Nasser Al-Attiyah joins Jutta Kleinschmidt for 2022 edition of electric off-road racing championship.
Abt Cupra XE will field a pair of Dakar Rally winners in the second season of the Extreme E electric off-road championship, with Nasser Al-Attiyah joining the returning Jutta Kleinschmidt in the team’s revamped Cupra Tavascan XE buggy.
Saudi Arabian Al-Attiyah is a four-time winner of the Dakar enduro, claiming victory in the 2022 event last month in a works Toyota Hilux. Kleinschmidt is the only woman to have won the car division of the Dakar, taking glory in 2001 in a Mitsubishi Pajero.
Kleinschmidt began last season as Extreme E’s reserve driver, but replaced the unwell Claudia Hurtgen in the second round, then keeping the seat for the rest of the year.
Matthias Ekholm was the team’s male driver last year, but he has been replaced by Al-Attiyah. While the Saudi Arabian driver is a newcomer to electric motorsport, he has extensive off-road experience: as well as his four Dakar titles, he is a five-time FIA Cross Country World Champion, the 2005 Production Car World Rally champion and a 16-time Middle East Rally Championship title-winner. He also claimed a Bronze medal in the men’s skeet shooting event in the 2012 London Olympics.
Each Extreme E team must field a male and a female driver, who share a Spark Odyssey 400kW electric buggy. Events feature a series of heats and finals run over two laps, with the drivers having to switch at the midway point.
While all the Spark Odyssey 21 machines used in the series are mechanically identical, manufacturers are allowed to fit their own bodywork to relate them to road cars. Cupra was the first car firm to back a team in the series, and as a result Abu Cupra will enter a Tavascan XE. It features styling that the team says previews the production version of the forthcoming electric SUV.
The machine is powered by a 54kWh battery and can achieve 0-100km/h in around four seconds. Cupra also says that the machine is designed for greater sustainability, featuring 3D-printed parts that make it more adaptable and easier to repair.