Saturday, March 2, 2024

ABT CUPRA departing Extreme E

ABT CUPRA XE has closed the curtains on their Extreme E division at the conclusion of the 2023 season to focus on Formula E, the team announced Wednesday. However, the team is open to returning to off-road racing once the hydrogen-based Extreme H launches in 2025.

“We continue to firmly believe in the Extreme E concept of combining exciting motorsport with responsibility for the environment,” said ABT CEO Thomas Biermaier. “In addition to trophies for victories and podium finishes, we will take home many unforgettable memories and impressions, from the glaciers in Greenland to the deserts of Saudi Arabia and the Atacama Desert in Chile.

“Together with our current and potential partners, we are keeping a close eye on the transition from Extreme E to Extreme H. Who knows what the future will bring with the hydrogen era?”

The team, a partnership between ABT Sportsline and Cupra Racing, was one of the nine original outfits that contested the inaugural Extreme E season in 2021. Much of their driver roster has featured rally raid stars such as Mattias Ekström, Nasser Al-Attiyah, Sébastien Loeb, and Jutta Kleinschmidt, though touring car veterans Claudia Hürtgen and Adrien Tambay and rallycross competitor Klara Andersson have also raced for them.

Ekström and Kleinschmidt finished fifth in the 2021 championship with a runner-up at the Island X Prix; Kleinschmidt replaced Hürtgen, who ran the season opener before falling ill. Al-Attiyah took over Ekström’s seat for 2022, while Andersson filled in for the injured Kleinschmidt for the final two rounds; Al-Attiyah and Andersson scored the team’s maiden win at the season-ending Energy X Prix as they placed sixth in the team’s championship.

The lineup remained the same to start 2023 before Al-Attiyah missed the second half of the season to focus on rally raid. Loeb, his rival in the World Rally-Raid Championship and defending XE champion, substituted for two rounds and scored podiums in the second Island X Prix. Tambay, who has raced for ABT and CUPRA separately, and Andersson placed seventh in the team’s final race at the Copper X Prix last Sunday. ABT CUPRA finished sixth in points again.

“We would like to pay our sincere thanks to ABT and CUPRA after their three years in Extreme E, since the very start,” commented series head Alejandro Agag. “CUPRA have been great advocates for our championship and huge supporters of electric, sustainable racing. Since their business focus is on the electric car market, and we are transitioning to hydrogen-powered racing, it’s a logical move for them to concentrate on their involvement with Formula E. It’s great that CUPRA will remain within the ‘electric motorsport’ family and we wish them well in their future endeavours.

“Although ABT will sit out the 2024 season, their passion and commitment to sustainable off-road motorsport is clear, and we are optimistic that they will return to the paddock with Extreme H. The door is firmly open for manufacturers with a focus on hydrogen to collaborate and innovate with us as we transition to hydrogen-powered racing, a world first, from 2025. The plans for the championship are developing at pace, and in the meantime we look forward to another hugely competitive Extreme E season next year.”

With no Extreme E team, ABT CUPRA will invest their resources into improving on their last-place championship finish in Formula E. Lucas di Grassi and Nico Müller will race for them.

\