More used to army tanks, Bovington in Dorset has been transformed into an international off-road track for Extreme E race cars and to highlight environmental issues, the race organisation is giving money to help reintroduce beavers in Studland.
The electric car race in Bovington, dubbed the Jurassic X Prix, starts with the qualifying rounds on Saturday 18th December 2021 with the final and end of season showdown on Sunday 19th December 2021.
The main contenders to take the championship are Rosberg X Racing and X44 teams.
Plenty of extreme mud on the track at Bovington as driver Sebastien Loeb from team X44 walks the course in wellies
Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Jensen Button
Extreme E is a new racing series, supported by racing drivers including Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Jensen Button, to bring international attention to the issues of climate change and environmental damage.
Electric SUVs compete in extreme environments around the world. This year, races have taken place in Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Greenland, Italy and now Bovington.
Hydrogen powers the event, while the cars are transported by boat and no spectators at the ground means that everyone watches the racing on TV
Huge emphasis on sustainability
This is car racing but with a huge emphasis on sustainability, promoting electric cars in what it calls, ‘a quest for a lower carbon future for the planet’.
The cars are transported around the world by boat – a large car ferry called St Helena and there’s no spectators to reduce the environmental footprint of the event. The idea is that people stay at home and watch it on TV.
Extreme E drivers and students from The Swanage School visit Studland and build a beaver den
Reintroducing beavers in Studland
At each location around the world, it gives money to help the local environment, so on Wednesday 15th December 2021, the drivers all went to Studland, not far from the race track, to learn about the National Trust’s project to reintroduce three pairs of beavers into the environment.
While not disclosing the actual amount of money, Extreme E says it is donating a substantial sum which will fund a third of the start-up costs of the reintroduction programme aimed at increasing biodiversity.
The UK Government has yet to formally licence the release of beavers in Studland but barring any last minute hitches, the National Trust hopes to get permission over the next year.
Teams from Extreme E, Purbeck National Trust and The Swanage School all highlighting the need to improve our local environment
Founder and CEO at Extreme E, Alejandro Agag
“Highlight the issues surrounding biodiversity in the UK“
Alejandro Agag, Founder and CEO at Extreme E, said:
“Through our Legacy Programme and the Jurassic X Prix, we aim to highlight the issues surrounding biodiversity in the UK. We are delighted that our work in Dorset will see us support the National Trust, who are planning to reintroduce beavers to the area.
“We have made it to the final race of the very first season, which will take place on MOD land at Bovington, and I think I speak for everyone at Extreme E when I say how proud I am of all that we’ve achieved this year, both on and off the course, with support for important projects such as this.”
The Swanage School students and Extreme E teams explore the environment at Studland
Students from The Swanage School
Students from The Swanage School were invited to the event in Studland. There was a presentation by the National Trust and Extreme E at the Knoll House Hotel, followed by a tour of Studland, including the chance to help build a beaver den.
There was also a chance for the students, who themselves are building an electric racing car, to chat to the drivers and find out more about how to get into a career in racing.
The Swanage School students get to ask questions to the Extreme E drivers
“Wow! It’s been a great experience“
The Swanage School headteacher, Jenny Maraspin said:
“Wow! It’s been a great experience. Some people may think there are less chances for our students living in Swanage but we make sure that we go looking for the opportunities to widen their horizons and today has definitely done that!
“We want to give our kids an all round education and coming here and meeting the racing teams and also all the marketing and media people gives them a real glimpse into different career choices.”
Girls from The Swanage School were invited to the FIA Girls on Track event at Bovington and got to watch some of the practice laps too!
Promotes female drivers
The race ethos also champions diversity and promotes female drivers. Each team has one male driver and one female, giving each an equal opportunity to take part.
On Thursday 16th December 2021, as the teams were undertaking practice laps, there was an event held to encourage girls into motorsport run by the FIA Girls on Track programme. This included girls from The Swanage School who were invited to take part.
More used to tanks, the course has been adapted for the electric cars
UK location instead of Argentina
Originally Extreme E had intended the final race of the season to take place in Argentina but with Covid restrictions the decision was made to find a UK location.
Richard ‘Sid’ James, formerly a lieutenant colonel in the UK Army and now the senior training safety officer for the Lulworth Ranges and Bovington Training Area said:
“It all started when I got an unexpected phone call from Extreme E’s founder and CEO Alejandro Agag, who asked if he could come to Bovington and look at the tank course.
“I have to admit that at the time I knew exactly nothing about Extreme E but I Googled it quickly and we organised to meet at the beginning of September at the Tank Museum in Bovington.
Senior training safety officer for the Lulworth Ranges and Bovington Training Area Richard ‘Sid’ James
Going over the knife edge at Bovington
“Too extreme for Extreme E!“
Numerous reccees took place and it was agreed that the final location for this season would be Bovington. Sid James added:
“Following discussions, we realised that the course was too extreme for Extreme E! Of course tanks create lots of deep ruts that were too deep for the racing cars. There is also the high bank that we call the knife edge and tanks have to climb up it and then go down very steeply – it’s very exciting!
“For the racing cars, we’ve had to reduce the height by about two metres and extend the landing area to make it more like a ski jump, so the cars can fly without destroying them – it’s really impressive!
“As far as other changes, we had to create a large area of flat land and we did that by calling in a local contractor Andrews and as part of a training exercise, the Royal Engineers helped out too.
“This will be a real legacy benefit as in future, we’ll use the area for bridge training. While the track has been smoothed out, our tanks will quickly churn it all up, once the race cars have gone – don’t worry about that!
“In terms of size, we’ve never had anything else like it at Bovington before. It is income generating and the timing was perfect – it’s at the end of our training year, so has fitted in well and created a real buzz in Bovington.”
Watch the practice sessions at Bovington
- The Jurassic X Prix can be watched on TV in the UK on ITV, Sky Sports, BBC digital channels and BT Sport on Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th December 2021.
- More about Extreme E is on its website or YouTube channel
The media and VIP areas are all in tents