Former Formula One World Champion Jenson Button boards on the ultimate racing venture, one motorsport has never seen before, the Extreme E Championship.
“JBXE has been a long time coming, and I’m both delighted and proud to announce its formation and entry into the inaugural Extreme E Championship,” said the Briton.
By launching his team (JBXE), the 41-year-old starts a new chapter in his racing career as he will also be one of the team’s two drivers.
“In Extreme E, they’ve created a product that will offer first-class racing and entertainment to the fans, but also serves to highlight the impact of climate change. Whilst we will, of course, compete to win on track, as a collective, we will also work to maximize awareness while racing in places that have been damaged or affected by climate change over the years.”
The electric SUV off-road racing series will run in five remote locations on the planet, aiming to raise awareness about climate change while bringing the best out of the motorsport world.
He further explains: “On track, I’m delighted to say there are some world-class opponents to go wheel-to-wheel with, and Extreme E is a world-first which sees true equality with male and female drivers both as teammates and as opponents out on track.
“On that note, I still have the exciting task of appointing and announcing my co-driver, which will take place in the coming weeks, and then all focus will turn to the opening race in Saudi Arabia.”
The second stop in the calendar will be Lac Rose, in Senegal – the Ocean X-Prix, scheduled in May; then, the series heads to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, where the Arctic X-Prix in August.
In October 2021, the action continues with the Amazon X-Prix in Para, Brazil, and from 11-12 December, the series celebrates the season grand finale, the Glacier X-Prix in Patagonia, Argentina.
Commenting on the newest addition to the championship, Alejandro Agag Extreme E Founder and CEO, said: “I’m thrilled to welcome another major name in the world of motorsport in Jenson Button. He is one of the most popular drivers in the business, and Extreme E will give him the opportunity to live out one of his long-held passions, to compete at the highest level in off-road racing.
“Jenson, alongside his peers, will give further weight to our mission to raise awareness of the global climate crisis while doing what we love – racing. It’s going to be fantastic to see the biggest names in motorsport on the starting line in Saudi Arabia in April – it is set to be an incredible form of entertainment, but with a strong and purposeful message around our planet.”
JBXE, the tenth team to join the grid of Extreme E’s inaugural campaign – a series officially certified by the International Automobile Federation (FIA), will compete against some of the most solid forces in motorsport.
KNOW THE TEAMS
The teams to align in Extreme E’s first Season are Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) and Andretti United Extreme E.
2016 Formula One World Champion Nico Rosberg and seven-time Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton also join the series with their respective teams, Rosberg Xtreme Racing (RXR) and Team X44.
Three-time Dakar Rally Champion Carlos Sainz owns the first fully Spanish team of the competition, and as well as Button, he will also be at the wheel of the ODYSSEY 21.
ABT CUPRA XE, Hispano Suiza SUIZA Xite Energy Team, Veloce Racing, and Team TECHEETAH complete the field.
DRIVERS LINE UP
Promoting gender equality is among Extreme E set of distinctive features.
In that regard, each team will have a male and a female driver´s line up competing as a driver and co-driver in every two-lap race.
Chip Ganassi Racing – the first team to announce its driver’s duo, will contest the championship with six-time Pro-4 Short Course Off-Road Champion Kyle LeDuc and Off-road Truck Champion and X Games Medalist Sara Price.
Motorsport legend Sébastien Loeb joins Cristina Gutierrez – who became the first Spanish female driver and the second woman to win a stage since 2005 on the Rally Dakar in 2021 – will be at the wheel of the electric challenger, representing Team X44.
“El Matador” Carlos Sainz has teamed up with five-time Enduro World Champion Laia Sanz, who recently took on and finished her 11th consecutive Dakar Rally after a challenging 2020 in which she contracted Lyme Disease.
Veloce Racing driver´s duo features two-time Le Mans Series winner Stéphane Sarrazin and W Series Champion Jamie Chadwick.
Andretti United Extreme E has confirmed FIA World Rallycross Champion Timmy Hansen and British Catie Munnings to drive for the American team in its inaugural season.
ABT CUPRA XE signed multiple DTM and FIA World Rally champion Mattias Ekström and Claudia Hürtgen.
Notably, in 2005 Hürtgen won the VLN Endurance Championship, making her the first female to do so since 1998.
Rosberg Xtreme Racing (RXR) announced Australian Rally Champion Molly Taylor – an ambassador for FIA Girls on Track, to drive alongside three-time World Rallycross champion Johan Kristoffersson for the team’s first electric racing venture.
Former motocross rider Oliver Bennett, and off-road racer Christine Giampaoli Zonca – an expert on off-road races and winner of the women’s category in the Spanish Gravel Rally Championship, will serve as drivers for the HISPANO SUIZA XITE ENERGY TEAM.
JBXE is yet to announced its female driver.
At the time of writing, Team Techeetah has not unveiled its driver´s pairing.
All outfits will use the same spec-vehicle, the E-SUV ODYSSEY 21.
Williams Advanced Engineering is producing the battery that powers the E-SUVs, while Spark Racing Technology is responsible for the design of the off-road, all-terrain, electric vehicles.
The electric SUV also features a niobium-reinforced steel alloy tubular frame and purpose-built tyres.
Furthermore, the vehicles will be using zero-emission energy to charge the fleet, thanks to a partnership with AFC Energy.
As part of its innovative structure, the series becomes the first event organizer to utilize hydrogen, a fuel cell power generator, for charging.
Images courtesy: Extreme E Media.