From the ashes, Alejandro Agag brought to us Extreme E (XE) after starting Formula E few years back. The prospects and the idea of the new offroad Rallycross-like racing series with electric SUVs were and are very exciting.
Along with this excitement from that, came names like Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Jenson Button, Sebastian Loeb to the reigning World RX champion Johan Kristoffersson. 2021 would be an exciting year for all rally fans and motorsports fans who wanted to get into some dirty action.
Soon questions about the race format, “the gimmicks” (Gridplay - similar to Formula E’s fanboost where fans vote to give their favourite driver extra power for a certain time, this makes it seem like a popularity contest) and other criticisms arose.
Saturday, 3rd April came and we were pumped for the start of the inaugural season of XE. Being the first race weekend, the Qualifying run order was set randomly and the gender-balanced team of drivers set out to fight it out and get a decent lap time on the board, to say the least.
Boy oh boy, was the first qualifying session (Q1) exciting. The benchmark was set by the duo of Sebastian Loeb and Christina Gutierrez, Catie Munnings had a spectacular drive after she got a puncture managing to control the car ( Odyssey 21) to the finish line, the roll by Sarrazin that got us shaking, the pure pace of the duo of Johan Kristofferson and more so Molly Taylor to the shocking roll of Claudia Hurtgen.
The second qualifying session (Q2) was less dramatic and this brought to light some issues the XE broadcast team need to fix. We missed Molly Taylor’s lap because they opted to show us highlights of the prior runs despite her being the Q1 star. Fans were also confused if the times from Q1 would be added to that of Q2 and if so why was the timing sheet not including the aggregated time. It also became clear that the sessions were not really live but this is understandable since the race locations are in remote places but the execution had much to desire.
It was evident that during the race, whose format was very confusing, the first few metres would matter a lot due to the Desert X Prix being sandy and the Odyssey 21 kicking it up in the air. The assumptions came true when during the semi-final, the cars behind the lead driver struggled with vision and were soon running over 30 seconds behind. During another race session, the blindness in driving caused a massive crash and all this left fans rather underwhelmed.
Being a series that wishes to have some wheel-to-wheel racing, this was a very boring start (to the race part - not qualifying) but only a start it was. The next couple of locations seem exciting on paper and XE Twitter quickly pointed this out. It seems that only the Arctic X Prix will have a similar scenario to that we experienced this weekend but with snow instead.
Despite sounding negative throughout this piece, this was just the first race in an inaugural season, Extreme E can and should only have an upward trajectory from here. Improve their onscreen graphics, iron out broadcasting issues and resolve the other issues, that will make us hardcore and casual motorsport fans loyal to the racing series.
You can watch this video for a brief introduction to the series:
Till next time, you can find me on Twitter, peace.