The organisers of the all-electric, off-road rally championship Extreme E have announced that a hydrogen-powered counterpart – Extreme H – will be launched in 2024.
Extreme E, founded in 2018 as a competitive showcase for silhouette electric SUVs, attempts to raise awareness for climate change but also attempt to support local communities at each of its race locations as part of its ‘Legacy Program.’ Interestingly, the series also promotes gender equality in motor racing and requires each car feature both a male and female driver, both of which share equal driving time.
Now, Extreme E founder Alejandro Agag, who also established the all-electric Formula E single seater series, has confirmed plans for a sister series to be launched in 2024, one that utilizes the electric series’ Odyssey 21 racer, albeit with the battery replaced by a hydrogen fuel cell.
“Green hydrogen sources,” which draw power using solar and water, and are already used to power Extreme E’s race weekend paddocks, will provide the energy source for the fuel cells.
Development of the hydrogen cell-equipped Odyssey 21 is said to already be underway, with a prototype expected to be launched in early 2023.
“Extreme E was designed to be a testbed for innovation and solutions for mobility,” Mr Agag explains in an official statement. “It has become increasingly clear to us that creating a hydrogen racing series is a natural evolution of our mission to showcase the possibilities of new technologies in the race to fight climate issues.
“Together with the current Extreme E teams we will decide in the coming months the best way to integrate the hydrogen-powered cars into the racing weekend. Two separate categories, full transition to hydrogen, or joint racing are all options on the table.
“Extreme E is an FIA international series and our intention is to work closely again with the FIA and the Automobile Club de Monaco on the development of Extreme H. Sport is the fastest and most effective platform for driving innovation, and by using the existing Extreme E platform we can also utilise our transport, talent and operations to ensure we are minimizing footprint in the process. This effectively means we can have double the race action, with marginal additional impact.”
In 2024, Extreme H will be organized at the same venues as Extreme E with a similar weekend format, one that involves free practice and qualifying ahead of a 20-minute (ish) off-road race.
The inaugural Extreme E season featured five distinct rounds in Saudi Arabia (Desert), Senegal (Ocean), Greenland (Arctic), Sardinia (Island) and the UK (… Jurassic?), with four-time FIA World Rallycross champion Johan Kristoffersson and 2016 Australian Rally champion Molly Taylor emerging victorious overall.
For 2021, Extreme E boasted teams launched by Formula 1 World Champions Lewis Hamilton (X44), Nico Rosberg (Rosberg R Racing) and Jenson Button (JBXE), as well as two-time World Rally Champion Carlos Sainz. They have been joined for the 2022 season by McLaren and Spanish supercar independent, Hispano-Suiza.