Hispano Suiza, best known for its production of luxury cars and engines for warplanes early in the 20th century, will join Extreme E’s inaugural season in 2021 as German squad HWA pulls out.
Spanish brand Hispano Suiza was at one point the pride of France via a subsidiary company when it came to motoring and motorsport, and its exploits in the latter even included victory at the fabled Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1928. Its return to racing in XE will come 100 years after its win in the first running of France’s Georges Boillot Cup endurance race.
HWA meanwhile is best known for its run of titles in the DTM, Germany’s international touring car series, and recently moved into single-seaters before announcing its intentions to enter XE. However it has “taken the difficult decision to postpone its entry in XE for economic and strategic reasons” and plans to enter the series in a later season.
Miguel Suqué Mateu, current chairman of Hispano Suiza and great-grandson of its founder Damián Mateu, explained why his historic brand is entering XE. The company, which can trace its roots back to 1904, will have a driver line-up consisting of Oliver Bennett and Christine Giampaoli Zonca in 2021.
“Hispano Suiza has always integrated values such as sportsmanship and competition into its DNA: both of vital importance for this project,” said Mateu.
“Being able to take our brand to the desert, the Polar Arctic Circle or the Amazon, and also do it in a competitive, sustainable way whilst taking care of our planet, is something magnificent that we will achieve in a competition as revolutionary as Extreme E.
“I wish to thank our partners and our technical team for their trust and our racing drivers, Oliver and Christine, since they are the ones who will allow us to continue fighting for victories and good results, just as we did 100 years ago.”
Bennett has been a World Rallycross Championship regular since 2018 driving a MINI Cooper, and claimed his career-best finish of 11th during the Barcelona double-header back in October. The 28-year-old was previously a star of the British Rallycross Championship and has also tried his hand at rallycross racing in America.
“This is one of the most special days of my life, and I am extremely proud to be part of the Hispano Suiza Energy Team,” said Bennett.
“Driving a Hispano Suiza is within the reach of very few people around the world, and I am delighted to be able to drive the most extreme of all, the HS Extreme E. This is a championship in which we will be required to push to show our full potential at every race, but at the same time we will be able to fight to make our planet a better place. I am sure that this is just the beginning of a great adventure for all of us.”
His XE team-mate, better known as Christine GZ, is a 27-year-old Italo-Spaniard rally driver who has spent much of her career in the Spanish and Canary Islands rally championships. She contested Rally Spain in 2016, the same year she won the Spanish Gravel Rally Championship’s women’s class, and after that she switched her focus to rally-raid. In the 2017 Baja 1000 in Mexico she came seventh in class, and was third in class the T2 category of this year’s Andalucía Road to Dakar Rally.
“I am very excited to be part of the Hispano Suiza Energy Team,” Giampaoli Zonca commented. “We are going to compete with a very powerful vehicle that represents the future of the automotive industry, 100% electric.
“We also have the opportunity to raise awareness about climate change by showing that you can race in some of the most remote places in the world without polluting the planet. I am very proud to work for such an innovative company as Hispano Suiza and I greatly appreciate the trust placed in me by Avatel.
“I think that having mixed teams will be a great opportunity to give female drivers more visibility and will contribute to have a stronger female presence in motorsport in the future. I am extremely happy to share a car with Oliver: he is a great driver; I have followed his career for a while now and I am sure that we are going to complement each other perfectly. Now I’m just looking forward to racing and doing my best for our team.”