Dani Ben-Ari
The Driving Range

Molly Taylor, the 2016 Australian Rally Car Champ teamed up with Sweden’s Johan Kristofferson to take the Desert X Prix in Saudi Arabia by storm on Easter Sunday. The race, the first in the Extreme E series founded by Alejandro Agag (who also created the Formula E open-wheels series), was a brutal test of endurance that pitted male/female teams against each other in some of the harshest off-road conditions in the world. Yet, according to team owner, 2016 Formula 1 driving champ Nico Rosberg, neither Taylor nor Kristofferson “put a foot wrong in really tough conditions. They both showed unbelievable speed out there,” he said.

Agag’s vision for the Extreme X series of five intercontinental races is to bring attention to severe climate change and the role motorsports needs to play to improve conditions, as well as provide greater equality between men and women racers. In fact, rules for the series require that each team has two drivers, one man and one woman, with each competing for one lap in the two-lap format for the all-electric Odyssey 21 SUVs that are “on center stage to prove a technological point, as well.”

Meanwhile, according to Andretti United driver Catie Munnings of Britain, “Extreme E offers an amazing platform for female drivers, and it’s super-cool to be racing against such fast girls.” Munnings noted that it has been “really nice to see everyone coming together, encouraging each other and creating a competitive environment.” “All of us—men and women alike—”she noted, “have been learning on the job and having a great time while doing it.” Munnings’ teammate is Timmy Hansen of Sweden.

The series will head next to Lac Rose in Senegal for the May 29-30 Ocean X Prix, which will focus on issues such as rising sea levels and pollution that threatens the ecosystem. Matters of interest and concern include erosion, food scarcity, and food-chain/ocean contamination. The top three competitors in the championship standings going into Senegal are (in order) Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton’s X44team drivers Sébastien Loeb, Cristina Gutiérrez. and Andretti United.