Extreme E, Hydro X-Prix Scotland
Ever since I first saw the news that a new all electric off-road series was going to start I was interested, when I found out that some of the greatest racing drivers in recent memory were running some of the teams, and or driving the machines I was hooked. Watching Extreme E series 1 in 2021, and series 2 on TV convinced me that this was a special kind of race series. The same electric off-road car driven by both a male and female driver over the same track produced some truly amazing racing. What more could you expect when one of the races had drivers with more than 15 FIA drivers world championship titles between them on the line. Taking stars from world rallycross, F1, rally, Dakar, drift racing, and saloon cars was a recipe for awesome racing. Close parity of the machines meant that it was a mix of luck and driving skill when it came to picking a winner.
So when a friend asked if I would be able to get to Scotland for the third and fourth rounds in May 2023 I was all-in. They don’t spectator tickets for the races themselves, but there is a limited number of spaces for teams, organisers and sponsors guests.
Given that Extreme E is a sport not designed for spectators at the track, it means they can use some remote locations and have tracks designed to use the landscape not factoring in too much spectator viewing. So the former Glenmuckloch opencast coal mine site in Dumfries and Galloway was converted to a race track for the Hydro X-Prix weekend.
The timetable for the racing is tied to two factors, the live broadcast TV schedule and the need to recharge the cars between races. This means racing was supposed to start at 7:30am for qualification 1 heat 1, but the Scottish weather had other ideas. When I arrived thick fog meant I couldn’t see almost anything of the circuit or the landscape. Apparently it was too foggy to fly the medical helicopter – I couldn’t even see the mountain it was parked on. Result was Q1 was cancelled, and the first racing would be Q2 at almost 11am.
Remarkably by 11am, the fog had gone away and the sun shone for the first glimpse of these Extreme E cars actually racing. Considering the almost 2 tonne weight they are incredibly agile and fast. With five of them on track at the same time it was a battle from start to finish with the obligatory driver swap after two of the four laps in each race.
With just one qualifying round the results were super important for all the teams. Then there’s a few hours for the cars to be recharged before heading out to the redemption race and grand final. I was invited to see backstage of the production team and race teams tents. Th whole paddock is tents, that gets shipped around with the cars from race to race by the St. Helena a specially converted ship for Extreme E.
This is the unique sight of John Kristoffersson standing by his car after his first ever roll in a competitive race. Apparently Petter Solberg was one of the first to call him to finally welcome him to the rolled in action club. Johan at this point was five times FIA World Rallycross Champion, and 1x Extreme E champion so he’s not new to competitive racing. By the end of the season he added another FIA World Rallycross title and another Extreme E title to his collection.
The picture is a slight crop of a shot captured using the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM and Extender EF 1.4x III fitted to the crop sensor EOS R10.
Sunday the weather in Scotland was clear enough to fly a helicopter, so that meant racing from 7:30. Also the change in day brought different weather, we’d had thick fog and sunshine on the Saturday, Sunday was damp and periods of rain that changed the traction on the track and visibulitiy for the drivers. Instantly you’ll see the cars are a lot more muddy.
Hedda Hosås brings the JBXE Odyssey 21 back up to the paddock after Q1 H2.
The start of qualifying 2 was dramatic even though the wide start makes it look like a drag race for position in to the first corner.
The following pictures show how this first corner panned out.
I was able to get down the race control tent where the team manager, engineer and other driver are located during the races. It’s dimly lit in there with lots of coloured lights in use to make it look cool. Some of the highest ISO shots of the weekend coming up. Here’s Carlos Sainz (Snr) former world rally champion, multiple Dakar winner and team boss of the Acciona Sainz XE team taken with the EOS R6 at ISO 25,600 then cleaned up with Lightroom Denoise.
This last shot is one I wanted to take all weekend. I had realised on Saturday that the podium was a clear wall between the wooden ends as the teams and second diver would walk down to the command centre before the races. The initial driver would drive the car down to the start. Waiting my moment I tracked with the Rosberg X Racing car then released the focus just before the car was obscured by the wooden section on the right of the podium, then timed my shot so that the car was framed in the gap.
Huge thanks to Dave and Tish for the invite to the Hydro X Prix.