Kyle LeDuc has urged Extreme E series organizers to make the competition more spectacular ahead of next month’s second round, the Ocean X-Prix in Senegal.
The American, who has more than 100 off-road wins to his name, made the headlines when he crashed his Chip Ganassi Racing Odyseey 21 car into the back of Claudia Hürtgen’s ABT Cupra machine in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.
Talking to DirtFish earlier in what was a tricky debut weekend for the CGR squad, LeDuc said he wanted to see the organizers pushing the boundaries with Extreme E.
“We want nine cars to run at once,” said LeDuc, “we want people to be looking up when the next round is.
“We want people to be saying: “Oh, man, did you see that!” We want them to be bummed if they missed round one.
“We want contact, we want to rub, we want cars covered in sand – you want to see it and so do I!”
Racing was at a premium throughout the weekend however with Saturday’s two qualifying sessions turned into time trial events due to issues with dust.
Not everybody was in favor of racing through the dust on Sunday either and there were calls from some to adopt a time trial format instead of racing on Sunday too. But after prolonged debate, series founder Alejandro Agag made the call to go racing with three cars – originally the plan had been to run four and five on track.
“It’s Extreme E,” Agag told DirtFish.
“Safety is the priority, but racing is dangerous and these races are dangerous. That’s why we call it extreme. Otherwise we call it Chess E.”
Others changes were afoot as well. LeDuc and his Ganassi team-mate Sara Price were the prime movers in getting a late change in the specification of wheels used in Extreme E, when Vision beadlock rims were introduced in place of the planned OZ wheels.
“Sara and I grew up living and playing the sand,” he said. “We have some pull and some say here and we’re really happy in sharing this information – we want this thing to be insane.
“It’s not the [rim] manufacturer’s fault, it’s the series’ fault for not getting the right rim. We don’t want tires coming off the rims, we want to go racing.
“They [Extreme E] may know racing and rallying, but this is a rookie series. Formula 1 and Formula E is narrow, but this is a very broad spectrum.”
LeDuc admitted – unlike his team-mate Price – he did not have to Google the names of the European-based racers around him. He knows who Jenson Button is.
“Are you kidding me?” he said, “I am a huge F1 fan! You know, this is not a for-fun thing to do, this is a big program.
“I’m looking left and right and pinching myself about who’s sitting next to me. My dad did Dakar six times, so to be racing against [Sébastien] Loeb and [Carlos] Sainz is amazing – and, even more, to have people telling us we were potential winners was just f****** crazy!”
Chip Ganassi Racing is eighth in the championship after the first weekend, 24 points behind leaders Rosberg X Racing.