Chip Ganassi Racing has announced its entry into Extreme E, becoming the second major American team to commit to the pioneering new electric SUV off-road racing series, following Andretti Autosport’s confirmation of its plans last month.
The team founded and helmed by former racer Chip Ganassi celebrates its 30th anniversary this year and has claimed 19 major championships and more than 220 race wins across a wide variety of motorsport disciplines – from IndyCar to NASCAR and sports cars in IMSA and the FIA World Endurance Championship, as well as rallycross. Extreme E will mark the team’s debut in electric motorsports, however.
“Extreme E is a very different proposition to anything we have done before, but it’s where I think motor racing is headed in the future,” said Chip Ganassi. “When I started our team in 1990, one of the founding principles I built it on was innovation. I’ve always been passionate about pushing the boundaries of what is possible, and Extreme E checks that box for us in a big way.
“It represents an opportunity in motor racing to use the latest technologies to attract a new, younger audience to this great sport of ours. Everything about Extreme E is cool, from the car to the race format and the in-built technology. We’re thrilled to join the championship and to play a part in developing the future of our sport.”
Extreme E founder and CEO Alejandro Agag said: “It’s fantastic to be able to confirm Chip Ganassi Racing’s participation in Extreme E, marking this hugely successful team’s progression into electric racing.
“CGR boasts a tremendous heritage and pedigree in motorsport, achieving consistent success over three decades in some of the toughest single-seater and sports car series around. Of course, our championship poses a very different kind of challenge, but the team has proven itself to be a winner in every discipline it has contested and clearly possesses the skill set to similarly excel in Extreme E.
“And then, of course, there is the competitive edge with Andretti Autosport, who we announced last month — and it will be fascinating to see how that plays out. These two teams have engaged in some truly classic duels over the years, and we look forward to many more to come in the unique environments that Extreme E will visit.
“As a leader, Chip Ganassi has never been afraid to innovate and adapt – indeed, he has won awards for his visionary, future-thinking approach – and that is entirely in keeping with the ethos behind our ambitious and groundbreaking new series, which he was very quick to embrace. I am confident that his team will add great value to Extreme E in our drive to propagate the environmental message and engineer long-lasting change through first-class sporting entertainment.”
The five competitive events on the 2021 Extreme E schedule will be staged in some of the most remarkable, remote and severely damaged locations on the planet, including Kangerlussuaq in Greenland, the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil, Al-‘Ula in Saudi Arabia and Lac Rose near Dakar, Senegal.
Issues to be highlighted along the way include escalating carbon emissions, global warming and melting Arctic ice, rising sea levels, droughts and desertification, deforestation and plastic pollution. The championship recently announced a highly established Scientific Committee of Oxford and Cambridge University academic experts who specialise in these climate areas and will advise its education and research work.
Each leg of Extreme E’s five-race odyssey will feature two days of intense, head-to-head knockout competition around 10-kilometer circuits. Drawing upon the help of independent experts, track designers will carefully select course options to provide the most challenging, exciting action while aiming to minimize impact from environmental and social perspectives.
The series announced last week that each team will be composed of a male and a female driver, competing together in every two-lap race as driver and co-driver. Each will complete one lap behind the wheel of the ODYSSEY 21 electric-SUV, with a changeover incorporated into the race format, and it will be up to the teams to determine driver and co-driver to best suit their strategy.
All teams are set to take delivery of their ODYSSEY 21 E-SUVs towards the end of this year, with a group test of the vehicles to be held shortly thereafter.