Arriving at Bovington Camp, a military base in Dorset, for the finale of the inaugural season of electric off-road series Extreme E, the lack of noise is the first indication that this is international motorsport done differently. When the nine fully electric 550bhp Odyssey 21 SUVs enter the arena, it is in large part to the sound of wet mud displaced by exclusive tyre supplier Continental’s Extreme E tyre, which is based on the German manufacturer’s CrossContact range. Primarily targeting a broadcast and internet audience, the teams, event staff, and small number of attendees on-site mingle under canvas, watching most of the action from the circuit unfold on big screens. During the races, teams complete the switch between the male and female drivers – another indicator of how Extreme E approaches motorsport differently – in front of this area.
In mid-March Jenson Button’s JBXE Extreme E team announced who will be racing electric SUVs alongside the former Formula 1 world champion. He will be sharing the cockpit of his Odyssey 21 with Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky. In recent years, the Swedish driver has successfully competed in the Scirocco R-Cup Germany and in the rallycross discipline. In 2015, she took part in the newly established Audi Sport TT Cup. She also started in the junior classification of the ADAC GT Masters in 2016 and in the Audi Sport Racing Academy in 2017, before switching to the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship in 2018, where she made history as the first and only woman ever to win races in that series.
Testing for the Extreme E off-road electric racing series began earlier this month at the Château de Lastours off-road proving grounds in the south of France. One question the tested aimed to answer during proceedings was how well the car and tyres work together. They also looked into any potential weaknesses in the electric race car’s physical and technical design, not least in its motor. The tests lasted several days and were run by Continental, tyre supplier to Extreme E, and Spark Racing Technology.
The two Continental tyre types specially developed for the Extreme E off-road racing series have made their global debut at Goodwood Festival of Speed. Designed for the world’s toughest driving conditions, the new summer and winter tyres were presented to the public along with the electric SUV on which they are to tackle some of the most extreme locations across the globe.
Swedish touring car racer Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky has been selected to test the new tyres Continental is developing for the Extreme E rally series. Åhlin-Kottulinsky, the first and to-date only woman to win a race in the TCR Scandinavia Touring Car Championship, will lend her talents towards the development of tyres for what Continental calls “the most extreme racing series the world has ever seen.”