JEDDAH: With less than three weeks to go until the first X Prix takes place in AlUla, the ship ferrying the vehicles, race set-up, and equipment for Extreme E’s debut race weekend has docked in Jeddah.
Extreme E’s central goal is to raise environmental awareness, so all race hardware for the series of worldwide events will travel by sea, to reduce the size of the carbon footprint left by air travel.
The first of those trips began in February, with a sailing from England to Saudi Arabia.
Packed with 63 shipping containers, the St. Helena departed from Liverpool three weeks ago, navigating its way around the southern coast of Spain before venturing through the Mediterranean.
A 12-hour trip through the Suez Canal followed, before the ship finally completed the home straight down the Red Sea, arriving in Saudi Arabia on Sunday morning.
Its cargo is now headed for AlUla, the host location for Extreme E’s first ever outing, and its inaugural Desert X Prix, to be held on the weekend of April 3 to 4.
“Extreme E has arrived in Saudi Arabia. This date has been a long time coming and we are thrilled to herald the safe arrival of the St. Helena here in the Kingdom,” said Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal, chairman of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF) that is organizing the race with Extreme E.
“With less than three weeks until race weekend, we will now be working tirelessly alongside Extreme E to ensure April’s Desert X Prix in AlUla is as epic as we have all imagined.
“Extreme E marks another landmark moment for motorsports in Saudi Arabia and will be one that we believe will inspire Saudis, both on the track as drivers, but off the track too,” he added.
On board the St. Helena was the series’ full fleet of electric SUVs and its purpose-built AFC Energy hydrogen fuel cell, which will provide zero-emission vehicle-charging capabilities on site.
The ship was also carrying Aireshelta tents which will house the team garages, the podium, the start gantry, TV and broadcast equipment, three machines from 3devo to turn plastic waste into the championship’s trophies, two custom BRIG Eagle 8 carbon black support boats, and a variety of Bosch tools.
Extreme E founder and CEO, Alejandro Agag, said: “We’ve made it. The maiden race weekend voyage of the St. Helena was always going to be a massive moment for us and that’s exactly how it’s turned out – emotionally as much as anything.
“We have put so much work in to get to this stage and to know we’re now in Saudi Arabia and en route to AlUla fills me and all of our hard-working, passionate team with immense joy.
“The Desert X Prix is going to be a landmark occasion in so many ways: From the launch of our all-electric racing series to the groundbreaking work we plan to carry out in efforts to combat desertification in the Kingdom and around the world, so to be officially on ground is hugely exciting,” he added.
The repurposing of the St. Helena has been a huge project for Extreme E. Purchased in 2018, the former mail delivery vessel has had a complete internal refit, and now sets sail complete with its own science laboratory, manned by on-board scientists, who will conduct oceanic research projects while at sea.
In addition, there are 62 cabins on board which can sleep up to 175 people, two lounges, an 80-seater restaurant, a 100-seater exterior deck, an 80-seater presentation area, plus capacity to carry 90 20-foot shipping containers.
The vessel uses low-energy LED lights, has low-water consumption bathroom fittings, and chairs made from recycled plastic bottles collected from the Mediterranean. There is also a hydroponic system in the kitchens allowing chefs to grow their own on-board herbs and garnishes.
The Desert X Prix in AlUla gets underway on Saturday, April 3 with the qualification rounds, and the final plays out 24 hours later. Extreme E X Prix races are not open to fans to attend in person, but qualifications will be shown live on the Extreme E website, with the finals broadcast live on KSA Sports in Saudi Arabia and MBC in the Middle East.