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Extreme E becomes latest event win for Saudi Arabia

Alejandro Agag watches Formula E's Marrakesh E-prix (by Sam Bagnall/Motorsport Images via Getty Images)

Extreme E, the new motor racing championship being developed using electric SUVs, has announced Saudi Arabia as its third race location.

The Middle Eastern country will host the Desert leg of the electric rally series, which is set to debut in 2021, with a number of potential routes currently being examined. Alejandro Agag, founder and chief executive of Extreme E, made the announcement today (Thursday) alongside HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, chairman of the Saudi Arabia General Sports Authority, and HRH Prince Khaled Bin Sultan Bin Abdullah Al Faisal, president of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation, during the Future Investment Initiative forum in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

“One of the major cornerstones of this revolutionary championship is that we will race across terrains and environments that will push the world’s top drivers, teams and engineers to their absolute limits,” Agag said.

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“For our Desert location, we are taking a real leap into uncharted territory. Heading to Saudi Arabia, home of the world’s largest continuous sand desert among a multitude of extraordinary environments in which to race, gives us unbelievable scope to create an unprecedented challenge for our competitors.”

Today’s news marks yet another event win for Saudi Arabia, which has been targeting the sports events market as part of Vision 2030, the strategic plan seeking to diversify Saudi Arabia’s interests away from the oil sector. Earlier this week, Amaury Sports Organisation, the group behind the Tour de France and the Dakar Rally, announced that it will organise a new cycling race in Saudi Arabia, with the inaugural edition taking place next year.

Agag has existing ties to Saudi Arabia through the Formula E series, of which he is now chairman. In May 2018, Saudi Arabia agreed a 10-year deal with Formula E to stage the electric street racing series’ first race in the Middle East.

Extreme E five-race global calendar aims to highlight the impact of climate change and human interference on some of the most remote locations in the world, as well as serving to promote the adoption of electric vehicles in the fight to help preserve the environment and protect the planet.

Greenland has already been confirmed to host the Arctic stage and the Amazon Rainforest in Para, Brazil, the Rainforest round. An Ocean location and a route in the Himalayas are currently being scouted, with Season One to get underway in February 2021.

Extreme E events will take place over three days, within an area no larger than 10 square kilometres. Routes will be designed to incorporate existing obstacles and features with elevation changes and jumps, without the need to adapt the environment. Carlo Boutagy, chief executive of CBX, official promoter of Formula E’s Diriyah E-Prix, will also be the official race promoter of the inaugural Saudi Arabian Extreme E event.

HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal Al Saud said: “Welcoming Extreme E to Saudi Arabia is the perfect opportunity for the country to strengthen the sporting pillar of its Vision 2030 – delivering world-class electric motorsport to the desert.

“Of equal importance is the benefit we will reap from this partnership in creating a lasting legacy, not only for motorsport in the Kingdom but for the protection of our unique ecosystems. Extreme E is a revolutionary global spectacle and one that everyone in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will be able to enjoy, with benefits that transcend beyond the sporting appeal to generate a positive impact in wider society.”