The Seat brand Cupra is entering the electric off-road racing series Extreme E with ABT Sportsline. Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton recently founded his own racing team called X44 that will debut in racing series.
The first round of the Extreme E, called X-Prix, is scheduled to take place in early 2021. The electric races are planned in five remote locations – Arctic, desert, rain forest, glacier and coast to raise environmental awareness.
Teaming up with ABT Sportsline, Cupra is the first automobile manufacturer now starting in the new racing series. ABT’s involvement in the Extreme E has been clear since July 2019 but was seen by many as an advance guard for Audi’s later entry, as has been the case in Formula E. But now another brand from the UK group Cupra is competing teaming up with the German company.
Both players are well-known figures in the racing circuit and have been on the electrification course there for some time now. Cupra is thus preparing its participation from the purely electric multi-brand touring car championship PURE ETCR, also planned for next year. Among other things, ABT has been represented in the racing series since the debut of Formula E in 2014. In addition, both partners know each other from their existing cooperation for the refinement of various road models.
“The decision to become the first automotive manufacturer to participate in the competition and reinforce our cooperation with ABT is proof of both partners’ shared vision of reinventing the world of high-performance cars through electrification,” said Dr Werner Tietz, Seat’s Director of Research and Development, at the official announcement in Hamburg. Among other things, the off-road racing car in Cupra/ABT design was on display there.
The Extreme E is driven with standard cars. The ‘Odyssey 21’, manufactured by Spark Racing Technology, accelerates to 100 kph in 4.5 seconds and, importantly for off-road use, can handle gradients of up to 130 per cent. Each team always consists of a male and a female driver who take turns in the cockpit. The Cupra and ABT Sportsline team’s male driver will be the two-time DTM champion Mattias Ekström, while the racing team has yet to reveal who his female counterpart will be.
At each of the five events of the Extreme E, drivers have to get through several gates on an approximately eight-kilometre long off-road course. The male and female drivers will each have to complete one lap. Each event consists of two race days: Saturday will be the qualifying races, Sunday the semi-finals and finals. The plan is for the racing series to be completely climate-neutral by the end of its first season.