Fully charged: Diriyah gets ready for return of the E-Prix electric speedsters

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Updated 22 November 2019

Fully charged: Diriyah gets ready for return of the E-Prix electric speedsters

  • Saudi circuit will host opening race of Formula E Championship for second year in a row

RIYADH:  Formula E racing, which came to Saudi Arabia for the first time last year, returns to the Diriyah circuit this month for two days of high-speed thrills.

The 2019 Diriyah E-Prix weekend on Nov. 22 and 23 not only marks the start of season six of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, the world’s premier all-electric motorsport series, it also kicks off Diriyah Season, a month-long program of world-class sport and entertainment.

The second-generation “Gen2” electric racing cars, which debuted in Saudi Arabia last year in the opening race of season five of Formula E, represented a considerable upgrade from the Gen1 cars that had been used since the launch of the event in 2014. They are faster, the power has been boosted from 200 to 250 kilowatts, and the energy storage is almost double that of their predecessors. As a result, they can reach speeds as high as 280km/h and accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 2.8 seconds. A Gen3 car is already in development that is expected to increase the power to 450-500 kW.

“Formula E has revolutionized motorsport in its few years of existence, but I’m more fascinated about how it will carry on changing and transforming the industry,” said Alejandro Agag, the chairman of Formula E.

“Formula E debuted five years ago but it feels like it was yesterday. Now we have Gen2 and it won’t be long until we welcome Gen3: a bigger, stronger and definitely faster racing car.”

Power of 500 kW is equivalent to 670 horsepower, which would allow the cars to exceed 300km/h.

“The way I envision Gen3 in my mind is with lighter batteries, ultrafast charging and two pitstops,” said Agag. “That way you get more power with maybe 100 kilograms less of battery.

“That automatically means significant improvement in performance, while showcasing ultrafast charging technology. For pitstops, they would allow cars to get as much power as they can in a 60-second window. That is the direction I would like to see Formula E go, down the line.”

The Gen1 cars could only complete between 12 and 17 laps of a circuit before drivers had to stop and switch to a second, fully charged vehicle to complete the race. Gen2 cars can complete a full race. The Gen2 battery, an all-new unit provided by McLaren Advanced Technologies, significantly boosted the vehicle’s output, speed and endurance. Gen3 is scheduled to be introduced after the 2021/22 season.

“Gen1 was all about introducing electric vehicles to motorsport and establishing them as viable racing cars that can compete, and we successfully achieved that,” said Formula E CEO Jamie Reigle.

“Once we delivered that, Gen2 was all about the battery and demonstrating innovation in longevity, to address any consumer concerns over the adoption of electric vehicles.”

The 2019 Diriyah E-Prix, the hosting of which reflects the aims of Saudi Vision 2030, marks the second year of a 10-year partnership between ABB FIA Formula E, the Kingdom’s General Sports Authority and the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation. It will be staged once again by promoter CBX.

Season 6 of the FIA ABB Formula E Championship will feature 24 cars from 12 teams, with Mercedes and Porsche making their debuts. The event will be accompanied by live music, entertainment and culture at historic Diriyah, the birthplace of Saudi Arabia, which is a UNESCO heritage site on the outskirts of Riyadh.

The E-Prix is just one of the sporting highlights during Diriyah Season. Others include: the “Clash On The Dunes” on Dec. 7, when Andy Ruiz Jr. will defend his world heavyweight boxing title in a rematch against Anthony Joshua, from whom he took the title in June this year; the Diriyah Tennis Cup (Dec. 12-14), featuring eight top international male players; and the elite Diriyah Equestrian Festival on Dec. 12-14 and 19-21. International music stars will perform concerts to accompany the sporting action.


Champions League ready to resume, at long last

Robert Lewandowski, left, and Bayern Munich during their Marseille friendly ahead of the Champions League last 16 2nd leg against Chelsea. (Files/AFP)
Updated 03 August 2020

Champions League ready to resume, at long last

  • UEFA ‘confident’ no more delays despite virus cases among players at Real Madrid and Sevilla

PARIS: After an enforced hiatus of almost five months, the UEFA Champions League and Europa League resume this week in order to clear up the last remaining business in a troubled season.

Both competitions were frozen in March as the coronavirus pandemic took hold across the continent, and while European football’s governing body acted swiftly to move Euro 2020 back a year, for a long time it was unclear how it would manage to complete its two landmark club competitions.
In the end the solution was to set up two mini tournaments bringing all teams together in one place from the quarterfinals onwards, with all ties being decided in one-off matches behind closed doors.
And so the Champions League will move to Lisbon for the “Final Eight” starting on Aug. 12 and ending with the final at Benfica’s Estadio da Luz on Aug. 23.
The Europa League, meanwhile, will be played to a conclusion at a series of venues in western Germany, with the last eight beginning on Aug. 10 and the final in Cologne on Aug. 21.
“I believed it from the first moment,” said the UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin recently when asked if he ever doubted it would be possible to play the tournaments to a conclusion. “You should always be optimistic, and if something like this crisis happens, you must have a plan ready. “At the present time, we will be playing matches without spectators until further notice. We will not take any risks.”
There is, though, no question of further changes being made to the formats despite concerns about an increase in Covid-19 cases in and around Lisbon, and more recent worries in Germany about a rise in cases there.
UEFA also recently insisted it was “confident” there would be no more delays despite cases of coronavirus emerging among players at Real Madrid and Sevilla. It is, in any case, now or never.
Indeed, the preliminary round of next season’s Champions League begins next Saturday, the same day Bayern Munich entertain Chelsea and Napoli visit Barcelona in their outstanding last 16 second legs.
Before that, Manchester City defend a 2-1 first-leg lead at home against Real on Friday as Pep Guardiola’s side target Champions League glory on the back of the club’s success at getting a two-year ban from the competition overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The winner of that tie will face Juventus or Lyon in the quarterfinals in Lisbon.
It is the Europa League which is first up, though, with the last 16 being completed on Wednesday and Thursday.
Two ties — Inter Milan against Getafe and Sevilla against Roma — will go ahead as one-off ties in Germany as the first legs were never played.
Six second legs will also be played with the winners heading to Germany for the last eight.
Among the ties to be completed is Manchester United’s against Austrian side LASK, which will be a formality for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team after they won 5-0 in the first leg in March.
Their form since the Premier League resumed in mid-June has been excellent and they have already sealed a place in the 2020-21 Champions League, but now they want to finish this never-ending season with a trophy.
“Now our focus is on the Europa League because this is a really good trophy and we want to win,” Bruno Fernandes told MUTV.
“I came to Manchester to win trophies. We need to play every game to win. If we go into the Europa League and win every game, we know we’ll win the trophy.”
United, Europa League winners in 2017, could yet find themselves facing Premier League rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers in the semifinals in Cologne on Aug. 16 should both teams get there.
Wolves entertain Greek champions Olympiakos on Thursday having drawn 1-1 in the first leg of their last-16 tie.
Their campaign started more than a year ago now, with a 2-0 win over Northern Irish side Crusaders in the second qualifying round on July 25, 2019.
Extending it by another couple of weeks would do them no harm.