Swedish Extreme E driver Timmy Hansen has spoken of his excitement at getting out on the sands of AlUla this weekend in Extreme E’s first ever competitive race: Saudi Arabia’s Desert X-Prix.
With qualifying taking place on Saturday – and Sunday playing host to the eco-friendly, high-speed, all-electric rally’s first ever X-Prix final – drivers, teams, and race fans alike are in the home straight in the countdown to one of motorsport’s biggest moments in recent history.
Extreme E will pit dual teams of male and female drivers together in a new style of racing aimed at promoting green energies and helping tackle some of the world’s biggest environmental issues – starting with desertification in the Kingdom this weekend.
One of those nine teams is Andretti United, which for Extreme E’s debut season has picked Sweden’s Timmy Hansen and Britain’s Catie Munnings as their driving team.
With vast motorsports experience already under their belts, both Timmy and Catie arrive in Saudi Arabia this week with big ambitions for not just themselves and Team Andretti, but for Extreme E and the impact they see the race series having on the wider world.
Timmy – who joins Extreme E as a previous FIA World Rallycross Championship Rallycross champion – said: “I’m very excited. Honestly, I don’t really know what to expect! It’s the first ever race and the format, the places we drive and cars we race are all new, as is the competition itself. It’s all very new but very exciting and I’m looking forward to getting started. It’s been a lot of talking and a lot of preparation so I can’t wait to get going now and get in the car.
“It’s a significant moment. It marks the point of motorsports being equal between men and women. It should have happened before but Extreme E is the first series to take this on and properly give women the right arena to show what they’re capable of.
“And that’s happening on top of everything Extreme E has to do with the environment, highlighting these issues around the world and what’s happening with climate change, going to these places that are already damaged, racing in those locations and leaving them in better shape than when we got here. It feels really good to be part of something like this, something very modern and futuristic, away from the typical motorsport stuff – the type of car, the difficult terrain, the high speeds, which all come with it too, of course. It’s a good package!”
Alongside his now trusted teammate Catie, Timmy – who hails from Gotene, Sweden – has spent the last few months getting to grips with Extreme E and a completely new style of racing.
In Extreme E, all teams compete in the same all-electric SUVs, with drivers only being given one look at the track they will be racing before heading out at top speed. Each race comprises two lengthy laps: one complete by the male driver, and the second by the female.
The pair now just cannot wait to get out on the sands of AlUla and put their training to the test.
Timmy, 28, said: “Catie and I have done a lot together. We’ve been in Dubai driving in the sand and Sweden for a week, where we drove up north on the ice, so we’ve actually spent a lot of time together away from regular testing. It feels like I’ve gotten to know her well and I’m very happy to be racing with Catie. She’s got great speed, great technique and I’m very happy its her I’m racing with.
“It’s quite different racing in the electric SUVS. It’s still a race car and you have to adapt to whatever race car you jump into, but the electric drive makes the car incredibly natural to drive. You don’t have to think about what gear you’re in or if there’ll be lag on the engine, where the good torque is or RPM. The engine just delivers instantly exactly what we want to have. That takes our focus away from the engine, which I’m used to giving feedback on, but now that its always perfect and as good as it always can be then we’re looking more at the chassis. Its new and feels light and like a car that can go faster than a fuel car.”
He added: “This whole championship will take us to remote locations which, on a personal level, will be very exciting to see. First up is Saudi and AlUla – a desert between rocks – where we’ll talk about desertification and go to the beach to clean up plastic and leave a positive footprint, doing what we can for the community.
“It looks like a magical destination – and we’re going to be racing there, which is so cool. There’ll be some big climbs and drops, depending on where the waypoints are and exactly how the track will be. It’s a beautiful place to race and I can’t wait.”
To follow all the live Extreme E action this weekend tune into MBC Sports and KSA Sports, with coverage getting underway on Friday.