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One of the mavericks yet again: Just like in Formula E, ABT Sportline is involved right from the very beginning in Extreme E. After years of success in various types of racing on track and with experience in electric mobility and sustainability, the German squad from Kempten in the Allgäu region joins forces with CUPRA as the ABT CUPRA XE team and heads off road in the latest and most adventurous electric motorsport category.
Extreme E is a fully-electric off-road racing series that has been born out of the rising concerns facing our environment. It aims to share the story of the effects of climate change and humanity’s impact on the environment through the adventure of exciting motorsport taking place around the world, in order to promote environmental conservation and responsibility from everyone. “We want to bring awareness, showcase electric cars and we want to leave behind a positive legacy linked to climate change,” says Alejandro Agag, Extreme E Founder and CEO. The exciting and remote locations have been selected to showcase various environments that are in constant danger due to the ongoing global climate crisis.
On board the RMS St. Helena cargo-passenger vessel, the paddock’s floating base cruises the open seas to the calendar’s remote locations around the world. From Saudi Arabia to Senegal, to Argentina, Greenland and Brazil, Extreme E has five exciting destinations for its inaugural season starting in April 2021.
The events are comprised of two race days. The first includes the qualifying races on Saturdays, followed by the semi-finals and the final concluding the event on Sundays. The tracks offer various challenges for the drivers along the way with jumps, gradients and more along the courses that are up to 10 kilometers in length. Each race will have two laps and will last for approximately ten minutes.
A further highlight: A woman and a man take turns behind the wheel of the racing cars, with a driver swap taking place after one of the two laps.
ABT CUPRA XE was the first team in Extreme E to announce its starting number: 125. “Because our company is celebrating its 125th birthday in 2021 and we want to honor this with this special starting number at our races around the world,” says Hans-Jürgen Abt, managing partner.
“For us, participation in Extreme E is a great story, also in view of our history,” says ABT CEO Thomas Biermaier. ABT was founded in 1896 as a horse smithy in Kempten and is now in the hands of the fourth and fifth generation. “From horse-drawn carriages in the Allgäu winter to high-tech electric SUV in the desert of Africa, this shows the impressive development of our company in over a century.”
The Extreme E race car, nicknamed “the Beast”, has been specifically developed for the series. The car was designed by Spark Racing Technology in France and consists of a tubular frame with niobium-reinforced steel alloy, a crash structure and a roll cage. The spec car will be used by all of the teams competing in the inaugural season. The battery technology is supplied by Williams Advanced Engineering from the UK. This energy is transferred to the ground through Continental tyres from Germany. The car of the Kempten-based team is called the e-CUPRA ABT XE1.
The SUV was first revealed at the 2019 Goodwood Festival of Speed and driven there by Indy 500 winner and Extreme E co-founder Gil de Ferran.
One look at the all-electric SUV makes it clear: With its 400 kW (550 hp) of power and a weight of 1,650 kilograms, this vehicle was born for off-road racing. Even rally superstar Ken Block has already done his laps in the race car, at no less an event than the 2020 Dakar Rally.
The Swedish ace continues his 22-year history with ABT Sportsline while competing for the German company in the inaugural Extreme E season during 2021. Having first raced with ABT Sportsline in 1999, Ekström rose to prominence in the world of motorsport as a longtime Audi factory driver and became a two-time DTM champion in a career spanning seventeen years in the German touring car series from 2001 to 2017, all done together with ABT Sportsline. His skills are not just limited to being behind the wheel of a race car, which he proved by building up his own team, EKS, from the ground up. Together with his EKS team, he went on to compete in the FIA World Rallycross Championship, which culminated in Ekström being crowned as the world champion in 2016. A new chapter dawned for Ekström in 2019, when he joined CUPRA as an e-ambassador to be part of the Spanish company’s future of electro mobility on the race track, which includes being part of the development of the CUPRA e-Racer. Entering Extreme E alongside ABT Sportsline and CUPRA adds yet another accolade to Ekström’s very versatile curriculum vitae in the world of motorsport.
Claudia Hürtgen completes the team for the Extreme E adventure. She will be competing alongside Mattias Ekström in the new racing series. The 49-year-old German looks back on a long career in motorsport. Hürtgen’s career in motorsport began in karting in 1987. This was followed by a move into single-seater racing. With successes in various touring and sports car racing series, as well as appearances in several endurance races, Hürtgen is one of Europe’s most successful female drivers. Most recently, Hürtgen competed in the ADAC GT4 Germany and for the 15th time in the Nürburgring 24 Hours. After her 25 years in motorsport, Hürtgen is now tackling a completely new and exciting challenge in Extreme E.
04/03-04 Sharaan, Al-’Ula (Saudi Arabia)
05/29–30 Lac Rose (Senegal)
08/28–29 Kangerlussuaq (Greenland)
10/23–24 Santarem (Brazil)
12/11–12 Tierra del Fuego (Argentinia)
Each of the selected locations tells its own story within the global climate crisis, with all of them being under constant threat. Extreme E aims to raise awareness of the environmental concerns and, through its Legacy Program, help each of the regions with initiatives in order to provide both social and environmental support.
The deserts of Saudi Arabia will host the first-ever Extreme E event. With harsh conditions, the landscape highlights the increasing risk of water scarcity and droughts brought on due to climate change and increasing temperatures.
Extreme E’s visit to the West Coast of Africa will highlight the adversities faced by the world’s oceans due to the climate crisis, from the loss of marine ecosystems to increasing levels of pollution and rising sea levels. Lac Rose will host the inaugural season’s only race on a shoreline, a stretch of beach known for hosting the transitional finish of the Dakar Rally in Africa.
Racing next to the Russell Glacier on the world’s largest island, Greenland offers Extreme E a beautiful and challenging location. Increasing temperatures puts the arctic at risk, resulting in melting ice caps and rising sea levels. Extreme E emphasizes awareness by racing on land left behind by the receding glacier.
Deforestation is an ever-increasing threat to forests the world over, especially the great Amazon rainforest, where Extreme E will be hosting its season finale in Brazil. Taking place on a severely affected part of the Pará region, the devastating effects of deforestation and the loss of biodiversity will be brought to the fore.
Increasing temperatures put the world’s mountain glaciers at risk, which in turn threatens water sources and puts communities of the regions in harm’s way. Extreme E aims to raise awareness of the melting mountain glaciers all over the world, when the fully-electric off-road series hosts its round at this glacier area.