The Extreme E off-road electric racing series is “getting close” to securing some event locations for its first planned season in 2021, according to its co-founder Gil de Ferran.
While not in a position to announce specific venues, de Ferran – who helped launch the Extreme E base car at Goodwood last weekend – expressed confidence that deals would be coming together soon despite a set of “very specific requirements”.
The series is set to hold one round once every month and a half with the paddock being transported from race to race on the former Royal Mail ship the St. Helena.
Five regions have been pinpointed as areas of interest: the Arctic, the Amazon rainforest, the Himalaya mountains, the Indian Ocean islands and an undefined desert.
“I spoke with [co-founder] Alejandro [Agag] about this the other day, and we are very close to getting three or four locations sorted,” de Ferran told e-racing365.
“To some extent, there are some very specific requirements. It has to be a region of interest and it has to provide great imagery.
“It has to tell a compelling story about the environment and the challenges it faces. We must be able to leave a positive legacy, and we have to put on a good show on the racing front.
“You have to balance a lot of things, so each event will be very unique. Frankly, that is part of the appeal that makes it different.”
While initially stating five specific regions as rough locations, Extreme E has since widened its approach for the desert option, with the Sahara no longer defined.
Agag explained that the current status of the desert location is now “open” and that the series would not necessarily be tied to holding a contest in Africa.
“We don’t know which desert yet, it’s open. We have a few options,” he told e-racing365.
“[It] may be [in Africa], but maybe not. We have options on the desert, and for sure there will be a desert [race], but we still haven’t decided.”
Agag, who is the chairman of Extreme E’s operating partner Formula E, added that the series is “already talking” to local authorities in the prospective race locations.
“We choose our locations through the link and the storytelling we could have for the particular environmental challenges that area has,” he explained.
“We want to be able to tell the story with what’s going on, such as the melting of ice caps or deforestation in the Amazon. That’s how we choose the locations.
“They [local authorities and governments] have loved the concept immediately because we are also working around sustainability and making things better for the environment.”
Agag feels that the championship’s underlying aim of highlighting human-driven climate change will negate the direct adverse impact of racing in threatened environments.
He used the example of hosting the rainforest event in an area already affected by deforestation to show the extent of the ecological loss that intensive logging creates.
“It will impact [the environment] in a positive way,” he said.
“When people see the locations, their worry is going to disappear. They will understand that there is no damage by the racing, and on the contrary, we are going to leave a legacy behind that will improve the conditions for the communities living there.
“Maybe we will leave solar power for the villagers around the places that we race or cleaning the beach in the case of classic pollution, for example.”
When asked if contributing to the series’ humanitarian cause is a prerequisite for OEM manufacturer involvement, Agag said: “If car manufacturers want to come and join us in the effort, they are welcome, but that will be an Extreme E project.”
Venturi is so far the only team to have committed to the first season, which is reserved for 12 single-car entries, although Agag said he’s currently in discussions with “five or six OEMs”.