One month until Extreme E’s Ocean X Prix in Senegal
Today marks one month until Extreme E’s second event – the Ocean X Prix – which will take place at Lac Rose in Dakar, Senegal on 29-30 May.
Extreme E marks the return of off-road racing to one of its original roots, famous for the gruelling Paris-Dakar Rally which debuted in 1978 but which hasn’t finished in the Senegalese capital since 2007.
Alejandro Agag, CEO and Founder of Extreme E, said: “So here we are, just one month until our second event, the Ocean X Prix. We are all very excited to be headed to Senegal, in particular Dakar and specifically Lac Rose, which once marked the finish line to one of the most iconic rallies in the world. We are pleased to be bringing motorsport back to this region and am sure we will put on an incredible show.
“But more than that, Extreme E is using its platform to highlight the climate realities of the area, from rising sea levels to plastic pollution. Not only will we use our sport to shine a light on all these issues and the solutions we can all be part of, but we will also be making a positive and lasting difference through our various Legacy Programmes in the country including planting one million mangroves and supporting local communities.”
Extreme E has attracted some of the biggest names in motorsport including Formula One World Champions Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg who have founded teams X44 and Rosberg X Racing respectively, plus Jenson Button who has not only founded, but makes up one half of the JBXE driver pairing. In a motorsport world-first, teams are required to field both a male and female driver in a bid for gender equality and a level playing field, with the 2021 line-up including the likes of Sébastien Loeb, Carlos Sainz Snr., Johan Kristoffersson, Molly Taylor, Jamie Chadwick and Laia Sanz.
Abdou Thiam, President of the Senegalese Motorsport Federation, said: “When Alejandro presented his project to me, it was with great enthusiasm that I welcomed the idea of an international competition on the banks of the Pink Lake.
“Thanks to a long tradition of motorsport in Senegal, this site has hosted our various national championships and the arrival of many international competitions. The most famous of these even bears the name of our capital.
“The innovative approach of Extreme E as well as its environmental dimension projects us towards the future of off-road motor racing. Finally, we are delighted and honoured to welcome the great names of the motorsport family. As such, we welcome all the actors of what I hope will be the first edition of a long series in Senegal.”
Extreme E chose Lac Rose in Senegal to highlight a variety of issues such as rising sea levels due to global warming which causes oceans to heat up, and in turn expand. Sea level has been rising by around 30 centimetres every 10 years. Plastic pollution is another major issue affecting the African country, with the mountain of single-use plastic washing up on the shores growing day-by-day and threatening marine species and human health.
The lake itself is a vibrant pink due to the Dunaliella Salina bacteria, which is attracted by the lake’s salt content. The bacteria produce a red pigment in order to absorb the sunlight, thus giving the lake its unique colour. However, the water levels have fallen dramatically in the last 40 years due to over-exploitation of salt mining and water pumping.
Over the last year, Extreme E has supported two projects, which it will continue to do beyond the race weekend, in conjunction with its legacy partner to.org. The first of these legacy projects with to.org, and local implementation partner Oceanium, is to plant one million mangrove trees. Mangroves pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and the sediment beneath their roots stores a huge amount of this carbon. They are also important for coastal communities protecting them from destructive effects of storms and of sea level, and as nurseries for fish that provide food.
Sadly, over a third of mangroves have been lost, leaving them vulnerable to food shortages and from storm damage.
As part of its Legacy Programme commitment, Extreme E has already assisted with the planting of half a million mangroves over an area of 65 hectares. This reforestation involved nine outings and almost 700 people who supported planting and support for growing trees, and removal of plastic waste to ensure a healthy mangrove ecosystem.
In addition, Extreme E has been supporting the local community through the EcoZone Project in collaboration with to.org and GroupeSenghor (GS). Based in Lac Rose, close to Extreme E’s race location, this project aims to raise awareness of climate issues and location mitigation strategies by engaging local people in the creation of a healthy environment. The ultimate goal here is to build a sustainable community through the provision of guidance, information and resources, empowering self-sufficiency and economic autonomy.
Nachson Mimran, CEO and co-founder of to.org said: “The to.org team is honoured to bring our love for Senegal and our passion for sustainability to our legacy partnership with Extreme E. The reforestation of mangroves – one of nature’s most effective carbon capture solutions – will protect against coastal erosion, provide habitats for fish nurseries and marine organisms, and will improve water quality for local communities by filtering polluted water. We are excited to continue our mangrove reforestation programme and to advance to.org’s mission to address Earth’s most pressing social and environmental challenges.”
Extreme E’s floating centrepiece, the St. Helena, is currently en route to Senegal with the championship’s freight including its fleet of all-important electric SUVs – the ODYSSEY 21 – which teams will race in a month’s time to see who will take victory at the Ocean X Prix. Rosberg X Racing currently tops the leaderboard, but with four X Prixs to go, it is still all to play for.
To minimise local impact, Extreme E races will not be open to spectators, with fans instead invited to follow the racing through live TV broadcast, which includes RTS, ESPN, Fox Africa, StarTimes in Senegal, and on social media.
To learn more about Extreme E, visit – www.Extreme-E.com
Julia Fry- photos Extreme E photographers