Wednesday 31 March 2021

EXTREME E: Everything you need to know including broadcast times in South Africa.

The electrifying, Extreme E series gets underway this weekend in the deserts of Saudi Arabia, and here's everything you need to know, including the broadcasting times in South Africa. 

So, what is Extreme E all about? It’s quite simple, really. Extreme E is a radical new off-road racing series with an aim to highlight the impact of climate change on some of the world’s most fragile ecosystems, such as the Amazon rainforest or the Arctic.

In parallel to the racing spectacle, the series will run a “legacy programme” with the intent to provide social and environmental support for the locations visited by the series. 

The Extreme E series is also a gamechanger with regards to gender quality, as they have mandated that all teams must have a female and a male driver who share equal driving duties. A first of its kind in motorsport these days, which is a real step in the right direction. 

THE SUV (car) – ODYSSEY 21

The ODYSSEY 21 is an electric off-road competition SUV specially designed for use in the Extreme E series, a proposed class of auto racing that only uses electric vehicles to race off-road in remote parts of the world. 

So, let’s dive a bit deeper into the ODYSSEY 21 SUV. The vehicle's power peaks at 400kw (550hp) with an output capable of firing the 1650-kilogram, 2.3-metres wide car from 0-62mph in 4.2 seconds. 

Each SUV comprises a common package of standardized parts, including a powertrain manufactured by Spark Racing Technology with a battery produced by Williams Advanced Engineering. The chassis encompasses a Niobium-reinforced steel alloy tubular frame, as well as the crash structure and roll cage, whilst tyres to suit the extreme conditions will be supplied by Continental Tyres.

ROUND ONE – AlUla, Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia will host Extreme E's first-ever race, the Desert X Prix, on April 3 and 4 at the breathtaking destination of AlUla. The Desert X Prix circuit map will be revealed on Friday afternoon on the Extreme E social media pages. 

“Extreme E is a much-anticipated racing series being launched to showcase the uncompromising ability of environmentally friendly technology to power automobiles across the most challenging terrains worldwide,” Alejandro Agag, Founder and CEO of Extreme E, said.

“We chose to organise our first ever race in AlUla, with the aim to shed light on the threats presented by desertification. The magnificent sand dunes and breathtaking views of AlUla will represent the perfect backdrop to showcase the exploits of the innovative engineering masterpieces and the world-class driving capabilities taking part in the competition.”   


Each X Prix Race Weekend will include two days of short, sharp wheel-to-wheel action-packed racing, with world-class drivers and teams, and the ODYSSEY 21 electric SUV, with its five formidable racing environments, all firmly in focus.


Two days of racing – Saturday and Sunday.

  • Each team races twice on Saturday, in Qualifying Round 1 and Qualifying Round 2.
  • Semi-Final 1 and Semi-Final 2 (Crazy Race) and Final on Sunday.
  • Each race is two laps – one lap driven by the female and one lap driven by the male.
  • All results based on race finishing position, not race time.

Let’s dive deeper into the weekend format.

The Saturday Race Format: 

  • Four races are held on Saturday:
  • Qualifying Round 1 (two races)
  • Qualifying Round 2 (two races).

Qualifying Round 1, Race 1 will field five cars, and Qualifying Round 1, Race 2 will have four cars competing.

Choice of starting position for Qualifying Round 1 based on a lottery draw.

Saturday event points for each race (to calculate Sunday starting positions):

1st: 4 points

2nd: 3 points

3rd: 2 point

4th: 1 point

5th: 0 point

The top four-point scorers after Saturday’s races qualify for Semi-Final 1 and the remaining five teams qualify for Semi-Final 2 (Crazy Race).

The Sunday Race Format:

  • Three races held on Sunday: Semi-Final 1, Semi-Final 2 (Crazy Race), and the Final.
  • Four cars in Semi-Final 1 and five cars in Semi-Final 2 – the Crazy Race -  and the Final.
  • Choice of grid starting position for Semi-Finals based on points order after Qualifying rounds.
  • The top three teams from Semi-Final 1 and the first and second-placed teams from Semi-Final 2 / the Crazy Race qualify for the Final.
  • The starting position for the Final will be decided by fans through the GridPlay voting system.
  • Standby team for the Final to be the fourth-placed team in Semi-Final 1. 

So, how does the points system actually work in Extreme E? After the Final, points for the Drivers and Teams Championship will be allocated according to the list, below:

1st: 25 points

2nd: 15 points

3rd: 10 points

4th: 7 points

5th: 6 points

6th: 5 points

7th: 4 points

8th: 3 points

9th: 2 points

10th: 1 point

*If a team is disqualified from a Semi-Final or Final they will receive no points for that race.



There are nine teams and 18 drivers competing in the inaugural Extreme E series, ranging from circuit racing to off-road icons, namely: Sébastien Loeb, Laia Sanz, Carlos Sainz, and Sara Price, etc.

The teams and drivers are listed below:


DRIVERS: Mattias Ekström and Claudia Hürtgen.

    • ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team

DRIVERS: Carlos Sainz and Laia Sanz.


DRIVERS: Timmy Hansen and Catie Munnings.

    • Hispano Suiza XITE ENERGY TEAM

DRIVERS: Christine Giampaoli Zonca and Oliver Bennett.

    • JBXE

DRIVERS: Jenson Button and Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky.

    • Rosberg Xtreme Racing

DRIVERS: Johan Kristoffersson and Molly Taylor.

    • Segi TV Chip Ganassi Racing

DRIVERS: Sara Price and Kyle Leduc.


DRIVERS: Jamie Chadwick and Stephane Sarrazin.

    • X44

DRIVERS: Cristina Gutiérrez and Sébastien Loeb.

BROADCAST SCHEDULE (South Africa only) 

Friday, 2 April 2021

06:00 to 16:20 - Extreme E – Shakedown (Saudi Arabia) - SSM and SSM Africa

Saturday, 3 April 2021

08:00 to 09:30 - Extreme E - Round 1: Qualifying 1 & 2  - SSM and SSM Africa

13:00 to 14:30 – Extreme E - Round 1: Qualifying 3 & 4 – SSM and SSM Africa

Sunday, 4 April 2021

08:00 to 09:30 – Extreme E - Semi-final & Crazy Race – SSM and SSM Africa

12:00 to 13:30 -  Extreme E – Race – SSM and SSM Africa

[Broadcast Times provided by SuperSport] 

Friday 19 March 2021

Dakar Rally: A tyre or regulatory issue?

PHOTO CREDIT: Toyota GAZOO Racing South Africa.

The world's toughest rally raid, the Dakar Rally has come and gone, but it will always be remembered for two specific reasons. Let’s not keep you waiting. It’s time to dive in...

Winner winner chicken dinner! A phrase often used to celebrate victories. So, with that being said, let’s segue into the first talking point, as to why the 2021 Dakar Rally will be remembered. First of all, the strategic masterclass from Stéphane Peterhansel and co-driver Edouard Boulanger (X-Raid Mini JCW) is a main talking point. So, why use the word “Strategic Masterclass”? It’s pretty simple! From the outset, the French duo had one goal and one goal only – try not to open the road, and it actually paid off. Despite winning one stage (stage 9), Peterhansel and Boulanger clinched the 2021 Dakar Rally title. 

And, whilst winning will always be remembered... The second talking point or reason why the 2021 Dakar Rally will stay fresh in the minds of fans and drivers is due to one thing: Punctures. The T1 class 4x4 vehicles had more punctures than their two-wheel-drive counterparts, and Toyota Gazoo Racing SA is a direct example of this. The South African run team conducted pre-Dakar tyre testing after suffering from a number of punctures in 2020, but unfortunately, despite the hard work in trying to find a solution. The team had more punctures than expected. 

The Dakar Rally moved to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2020 for what it called “Chapter 3” in the ever-expanding history of the rally raid, which was won by Mini X-Raid JCW’s Carlos Sainz and co-driver Carlos Sainz, whilst Toyota’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and co-driver Matthieu Baumel come out second best. 

The intense two-week rally raid sees competitors traverse through landscapes ranging from deserts, muddy terrain, ravines, and rocky mountain passes in intense heat, whilst aiming not to lose a tenth to their rivals. 

The Dakar is a challenge on its own… throw in a global pandemic, and it became a lot harder but thankfully, the Saudi Arabian government made it a bit easier for the event to take place in 2021. 

Having had a taste of the Saudi Arabian conditions in 2020 and its landscapes. Each team had an idea of what they could introduce or change on their vehicles for the 2021 edition. And, after coming out second best to Carlos Sainz in 2020, Al-Attiyah set his set sights on the overall victory in 2021, but work had to done to find a solution for the punctures that the team suffered in 2020. So, Toyota Gazoo Racing SA conducted pre-Dakar tyre testing with Giniel de Villiers and Nasser Al-Attiyah. The team was quite confident that they had found a solution are were ready for the 2021 Dakar. 

Unfortunately, it was not to be. The three-time Dakar Rally winner, Nasser Al-Attiyah brought his Toyota Hilux home in second-place yet again. The Qatari driver made it clear that this crew (co-driver and team) made no mistakes over the course of the two-week event, and despite claiming five stage wins, it was not enough for the overall win. 

Speaking after the Dakar, Al-Attiyah made it clear that the current sporting regulations clearly favour the two-wheel-drive buggies. 

“This is the second year that we are fighting, and losing against the buggies. We need to have fair rules,” the three-time Dakar Winner said. “No matter how hard we push, without speed along we can not close the gap. The buggies have been winning for five years against the 4x4 car because the rules have been done in their favour. I hope that organisers will change it, otherwise, we won’t be interested in coming [back].”

"It is not a question of where the buggy is better and where the 4x4 is better. The rules are not fair, just that. Not only because of the wheels, there are many things. I am not the one who has to change it, but everything is very clear,” he concluded. 

Having had a top speed disadvantage a year earlier, the FIA announced that T1 class vehicles, including Toyota and Mini X-Raid would be limited to 180km/h for 2021 after lobbying from Toyota. 

A slight step in the right direction for Toyota’s fight against the mighty buggies, but their 2021 campaign would be rather deflating. Deflating? Why, was it deflating you ask? Well, Toyota’s Giniel de Villiers led the charge but not a positive charge. Rather a deflating charge. The South African picked up more punctures than you can count on your hands over the two-week event. 

In total, Toyota Gazoo Racing SA had 106 punctures over 12 stages, with an average of 26.5 punctures across the four-car team. Is that even possible? Unfortunately, it was a reality for the team. Is it solely related to the tyres? It is a regulatory issue? Or is the landscape to blame?

Well, we can rule out the landscape. Why? Because these the routes are pre-planned by the ASO and the cars are built around regulations for the specific championships or series.

Henk Lategan, Toyota Gazoo Racing SA driver films an explanation of the difference between 4x4 and Buggy tyres.
Video Supplied By; Brett Cummings

In recent years, 4x4 vehicles were the way to go. However, there has been a recent shift to two-wheel-drive buggies. So, let’s discuss this a bit further. Peugeot was the first manufacturer to introduce buggies. The Frenchman manufacturer introduced the 3008 DKR buggy in 2017, which powered Peterhansel and Sainz to victory in 2017 and 2018. And, ever since then we have seen a growing field – Mini X-Raid JCW, Century Racing, Bahrain Raid Xtreme to name a few teams. To add to the conversion, Audi announced their intentions to enter the Dakar Rally in 2022 with alternative power. Can you guess the concept for their entry? Yes, you’re right! They are building a buggy. 

It’s pretty clear that buggies are the way to go, although 4x4 vehicles can still hold their own against the buggies. 

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool.
There is a clear difference, from regulatory rules to the difference in tyres between the 4x4 vehicles versus the 2-wheel-drive buggies. The 4x4 has a larger footprint compared to the taller wheels on the buggies.

So, in order to get a better grasp of the main talking point “the punctures”, we spoke to BFGoodrich, and asked them a few questions.

As the number of punctures became a big talking point of the 2021 Dakar Rally, were there any specific issues with the tyres that led to so many punctures? And, how would BFGoodrich explain the increase in punctures seen this year?

“The 4x4 cars and 2wd buggies have differing rule sets which can ultimately affect performance. This includes, but is not limited to weight, wheel and tyre size; and suspension travel,” BFGoodrich said. “The AWD cars utilize a 800mm diameter tyre and are limited to 280mm of suspension travel. Whilst the 2wd buggy has a 940mm tyre and no suspension travel limit. In addition, there is a 270 kg weight difference between the cars again favoring the buggy.” 

Taking it one step further, Toyota GAZOO Racing SA highlighted odd circle-shaped punctures on their tyres over the course of the Dakar. Has BFGoodrich found a cause of these punctures or where they solely linked to the rocky terrain? 

In response to the question, BFGoodrich said: “The Saudi terrain proved extremely rocky and the smaller AWD tyre combined with limited suspension travel highlighted the vehicle limitations.” In other words, the terrain and limited suspension travel could be the cause of these punctures. 

So, with the 2022 Dakar Rally on the horizon. Can we expect any changes? Well, BFGoodrich says they are “working with both manufacturers and sanctioning bodies” on a way forward. 

Having heard from Al-Attiyah among other drivers. They believe that tyres aren’t really to blame. So what do the two-wheel-drive buggies have that the 4x4 vehicles do not? 

Well, the buggies have a slightly wider wheel width, and an inflation-deflation system that they can control from the cockpit. Wait! There’s more… the buggies also have greater suspension travel compared to the 4x4 vehicles, which is a bonus on rocky terrain. 

Whilst it’s easy to place the blame on a tyre supplier, and in this case, it’s BFGoodrich. We need to remember that they are given a set of guidelines/regulations, and they construct the tyres and compounds around those set guidelines. So, if we solely blame the tyre supplier then we are completely misguided.  

Having said that it is rather deflating to put so much effort into building a race car only to have it lose valuable time and drop out of the fight due to punctures. So, moving away from it being a tyre supplier issue. There is only one thing it could be. Yes, you guessed right! There’s a clear regulatory issue, which solely rests with the FIA. 

There are currently talks ongoing behind the scenes between the ASO and the FIA regarding an increase in the size of tyres supplied to the 4x4 vehicles, but will we see the introduction of these tyres in 2022? That we do not know as yet. However, we have learned from a reliable source that 4x4 manufacturers/teams are currently modifying their vehicles to accommodate these “bigger tyres”, and with that being said we could get that confirmation closer to the time.

Will we see changes to the sporting regulations in 2022? That remains to be seen, but it’s clear that the ASO and the FIA acknowledge that the current regulations do in fact favour the two-wheel-drive buggies. 

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Tuesday 2 March 2021

Solberg has many reasons to smile after a spectacular WRC debut.

PHOTO CREDIT: Oliver Solberg Media
Oliver Solberg has many reasons to smile after delivering an outstanding performance at the Arctic Rally Finland over the weekend. 

Despite a seventh-place finish on debut, the 19-year-old Swede's performance on board the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC was nothing short of spectacular. Mistakes are to be expected from rookies, but Oliver handled it like a seasoned professional. 

With one stage to go on Sunday afternoon, he was on course for a top-three finish in the Wolf Power Stage, however, it was not to be as he spun in the final corner, which meant he lost sixth-place in the overall rankings by 1.2 seconds. 

Directly after the rally, Solberg was quick to thank Hyundai Motorsport Team Principal Andrea Adamo for the opportunity to make the step up to the WRC’s top flight.

"I don’t think I actually have the words to tell you how this feels," Oliver Solberg said. "It’s really unbelievable and the biggest thing I did in my career. To Andrea, to everybody in Hyundai Motorsport, and to the 2C [Compétition] team I just want to say thank you. 

"When Andrea talked about me doing this event, I was so excited. But at the same time, I was wondering a little bit in my mind, what will happen? How will it be?"

With a rallying career that started in 2017 (4-years-ago), Oliver answered all these questions and then some with his dynamite focus and quite astonishing speed. Having completed a couple of runs in the shakedown session to build his understanding of the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, he was bang on the pace from the get-go and was fourth fastest overall as early as the second stage. A day later, on Saturday morning, he went one better and bagged a top-three stage time. 

"I knew it would be complicated to understand the aero," he said. "But I was quite confident I would be happy at this speed. I didn’t expect to make these sort of times quite so early in the rally. It was just so much fun."

PHOTO CREDIT: Oliver Solberg Media.
Solberg reveals that he was told by Andrea Adamo (team principal) that he had no pressure and had to make sure he was smiling. "I am smiling more than I ever did before now," he says.

Having raced an R5 rally car for 3 years, the Swede was quite impressed by the overall grip and power of the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC. 

"The Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC was fantastic to drive, so much grip, so much power, and just so incredible to drive. When I was in the car and really in the middle of the event, I was just driving and not thinking so much to what everything really meant," he said. "But when I was between the stages and we were stopping behind [Sébastien] Ogier to change wheels and work on the car before the stage, I did stop a little bit and think: “Wow! This is just incredible – I’m here and I’m fighting with the world champion!"

"There were a couple of times when I was a little bit frustrated, like in the last stage. I made a spin near the finish and that cost me a sixth place. Sixth would have been nice, but I will take this result – in the top five on six stages out of 10. This is so much more than I could have dreamed of. It’s amazing. It’s unbelievable."

Hyundai Motorsport Team Principal Andrea Adamo has been left satisfied with his rookie's incredible progression throughout the event.

"I guess he enjoyed it a lot," Adamo said. "I think he has had an amazing rally, much better than what everyone expected."

"I think he did what we asked him to do – to enjoy, to enjoy it in the end. But in the end, I think he enjoyed to spin a bit in the snow. It’s good you know, I think he gave us all a breath of fresh air that is needed in the WRC world. So it’s good."

There is no doubt that Oliver will return to the World Rally Championship in the not too distant future, it's just a matter of which manufacturer will sign him up.