Extreme E, the off-road racing series for electric-powered vehicles, opened its second season this past weekend in Saudi Arabia, with defending champion Rosberg X Racing winning the event.
However, the bigger news may have come before the racing resumed, when organizers announced the addition of a hydrogen-powered racing series, Extreme H, to start in 2024.
“Extreme H, it will sit alongside Extreme E, its existing electric racing series, and will be a world-first for motorsport,” the announcement noted.
“It has become increasingly clear to us that creating a hydrogen racing series is a natural evolution of our mission to showcase the possibilities of new technologies in the race to fight climate issues,” said series founder Alejandro Agag.
“Together with the current Extreme E Teams we will decide in the coming months the best way to integrate the Hydrogen powered cars into the racing weekend. Two separate categories, full transition to Hydrogen or joint racing are all options on the table.
“By using the existing Extreme E platform we can also utilize our transport, talent and operations to ensure we are minimizing footprint in the process. This effectively means we can have double the race action, with marginal additional impact.”
The Extreme H car will retain the same powertrain and chassis used in Extreme E. The key differentiating factor in Extreme H will be that a hydrogen fuel cell will replace the battery as the principal energy source.
As with the electricity currently being used to propel the Extreme E cars, Extreme H will use hydrogen produced by harnessing solar and water power, officials said.
Peter Wadhams, head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group at the University of Cambridge and a member of the Extreme E scientific committee, was quoted as pointing out that, “at the COP-26 meeting in Glasgow last November there was a positive crowd of hydrogen vehicles, demonstrating the potential of this energy source, especially for larger vehicles. There was a bus, an ambulance, a JCB digger and several trucks.
“In amongst them,” he added, was the McLaren Extreme E electric car.”
In the meantime, electric batteries empower the Extreme E racers, which opened the 2022 season at NEOM, Saudi Arabia, where Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky and Johan Kristoffersson took the victory after the initial finale was stopped by a red flag after Tanner Foust of McLaren XE clipped the back of the RXR car and rolled his Odyssey 21. Racing resumed under a 1-lap shootout format, with Kristoffersson taking the victory after resuming in third place.
From a 10-second deficit, Kristoffersson passed X44’s Cristina Gutiérrez on the inside and the chased after Laia Sanz of Acciona/Sainz XE, taking a wide outside line in the second-to-last corner and completing the pass from that position.
Acciona/Sainz XE was second with X44 third, ahead of Chip Ganassi Racing.
The season resumes May 7-8 on the Italian island of Sardinia.