain good friends. In the cockpit, we are repositioning ourselves with Jutta. We are proud that she will be part of our team from now on.”
Kleinschmidt will be making her first appearance for the team at PR appointments for partner CUPRA next week. The sporting focus will be entirely on the race in Greenland that will be held during the last weekend in August.
Mattias Ekström, ABT CUPRA XE driver, said: “Accidents in Saudi Arabia and a spontaneous driver change in Senegal. It’s time for us to now have a smooth weekend.
“We will thoroughly review the season so far, prepare more intensively than ever and try to make a fresh start in Greenland.”
The Extreme E Arctic X Prix in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland will be held on August 28 and 29