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Extreme E: Sébastien Loeb and Cristina Gutiérrez Join Team X44

The team founded by Seven-Time Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton, X44, announced on Friday the pairing that will compete in the electric SUV off-road racing series 2021 inaugural campaign.

Joining team X44 is an opportunity for me to continue to do what I love, which is race, and I’m looking forward to competing in an electric vehicle,” Sébastien Loeb said.

The French driver, who is also known as Le Patron, or The Boss, has broken all records, making history by winning nine consecutive World Rally Championship titles.

In March 2021, the motorsport legend will start a new chapter in his career, joining forces with driver Cristina Gutierrez at the wheel of the ODYSSEY 21 challenger in the Extreme E championship.

Cristina is a fantastic driver, and I can’t wait to partner with her and see what we can achieve together.”

He added: “I am really impressed by what Lewis is doing in Formula 1 too, so to be able to work with him on this is an honor.  

In 2017, she became the first Spanish female driver to finish the Dakar Rally in the car category; she is also a six-time Female Champion of the Spanish all-terrain, off-road Rally Championship (CERTT).

In the words of the 29-year-old: “I am really excited to join X44. Not only will we get the opportunity to raise awareness of the climate crisis, which is very important to me, but I get to work with two heroes of mine

Sébastien Loeb is the most incredible rally driver of all time, so I’m really happy that I get to partner with him, and I hope to learn a lot. 

I’m a huge Formula 1 fan and have been watching Lewis race for years, so being asked to join his team is a dream come true.

The driver´s duo had the chance to test the ODYSSEY 21 at Donington Park Circuit off-road stages.

I drove in the car for the first time recently, and it was such a great experience; I can’t wait to see what it can do at each race.”

The first test of the series with the presence of all teams will take place in late December at MotorLand Aragón, Spain. 

Team owner Lewis Hamilton welcomed the drivers, stating: “I’m delighted to welcome Sébastien and Cristina to X44. They are both incredible drivers, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they’re going to do out there at each race. Cristina is an upcoming talent with a great future ahead of her, and Sébastien is a driver I have admired for so many years, so I’m so proud and excited to have them on board.”

In his 24-year career in motorsport, Loeb has continuously put his skill sets to the test in a series of racing competitions, claiming victories and podiums throughout a remarkable journey.

The curriculum of the man awarded with the Legion d’Honneur in 2009 is as extensive as eclectic.

Among the 46-year-old achievements are three Race of Champions victories (2003, 2005, and 2008) and a second-place finish at Le Mans 24 Hours. 

In 2016, Loeb made his first appearance at the World Rallycross Championship, driving a Peugeot 208 WRX, clinching a top-five overall result – which he would repeat in the next two following years, also adding two victories to his name.

2016 also marked his debut in the Dakar Rally car category – considered the toughest race in the world, alongside co-driver Daniel Elena and as part of Team Peugeot Total.  

By the end of the competition, the pair had conquered four stage wins and an impressive ninth place overall. 

Driver and co-driver would take part in the competition in 2017; they won five stages and finished in second place overall. 

In 2018, the duo retired due to an injury Elena suffered; in 2019, the comeback to the challenging race was sealed with a podium, as they finished third overall, winning four stages.

X44 has certainly picked a strong driver pairing, and I’m delighted to welcome possibly the greatest rally driver of all-time, Sébastien Loeb, and his teammate Cristina Gutiérrez, to the Extreme E family. The pair bring with them a wealth of off-road and rally experience, which will stand them in good stead when it comes to racing next year,” said Alejandro Agag, CEO, and Founder of Extreme E.

The first X-Prix will be host in March in Al-‘Ula, Saudi Arabia. Lac Rose, Senegal is the second stop in the calendar, scheduled for late in May; then, the series heads to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, arriving in August.

In October 2021, the journey continues at the Brazilian Amazon in Para, Brazil, and early in December, the series will celebrate the grand finale in Tierra del Fuego in Patagonia.

Images courtesy of Extreme E Media.

About Cecilia Demartini
Cecilia is a freelance Journalist passionate about motorsport and writing.
Her articles appeared in a variety of online publications.
Her knowledge goes from F1, F2, and F3 to other series such as MotoGP, IndyCar, Rally, WEC, and particularly Formula E.