Techeetah delays Extreme E entry due to COVID-19 disruption
The Techeetah team has postponed its entry for the inaugural season of Extreme E as a result of the lasting disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Techeetah had to yet create a website or announce either of its female-male driver pairing for the all-electric SUV off-road racing series with less than a month remaining until the maiden Desert X-Prix event in Saudi Arabia across 3-4 April.
Although owned by the Indover Group - an Indonesian investment and private equity company focused on green technologies - the Techeetah Extreme E team falls under the management of SECA.
The Chinese public equity firm owns the DS Techeetah Formula E race team, which has won the most recent two constructors’ titles in the single-seater championship.
It also fielded an entry for the Jaguar I-PACE eTrophy support championship, running with a 'Silk Cut' livery homage to the Tom Walkinshaw Racing XJRs that earned Le Mans-winning success in Group C sportscars.
A statement from Extreme E listed ongoing travel restrictions as the principal reason behind the deferred Techeetah entry.
The statement read: “The team, owned by the Indonesian Indover Group, has cited the COVID-19 pandemic the deciding factor in the decision, with global travel restrictions meaning they couldn’t get to Europe to test their car and drivers or make the necessary preparations required.”
However, the team “remains committed to competing in Extreme E in a later race” and a formal announcement is expected on the squad’s future participation in the “coming weeks”.
Autosport understands that, during a recent Extreme E team manager meeting, fellow competitors were informed that Techeetah could still make its debut for the second round - the Ocean X-Prix in Senegal across 29-30 May.
Techeetah was itself a replacement for the Venturi Racing concern, which became the first team to commit to Extreme E but later pulled out to focus on an “innovative programme around space travel”.
It still leaves nine teams to contest the opening round, with the driver line-up now complete after Jenson Button’s JBXE squad announced Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky as team-mate to the 2009 Formula 1 world champion.
Ahlin-Kottulinsky has been an Extreme E test driver for sole tyre supplier Continental, previously racing in the Scirocco R-Cup Germany series and in rallycross events.
The 28-year-old Swede also counts experience from the TCR-based Scandinavian Touring Car Championship - becoming the first female to win a race in the series - plus ADAC GT Masters and Audi Sport TT Cup outings.
Championship founder and chief executive officer Alejandro Agag said: “Her work with Continental has been integral to helping create the championship tyre, and while she is the latest to join the party, I’m sure that her previous knowledge and her early experience in the car will help her get stuck in quickly.”
Final Extreme E driver line-up:
Abt Cupra: Claudia Hurtgen/Mattias Ekstrom
Acciona/Sainz: Laia Sanz/Carlos Sainz Sr
Andretti United: Catie Munnings/Timmy Hansen
Chip Ganassi Racing: Sara Price/Kyle Leduc
Hispano Suiza: Christine Giampaoli Zonca/Oliver Bennett
JBXE: Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky/Jenson Button
Rosberg X Racing: Molly Taylor/Johan Kristoffersson
Veloce Racing: Jamie Chadwick/Stephane Sarrazin
X44: Cristina Gutierrez/Sebastien Loeb
Vergne opted not to compete in Extreme E as he ‘could not fight for wins’
Double DTM champion Scheider signed as XE reserve driver