Hispano Suiza Xite Energy Team will join the field for the inaugural Extreme E season, taking the place of HWA, which has withdrawn from the all-electric off-road series for “economic and strategic reasons”.
Oliver Bennett and Christine Giampaoli Zonca will drive for the Spanish team, which carries on a competitive legacy for the Hispano Suiza name that stretches back to its three consecutive wins in the George Boillot Cup endurance race a century ago.
The team will be led by Juli Mundet Caballero, whose career includes R&D and competition roles at the Nissan Technical Center, and more recently, the High Energy Physics Institute in Barcelona. Since 2010 he has served as a race engineer in various competitions, including the FIA World Rallycross Championship.
“Driving a Hispano Suiza is within the reach of very few people around the world, and I am delighted to be able to drive the most extreme of all, the HS Extreme E,” said Bennett, who is transitioning into off-road competition from rallycross. “This is a championship in which we will be required to push to show our full potential at every race, but at the same time we will be able to fight to make our planet a better place. I am sure that this is just the beginning of a great adventure for all of us.”
Giampaoli Zonca won regional class championships in the Canary Islands before making her WRC debut in 2016 at Rally de Catalunya as a member of the first all-female rally team, and won the women’s category of the Spanish Gravel Rally Championship in the same year. Since 2017, her career has been focused on participating in off-road races, in the United States and Mexico, where she achieved seventh place in famous Baja 1000 in the Pro UTV Turbo category. In 2020 she became the main driver of Avatel Racing Team, achieving third place in the T2 category in the Andalucia Road to Dakar Rally.
“We are going to compete with a very powerful vehicle that represents the future of the automotive industry, 100% electric,” she said.
“We also have the opportunity to raise awareness about climate change by showing that you can race in some of the most remote places in the world without polluting the planet. I am extremely happy to share a car with Oliver: he is a great driver; I have followed his career for a while now and I am sure that we are going to complement each other perfectly. Now I’m just looking forward to racing and doing my best for our team.”
HWA was one of the first three teams to commit to the series, but according to a statement from the series, has withdrawn its entry due to uncertainty and global economic instability “mainly driven by the global pandemic”, which has led to “a focused company strategy based on committed projects.
“The HWA team remains convinced about the mission of Extreme E and its message for sustainable motorsport, and will stay in close discussions with the whole Extreme E team with the goal of becoming a competitor once again in the near future.”