Extreme E's winning formula
The stage in Chile is the fourth in the second season of Extreme E, which is the brainchild of Alejandro Agag, a major player in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship. Extreme E is an Eco Rally that combines adrenaline, fun and a passion for motorsports with raising awareness about the environment and energy sustainability. This year’s Extreme E championship began in Saudi Arabia with the Desert X Prix on February 19-20 2022, and then moved on to Sardinia in Italy, where the two Island Prix X Prix events were held on July 6-7 and 9-10. This year’s edition features 10 teams, with a total of 20 drivers. Some of them are genuine motorsport legends, such as Carlos Sainz, a double World Rally Champion and three-time winner of the Paris-Dakar and nine-time FIA World Rally Champion Sébastien Loeb. The teams are mixed, reflecting the importance to the competition of gender equality: each vehicle is driven by a man and a woman, who will put themselves to the test in the qualifying sessions on the Saturday, while on the Sunday three semifinals will be held, leading up to the decisive challenge between the best two teams. The action can be followed in Italy on Channel 20, DAZN and Sportmediaset.it. The team owners also include some huge names from motorsport past and present, such as Nico Rosberg, Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton.
The vehicles used for the championship are electric SUVs produced by Williams Advanced Technology, and their bodywork has been customized by each team. The vehicles are powered by two 340 CV electric units, with a peak capacity of 550 CV and a maximum torque of 920Nm fed by a 40 kWh battery. All this provides notable performance: the vehicles can go from 0 to 100KM/h in just 4.5 seconds and can climb inclines of 130% on various types of terrain.
Racing in an extreme natural environment
These capabilities will be called into action to tackle the extreme conditions of the Chilean stage. The race, which is called the “Copper X Prix,” will take place in the heart of the Atacama Desert, the world’s most arid place. Here the climatic conditions and lack of water will really put the drivers and mechanics to the test. This area, which is situated to the north of the capital Santiago, has historical links with the mining industry. Since the middle of the 19th century, it has become an important center for copper mining, a sector that has recently embarked on a journey of innovation and sustainability. Copper mines feature prominently in the region’s economy and landscape: just think that the world’s three most important copper mines are all located within 50 km of Calama, a small mining town located on the Loa River in an extremely arid region.
The Extreme E race track is located here, around one hour from Calama, near Antofagasta Minerals’ Centinela mine. The terrain is made up of soft material covered in fragments of rock of various dimensions on which the route has been laid out, with frequent ups and downs, fast, open corners and straights, as well as tight bends.
Sustainability in pole position
An Explorer Lounge is being set up on the site of the race route and it incarnates Extreme E’s sustainability principles. The Explorer Lounge is a non-invasive structure that can be constructed, utilized and removed without causing any lasting damage to the environment and is largely made of wood and recycled materials. At the end of the event nothing will be left on the site, as everything will be recycled or repurposed. To further reduce the environmental impact, all of the vehicles and facilities for the various Extreme E events are transported between stages on board the St. Elena. This ship has been completely renovated to incorporate technologies to boost efficiency and make her more environmentally friendly.
Indeed, the environment, conserving the planet and the fight against global warming are key issues for Extreme E, which is investing in the idea that electric mobility can be a decisive factor in bringing about change.
Enel X Way's charging solutions
Extreme E legacy: protecting biodiversity
When it comes to biodiversity, Chile is a veritable treasure chest: of the 5,100 species of flora and fauna present in the country, more than 2,500 are endemic, that is, they are found nowhere else in the world. In spite of the fact that the Atacama Desert is an extremely arid and seemingly inhospitable place, it is also a key component in the biodiversity that makes Chile such a special country.
An emblematic example is the endangered Loa Water Frog, which is endemic to a small stream in Ojo de Apache in the vicinity of Calama. This habitat was destroyed prior to 2019 as a result of mining, farming and construction activities. The 14 surviving examples of the frog were rescued and taken into captivity in order to prevent the species from becoming extinct. The frogs’ permeable skin makes them extremely sensitive to pollutants and, seeing as they live both in and out of the water, they are a good indicator of the health of these two environments. They also play an important ecological role in controlling parasites and insects that affect the food chain. Their disappearance could result in systemic impacts both in the aquatic environment and on land.
Over the last three years, the Santiago National Zoo has been developing a plan to breed the frogs and it recently announced the birth of 200 specimens. Extreme E, as part of its legacy project, will work alongside the Museum of Natural History and Culture of the Atacama Desert and will help prepare habitats for the reintroduction of the Loa Water Frog in Calama in the coming months.