The climate debate stirs up dust – in the literal sense: the E-Cupra Abt XE1 emerges from a cloud of dust on the training course in Spain. It looks like something out of a “desert planet”, sweeps up like out of “Mad Max”, throwing sand and stones and then comes to a stop. Very, very quietly. Allow: extreme electromobility.
On to the ride. Forced into the 1.86 meter high rally monster, lashed down. Come on. And how! The driver’s wild drift is reminiscent of a trip in a Dakar rally mini. Roller coaster. Wow! The gravel crackles deafeningly against the sub-floor, but no burner roars. We jump over hills for meters. What a ride!
Dakar winner at the wheel
Only after the violent round do I ask to the left: “You are …?” Comes back with a laugh: “I’m Jutta Kleinschmidt!” But hello! Every two-man team in the new Extreme E racing series consists of a man and a woman. Cracks like Carlos Sainz (59) and Sébastien Loeb (47), Cristina Gutiérrez (30) and Sara Price (28). Or “Jutta Kleinschmidt” (59), the only Dakar Rally winner, who alternates with Mattias Ekström (43) in the team for the Abt-Cupra team.
Technically, the Extreme E is a Formula E on studded tires. Identical basis for everyone – by teams like that of the Spanish Seat sports subsidiary Cupra and tuner Abt (D) packed according to taste. Such an E-Cupra Abt XE1 has 544 PS (400 kW) and 920 Nm at 1 / min from two electric motors. So the 1780-kilo all-wheel drive speeds to 100 and up to 200 km / h in 4.5 seconds. The battery in the giant, which is 4.40 meters long and 2.30 meters wide, has 54 kWh – and comes from McLaren.
Racing with heavy current
And in the rally camp is a diesel generator humming in the background? No, the electricity comes from hydrogen-powered fuel cells and solar power: Extreme E wants to be climate-neutral and not leave an ugly ecological footprint in the sand. The paddock is camped on the ex-mail ship «St. Helena », which was even trimmed to be eco-friendly (here more about shipping and the environment).
At first glance, it makes no sense to drive in places that are particularly hard hit by climate change: Motorsport in CO2-Crisis areas, so to speak, from the desert (Saudi Arabia) to the coast (Senegal) to the Amazon and islands like Sardinia or on August 28th and 29th in the unfortunately no longer eternal ice of Greenland. Does that make sense?
Climate protection by rally?
One could argue long and inconclusive whether a rally series is the right grade for electromobility and against climate change. Like Formula E or the ETRC (electric touring car), Extreme E will initially have a difficult time with fans and, like any motor sport, is also a development tool for the manufacturer and pure publicity. At Cupra, for example, this also refers to the first series Stromer Born.
But the fact that motorsport is not motor sport without engine noise is likely to end up in the storeroom of automotive history parallel to the combustion engine – because times are changing. Years ago it was unthinkable that every tenth new car in Switzerland (January – July 2021) would be purely electric. And the summer that is not and stormy is likely to cause doubts about climate change to be doubted.
Live broadcast of the race
By the way, it’s not just drivers who are top-class. The teams at Extreme E include, for example, one each of the racing drivers Lewis Hamilton (36) and Nico Rosberg (36). The US racing team Andretti is also there, even Hispano-Suiza or Abt-Cupra – and McLaren wants to get involved in 2022. This season is driven in the knockout system à la rallycross; Qualifying sessions on Saturdays, semi-finals and finals on Sundays, which you can watch live on MySports One and Extreme-e.com. Either way, the Extreme E will definitely be fun – and stir up dust.