Today marks International Women’s Day and ground-breaking motorsport series Extreme E is primed to make its debut in Saudi Arabia in just under a month. The new electric off-road championship aims to use sport to raise awareness for the climate crisis and the role of clean energy mobility, and to eradicate existing preconceptions around gender divides in motorsport.
Extreme E will see a plethora of top female drivers including 2019 W Series winner Jamie Chadwick, Off-Road Truck Champion and X Games Medallist Sara Price, and Australian Rally Champion Molly Taylor. They will be going head-to-head with some of motorsport’s biggest names including F1 Champion Jenson Button and World Rally Champion legend Sébastien Loeb.
The five-race event takes place in areas that have been damaged or affected by climate and environmental issues. The global series will be used to highlight the impact of climate change and human interference in some of the world’s most remote locations. It will also promote the adoption of electric vehicles in the quest for a lower-carbon future for the planet, as well as gender equality.
The rules of this motorsport world-first state that each team will field one female and one male driver in identical 550-bhp electric sports utility vehicles. The races take place over two laps, known as an X Prix, ensuring a completely level playing field amongst competitors.
Drivers will complete one lap each of the course with a driver changeover, ‘the Switch’, incorporated into the race format. It’s up to the teams to determine the order in which they send their drivers out to best suit their strategy. The series kicks off in the desert of Saudi Arabia on April 3.
Jamie Chadwick, Veloce Racing Driver, said: “Extreme E is a leap into the unknown for me. The first time I tested the car, an electric SUV I knew I wanted to race it. It’s a large vehicle, yet the stunning power it produces when you put your foot down makes it exhilarating to drive. The fact that Extreme E is also committed to gender equality is just the icing on the cake.
“I want to prove that I can beat everybody at this kind of level, which means men and women alike. The prospect of going up against the likes of Jenson Button and Sébastien Loeb, these guys were heroes to me when I was growing up, is incredible. If you want to succeed in sport, as in life, you must be prepared to push yourself.”
Molly Taylor, Rosberg X Racing Driver, Molly Taylor, said: “One of the great things about motorsport is that when you put the helmet on it doesn’t matter what gender you are and that’s always been my philosophy. What I have noticed through competing, is the number of young girls that when they see a female competing, they then want to be involved.
“I think having that exposure at the highest level is important to help improve the diversity and equality for the next generations coming up. If [Extreme E] can help change the amount of girls that are involved in racing at a grassroots level and therefore what the future of our sport looks like, I think it’s really important for that reason.”
Sara Price, Chip Ganassi Racing Driver, said: “When I put a helmet on you know I often get this question, ‘ how is it being a female in a male-dominated sport?’, and I say, ‘I’m not a female I’m not a male, I’m just a racer’.
“What Extreme E is doing right now is pretty incredible. It is going to be able to provide girls who have incredible talent that’s never been seen before, a chance to showcase it – that itself is huge for women as well as for motorsport.”
Extreme E Founder and CEO, Alejandro Agag, comments: “We are striving for equality. Everybody will race together, and only the most effective combination of drivers, team, engineers and car will rise to the top. I believe that our race format will challenge all of the drivers, male and female, which is what makes this concept so exciting.
“There is no shortage of women drivers good enough to take the seats. My aim is that one day, female participation and achievement throughout motorsport will be at such levels where it simply is not a story, then I will be happy.”