Australian rally champion Molly Taylor leads a new international racing series intended to right the wrongs of traditional motorsport.
Cheekily dubbed “Formula Woke” by American magazine Car and Driver, Extreme E pits racers into battle in environments threatened by climate change.
Recognising traditional motorsport is male-dominated, the series uniquely requires every team to have a male and female driver.
The cars are electric battery-powered four-wheel-drive buggies that produce no tailpipe emissions and minimal noise. While Formula 1 charters enormous cargo jets to move its circus around the world, Extreme E uses a refurbished Royal Mail ship to haul racers to their destination.
Founded by Alejandro Agag, the Spaniard behind Formula E single seater racing, the new series dodges conventional racetracks in favour of natural environments that are then cleaned up afterwards.
Racers at the latest round planted mangroves before strapping on their helmets.
The series also installed solar panels at markets and taught school students to make bricks from discarded plastic.
Future races in the Arctic and Amazon will be accompanied by education and reforestation programs.
The series has attracted investment from superstar racers such as Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg – the latter employing Molly Taylor and Johan Kristoffersson as drivers in his Rosberg X Racing team.
Taylor and Kristoffersson lead the series after winning the first two rounds in Saudi Arabia and Senegal, ranking ahead of World Rally Championship legend Sebastien Loeb and Dakar driver Cristina Gutiérrez.
Rosberg praised both drivers after their latest victory, saying the former SAS Australia reality TV star “made the magic in the final and then Johan brought it home”.
“[It is] such a brilliant dynamic which really underlines the topic of equality which is one of the things that this championship is based on – that’s fantastic to see,” Rosberg said.
Taylor took a hard-fought victory in the main event, racing wheel-to-wheel with rivals on beachside dunes.
“I made some contact, but this is close racing and that can happen,” she said.
Kristoffersson said “Molly executed everything perfectly”.
“She did an amazing job taking care of the traffic in her lap – I was really impressed with that.”
The next Extreme E race takes place in Greenland on the last weekend in August.