WRC legend Sebastien Loeb joins Lewis Hamilton's X44 XE team

Nine-time World Rally champion Sebastien Loeb will race for the X44 team founded by Lewis Hamilton in the inaugural 2021 season of the Extreme E all-electric championship

WRC legend Sebastien Loeb joins Lewis Hamilton's X44 XE team

The signing of Loeb marks another major coup for the fledgling series founded by Formula E co-creator Alejandro Agag, with Hamilton and his ex-Mercedes Formula 1 team-mate and fellow world champion Nico Rosberg both entering teams for XE.

Loeb also joins a high-profile initial driver line-up for the maiden five-round calendar that includes two-time WRC champion Carlos Sainz Sr, double DTM title winner Mattias Ekstrom and triple World Rallycross champion Johan Kristoffersson.

The French driver, who will be 47 come the first event in Saudi Arabia, is also a race winner at World Touring Car, World RX and FIA GT level.

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"Joining team X44 is an opportunity for me to continue to do what I love, which is race, and I'm looking forward to competing in an electric vehicle - I had the chance to drive the car recently and it is incredible," said Loeb.

"I am really impressed by what Lewis is doing in Formula 1 too, so to be able to work with him on this is an honour."

Loeb has already driven the standardised ODYSSEY 21 machine, having taken part in a shakedown at the Chateau de Lastours in southern France in October.

There, he tested the car alongside Sainz and current Mercedes grand prix driver Valtteri Bottas.

Although the presence of all three was meant to remain private, both Bottas and Loeb's participation was made public in the following days.

X44 has also revealed its female competitor as Dakar Rally regular and 2015 Spanish National All Terrain Rally Championship runner-up Cristina Gutierrez.

In 2017, she became the first Spanish female ever to finish the Dakar event -fifth out of the debutantes -and two years later moved up to the prototype class to record her best result of 26th- with Loeb third for Peugeot.

Both X44 drivers have also recently tested the ODYSSEY on Donington Park off-road stages.

Hamilton said: "I'm delighted to welcome Sebastien and Cristina to X44.

"They are both incredible drivers and I'm looking forward to seeing what they're going to do out there at each race.

"Cristina is an upcoming talent with a great future ahead of her, and Sebastien is a driver I have admired for so many years so I'm so proud and excited to have them on board."

The ABT team also announced this week the signing of Claudia Hurtgen - the 1995 Austrian Touring Car champion and a class winner in the 24 Hours of Daytona and Le Mans - alongside Ekstrom.

2021 Extreme E driver line-up

ABT: Mattias Ekstrom; Claudia Hurtgen

Acciona: Carlos Sainz Sr; Laia Sanz

Andretti United: Timmy Hansen; Catie Munnings

Chip Ganassi Racing: Kyle Leduc; Sara Price

HWA: TBA

Rosberg Xtreme Racing: Johan Kristoffersson; Molly Taylor

Techeetah: TBA

Veloce Racing: Jamie Chadwick; TBA

X44: Sebastien Loeb; Cristina Gutierrez

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Author Matt Kew
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