Emma Gilmour will complete McLaren’s driver line-up for the 2022 Extreme E season, joining Tanner Foust at the team.
Gilmour, who has been making sporadic appearances for Veloce Racing in the all-electric off-road series this year, will become the first female driver in the company’s long history, as well as its first to hail from New Zealand since Denny Hulme in 1974.
McLaren was originally set up by Kiwis, with its name coming from founder Bruce McLaren.
“I’m incredibly honored to be McLaren Racing’s first female driver,” said Gilmour.
“Growing up in New Zealand, Bruce McLaren and McLaren Racing are seen as the pinnacles of motorsport.
“To be competing in XE next year with McLaren is a special opportunity. The series is a fantastic platform that represents equality and addresses the key issues affecting our planet and society.
“I’m looking to draw on my previous experience in XE alongside all my skills across rally, rallycross and cross-country rallying, that make me well-suited to the sport, to make a positive impact and inspire the next generation of female drivers and engineers. I can’t wait to get started with the team.”
McLaren – which unveiled its hand-drawn livery for the 2021 season by renowned artist Vic Lee at an event at the Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow, coinciding with the COP26 climate change summit – has already begun preparations for its maiden off-road racing campaign.
The team, which will comprise existing McLaren staff redeployed from other departments as well as new hires – including former Audi Le Mans engineer Leena Gade – recently had its Odyssey 21 delivered to the McLaren Technology Centre in England. Foust visited its headquarters last week to meet his new team for the first time.
“Emma completes our exciting and competitive driver line-up alongside Tanner Foust for our first season of XE,” McLaren Racing’s chief executive officer Zak Brown said.
“She’s a race winner and has proven herself this year in XE alongside a vast background in competitive off-roading in multiple racing series across the globe.
“It’s fitting that our first female driver originates from New Zealand where our founder Bruce McLaren was from.
“Being able to announce Emma and reveal our launch livery with his royal highness the Prince of Wales during COP26, given his track record in sustainability and promotion of STEM education and engineering, resonates with McLaren Racing’s commitment to sustainability, diversity and gender equality which are deeply-rooted in the team’s ethos.
“We’re looking forward to competing in XE’s second season to continue to educate ourselves on this journey of discovery and use our voice to shine a light on key issues impacting the world.”
Gilmour arrived in XE by joining Veloce as its female reserve driver for the inaugural 2021 season.
When Veloce’s regular female driver Jamie Chadwick had to step back from her XE commitments due to clashing rounds in her ultimately successful title defense of the W Series crown, Gilmour stepped in.
She was handed her debut alongside Stéphane Sarrazin in August’s Arctic X-Prix in Greenland, helping the team to a sixth-place finish, then appeared again in last month’s Island X-Prix in Sardinia where Veloce’s charge was halted by a spectacular crash for Sarrazin.