The course for the Desert X Prix in NEOM has been revealed, with the opening race of Extreme E Season 2 introducing the 10 teams and 20 drivers to new terrain in the Saudi desert on Feb. 19-20.
The 6.9 km course in NEOM offers a range of backdrops and rock formations as well as plenty of gradient changes. In stark contrast to the 2021 Desert X Prix in AlUla, this race weekend will feature a launch off the start that is all uphill and takes the drivers across the lower part of the valley floor.
The first waypoint sits between two rock formations at the top of a short but steep incline as the drivers head toward the first sharp direction change and the cars start their descent to the middle of the valley floor.
Dust will be a factor, but the width of the valley offers more than enough room to duck out of anything the car lifts in front, allowing the drivers to stay on full throttle. On what will be a fast course, the drivers are likely to be pushing the upgraded ODYSSEY 21 to the max for much of the lap.
Another steep climb takes the cars up to the first of two technical sections as they briefly climb on top of the edge of a rock formation before a sharp right-hand turn at the farthest point of the course. A steep but spectacular descent through the heavy red sand brings the cars onto the flat of the second valley floor before a short climb over another hill opens up to a wide and inviting section of the course where a myriad of racing lines will tempt the drivers to overtake.
Into the last quarter of the course and the drivers will be at full throttle for a blast up the steepest incline in deep sand that will certainly use up some energy from the battery. At the top of the hill, the drivers will turn a sharp right and over a blind crest, hitting a steep descent toward the penultimate waypoint — a tight 90-degree left-hander.
Once again into the deep red sand, the cars will be working hard and powering up the last long run to the final waypoint. Depending on their strategy, some drivers could use Hyperdrive here to catch the car in front as it struggles up the hill, but they will need to hang on as they go blind into the final turn at 90 degrees and into a breathtakingly steep drop on the other side. The drivers will have to trust their skill and judgment as they fly down the steepest descent on the course, bottoming out just before crossing the finish line.