Saudi desert in NEOM set for start of Extreme E Season 2

LONDON: Building on the success of its debut year in 2021, Extreme E Season 2, dubbed The Race for the Planet, is set to kick off with the Desert X Prix in NEOM on Feb. 19 and 20, while delivering on its overall aim to tackle climate change through sport.

The new season will begin in the deserts of NEOM in northwest Saudi Arabia where the Kingdom’s largest global project is taking shape.

NEOM’s landscapes include diverse terrains from expansive red sands to spectacular sandstone formations and the location 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 centers, sports and entertainment venues, and tourist destinations.

The megacity was chosen as a location by Extreme E not only for its picturesque desert landscape and shared values of sustainability and innovation, but also because the 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 had taken place in Saudi Arabia, home of the world’s largest continuous sand desert, and its AlUla region, in Season 1 for its first X Prix, which was won by the championship’s inaugural winners, Rosberg X Racing (RXR).

Alejandro Agag, chief executive officer 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 racecourse, 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,” he added.

Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal, chairman of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, and the Saudi Motorsport Co., 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 Crown Prince Mohammed 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, and 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,” the prince added.

CEO of NEOM, Nadhmi Al-Nasr, 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,” Al-Nasr added.

Teams and drivers

The 10 teams and 20 drivers for the Desert X Prix are as follows:

ABT CUPRA XE – Nasser Al-Attiyah / Jutta Kleinschmidt 

ACCIONA, Sainz XE Team – Carlos Sainz Snr. / Laia Sanz

Genesys Andretti United Extreme E – Timmy Hansen / Catie Munnings

Chip Ganassi Racing – Kyle LeDuc / Sara Price

McLaren XE – Tanner Foust / Emma Gilmour

JBXE – Kevin Hansen / Molly Taylor

Rosberg X Racing – Johan Kristoffersson / Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky

Veloce Racing – Lance Woolridge / Christine Giampaoli Zonca (GZ)

X44 – Sebastien Loeb / Cristina Gutierrez

XITE ENERGY RACING – Oliver Bennett / Tamara Molinaro

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