In a strange twist, Bovington in Dorset has been selected as one of the international destinations for a unique motor racing series, televised by the BBC, which pits electric sportscars against each other in ‘extreme environments’.
Greenland, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, the Amazon and… Dorset, promoted in lavish publicity by the jigsaw-piece Jurassic coastline, for the Extreme E event that aims to put the spotlight on electric-powered vehicles.
Well, the Amazon, despite an expensive scoping trip was cancelled and replaced with Sardinia. Bovington was asked to step in for Argentina – because of concerns over Covid – as the series finale.
The sport pits electric SUVs against each other in ‘extreme’ locations from Sengal to… Bovington
Motor racing with a message
But don’t rush to Bovington to watch. The Jurassic X Prix takes place on Ministry of Defence land. Spectators can only watch these events online, with the Dorset event taking place from Saturday 18th to Sunday 19th December 2021.
Extreme E is very much motor racing with a message. It is promoting electric vehicles as a ‘clean’ alternative to oil-based fuels, as part of the drive for a ‘lower carbon future for the planet’.
The championship cars are all of one design, a fully electric sport utility vehicle (SUV), named ODYSSEY 21. The batteries are specially designed and developed by Williams Advanced Engineering.
The St Helena transports the cars between destinations
Cars travel from one event to another on a ‘floating paddock’ – the St Helena ship – to ensure the greenest mode of transport.
But it doesn’t stop there. The global adventure, which began in March 2021 and has teams owned by big motor racing names like Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, is also billed as the first ‘fully gender equal motorsport’. It features British drivers Catie Munnings and Jamie Chadwick amongst its female talent.
Catie Munnings is one of the female drivers competing on equal terms
“Happening in our backyards”
The event is accompanied by a glossy website and full range of media images of previous races.
Alejandro Agag, Extreme E founder and chief executive, says Bovington will be the sport’s first event on UK soil. The event follows this month’s COP26 climate summit of world leaders in Glasgow.
“This move is a poignant shift in our mission to race in remote, far-away places to highlight the effects of climate change, as more increasingly, the issues we talk about are literally happening in our backyards”
Fron the sunny beaches of Senegal to the cold Arctic Circle of Greenland
“Help the army”
Extreme E is working closely with the Ministry of Defence which like many organisations is currently grappling with strategies to push forward ‘sustainability’.
By coming to Bovington, the sport will ‘help the army reduce its own carbon footprint’.
The sport promotes the idea of ‘clean’ electric power that works in all climates
Efforts have already started with the Army piloting electric armoured vehicles and developing ‘carbon efficient’ accommodation.
Major General Simon Hutchings said:
“The British Army prides itself on its ability to conduct operations in all environments, adapting and developing its skills as required.
“It will enable us to share innovative ideas which will allow the Army to continue to gain technology advantage globally, whilst also contributing to our climate and sustainability targets.”
The Amazon was dropped from the schedule but Saudi Arabia was one of the five destinations
“Totally different experience”
Road transport is said to account for 75 percent of all transport’s global carbon dioxide emissions, so pushing electric powered vehicles is one of the UK government’s goals.
Among those supporting the initiative is racing champion Jenson Button, who said:
“Heading off-road at Bovington will be a totally different experience.”
This time he will be watching and supporting the drivers for his JBXE team.
The cars may run on electricity but the teams celebrate in traditional motor racing style
Hugh Chambers, who is the chief executive of Motorsport UK, the national governing body for motorsport, says the event will bring into focus challenges for the sport like ‘environmental concerns and equality, diversity and inclusion’.
Extreme E is streamed live across BBC platforms, including iPlayer, Red Button and the BBC Sport website as well as other channels.
Bovington prepares to be the finale of the Extreme E season.