Jeddah course revealed for 2024 Desert X Prix

Extreme E has unveiled its spectacular track design for the opening event of Season 4 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

(Motorsports news) Extreme E has unveiled its spectacular track design for the opening event of Season 4 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom has launched each of the series’ three previous campaigns and will do so again with Rounds 1 and 2 taking place in Jeddah this weekend (17-18 February). The dunes and sandy terrain have proven to be a unique challenge for the Extreme E field since the championship launched in 2021 and will do so again when its fourth instalment gets underway.

Ahead of the first Free Practice session of Season 4 commencing today (Friday 16 February), Extreme E Championship Driver Patrick O’Donovan detailed how the first course of the new campaign will provide plenty of excitement at the Desert X Prix.

O’Donovan said: “Off the start line you’ve got a long run into Turn 1, which I would say is the place to use the ENOWA Hyperdrive from the launch. As you enter Turn 1 it’s not too tight a corner, which means that hopefully there won’t be too much bunching up and people can have a chance to take their own lines in.

“Turn 2 is a different story. It comes up quickly, straight into a tight right turn, meaning almost coming back on yourself entirely and straight over a jump, so that’s an intense part of the course. As you land back down you’ve got a short run up to another jump at Waypoint 4. It’s going to be quite a cool spectacle and possibly some overtaking in the air depending on what the traction is like after Waypoint 2, or who brakes more going over the jump at Waypoint 4.

“Then you have two fast left-handers, where you’re trying to carry as much speed as you can because it ruts up quite easily there in the sand. When I did my testing around the course it was quite a tricky point. Throughout the session, the ruts will become more challenging, but by the time the next session comes around the wind should level them out a bit. That will be interesting to monitor over the course of the weekend.

“The next big challenge as you head down the course is that it becomes very technical. The car moves about left and right, and you’ve got the back-end swinging about all over the place. It’s very technical and behind the wheel there’s a lot going on to try and keep the car straight and get over those.

“Following that there is a long run up to the start of the Continental Traction Challenge where you’ve got a super-heavy braking zone followed by a jump over a 90-degree left-hander, which is a fascinating part of the track as you’re absolutely sending it hoping you don’t dig in and roll.

“After that you’re into an open horseshoe right-hander before  you come across the sand into another braking zone. This time it’s a hairpin left over a jump, so you land on a different angle to one you took off at – luckily, it’s low speed.”

At the first race weekend of the season, teams will be looking to set the tone for the campaign ahead and each driver will be pushing their ODYSSEY 21 to the limit to get ahead of the rest of the pack.

O’Donovan continued: “There are a lot of possibilities for overtakes on this course. What’s good about the desert compared to other tracks is in theory if the car allows you to do it, you can go 20 metres out wide after one waypoint and come back in as long as you get to the second waypoint between the flags. It will be interesting to see how the drivers utilise the multiple lines to their advantage, and to see who figures out the best approach to each jump and tight braking zones to get ahead.

“There’s quite a lot of different skillsets that come into play. You’ve got fast-paced corners where you are trying to carry the speed, but then you’ve got a lot of tight technical spots to deal with, too.”

The Desert X Prix always proves to be an exciting event in the Extreme E calendar, as the only terrain of its type amongst the remote locations visited by the all-electric off-road series.

O’Donovan added: “Chile was a desert as well, but it was much more of a gritty gravel terrain rather than sand. On gravel in Sardinia and Chile you can trust the car a lot more and you can almost half predict what it’s going to do when you’re turning into a corner, but on sand that’s just not the case. No rut is going to be the same, and it’s possible that the sand bunches up along the side wall of the tyre as you’re going through a corner, and suddenly there’s just a mound that feels like you are hitting something on the outside.

“The course track markers stay the same, but the track changes every time you come to a new corner which is amazing. There’s a lot of drivers on the grid who, unless they go out testing, don’t necessarily get the chance to gain lots of experience in the sand, whereas for other drivers like Dania Akeel, driving on this sort of terrain can be quite common.

“My favourite part of this course has got to be the jumps. I don’t usually get a rush from these, but when you’re going over a dune and all you can see is the sky it’s totally different. It’s a rush of not being fully in control – just going flat out and hoping for the best.”

The Extreme E Season 4 opener in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, gets underway this weekend (17-18 February). The racing action will be live across ITV and STV in the UK.

Also read: Symbio to become Extreme H Official Hydrogen Fuel Cell provider from 2025


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