Monday, October 18, 2021

Preparations ramp up for Extreme E’s Arctic X Prix

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Extreme E’s Arctic X Prix in Greenland is just under two months’ away and the series’ operations team have just completed their latest recce to the race site in Kangerlussuaq as preparations continue for the very first motorsport event to ever take place in the country.

James Taylor, Chief Championship Officer, Extreme E, said: “It has been a fantastic trip out to Greenland and the team continues to work closely with the Greenlandic Government, the people of Kangerlussuaq and our production partners to ensure we can put on a truly spectacular event.

“I’m really excited by this X Prix for a variety of reasons: bringing the very first motorsport event to Greenland, working with UNICEF to educate youngsters on climate change, the breathtaking landscape and the racing it will offer, plus of course the fact we will be at the heart of the climate crisis, where you can see with your own eyes the devastation being caused by global warming.

“I can’t wait to return in August and use our racing platform to educate on measures we can, and must, all take to help against the biggest challenge of our time – climate change.”

Whilst there, the team has been looking at the operational and logistical aspects, but also the race course itself, set to provide another weekend of thrilling racing. Championship Driver Timo Scheider was also in Greenland with the task of developing the course, alongside the sporting team, which will run on the edge of the Russell Glacier taking in a mixture of terrains including rocks, boulders, glacial sediment and sand dunes.  

Timo Scheider, Extreme E’s Championship Driver, said: “I was really, really excited to go to Greenland as it’s one of the few places in the world I haven’t seen so far, and after facing the glacier so close and more or less touching it, it was pretty special for me, and also racing right next to it was an outstanding feeling.

“The course will include elements which we have haven’t seen so far in Extreme E, so that’s why I’m excited to see again what the drivers will see and how they will like it. It’s different in terms of innovation and the surface we have, so we will face some areas with sand, gravel, stones and even drops, which will be exciting for everyone. I’m really looking forward to the race weekend.”

Although the course will provide a stunning backdrop for racing, the area wasn’t chosen just for its picturesque views, it was chosen to highlight the climate crisis, particularly as part of the course itself is on an area that has retreated due to climate change.

Thanks to scientific research, some of which has been carried out by Extreme E’s Scientific Committee members, it is understood that the Arctic is warming at three times the global average rate due to climate change, leading to the accelerated disappearance of Arctic sea ice. NASA estimates that the mass of pack ice each September, at its summer minimum, has fallen by an average of 12.8 per cent in each decade over the last 40 years.

Professor Peter Wadhams, Head of Extreme E’s Scientific Committee, said: “The loss of sea ice has serious implications for the climate of the planet. But even more serious in many ways is what we will be investigating in Greenland – the accelerating melt of ice from the Greenland ice sheet, which is leading to a much faster rise in global sea levels.

“The ice sheet is melting at a record rate in summer. When we were last in Kangerlussuaq in August two years ago we encountered a record loss of ice from the ice sheet in a single day – 12.5 billion tons of water melted and of course ended up in the ocean, causing faster sea level rise.

“This record may get beaten this year, given the extraordinary air temperatures which we have been experiencing. The melt, and the rise in sea level, are accelerated even more by the fact that the ice surface is dirty with sediment, dust and plankton. This is left behind when the ice crystals melt, to produce what is called “black ice”, which absorbs radiations very effectively. We will be studying the origin and nature of black ice and its power to speed up ice melt.”

Greenland is lesser known as a tourist destination, but it attracts adventure travellers looking to experience ancient ice in all grandeur and forms, contrasting nature like midnight sun and northern lights, wildlife and Greenlandic culture. It offers a plethora of activities including hiking, snowmobiling, kayaking, ski touring, boat tours and much, much more. As a country, it is also thinking ahead when it comes to sustainability and e-mobility with nearly one fifth of motor vehicles being electric or hybrid, and the country also produces much of its own energy with the aim of increasing its renewable energy output from 70 to 100 per cent by 2030. Both these things are very much in line with Extreme E, a series racing all-electric SUVs and utilising innovative technologies from hydrogen fuel cells for car charging to second-life batteries to power the paddock to be as sustainable as possible.

Hjörtur Smárason, CEO at Visit Greenland, said: “Extreme E is a perfect match for Greenland. The innovative mindset and focus on sustainability fits how Greenland aims to develop as a tourism destination. With its grand glaciers and the Ice Sheet, Greenland offers a­­­­­­­­­­ chance to explore climate change in action, giving guests an opportunity to unplug into nature and experience pure silence in an otherwise busy world.” 

While in-country the series will continue its work with UNICEF, a collaboration which sees educational materials focussing on climate change being developed for youngsters in Greenland. This is part of championship’s Legacy Programme which aims to leave a long-lasting positive impact in each and every country it races in. Some of the biggest names in motorsport including Carlos Sainz Snr., Sébastien Loeb, Catie Munnings and Molly Taylor will be in Greenland for the Arctic X Prix which is from 28 – 29 August and can be watched via a host of global broadcasters including ITV, Sky Sports, BT Sport and BBC digital channels in the UK, Eurosport in Europe and FOX Sports in America. Click here for the full list.

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