How ‘extreme’ is Extreme E’s final location?

DirtFish was on the ground for a school trip-like day - centered around beavers


After canceling rounds in Argentina and Brazil and replacing them with the south coast of England, Extreme E really had to prove the extremeness of its title-deciding Dorset location as it reconvened in a nature reserve.

The track itself lies on a Ministry of Defense-owned tank testing area, but Wednesday’s press activities took place on a heath 17.8 miles east, half a mile away from England’s oldest nudist beach. Now that bit did look pretty extreme.

To kick off the action, members of the National Trust – in charge of looking after the Purbeck Heaths ‘super’ nature reserve that runs from the coast to the track – explained that it takes a biogeographer or a conservationist’s eye to see how extreme the area is.

There are animal, fungi and plant species that can’t be found anywhere else in England, including a local wasp that makes its own clay pots to lay eggs in, carnivorous flowers and even sand lizards in the dunes by the beach.

The diversity of habitat that has enabled the diversity of wildlife has diminished over the last 100 years, despite various forms of protection, but it is still one of the most nature-rich lowland areas in the United Kingdom and has the most biodiverse 10 square kilometres in the country.

DirtFish encountered some of that wildlife en route, having a close encounter with two buzzards, but the animal that XE really wanted people talking about was beavers.

Three pairs are set to be taken from Scotland to live in the area next year, and the job of the drivers on Wednesday was to prepare the habitat for them by building a river-side lodge.

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DirtFish came even more prepared though, bringing a beaver of our own – primed for photo opportunities and extreme activities. Named Sigourney Beaver, it proved a hit with all involved.

Beavers are a disruptive animal that change the climate they live in with their engineering skills. This is slightly different to the usual aim of fighting climate change in previous XE legacy programs, and the beavers have to be ‘culturally appropriate’ to be accepted by local people as they reshape the landscape around them as they eat and build.

They will only arrive too if a license is given, as the National Trust cannot “drive up in the dark of night, kidnap some beavers from Scotland and BAM, there you go”.

The wood, hay and corrugated metal beaver lodge was so impressive that it even made some drivers jealous.

Joining some of the XE grid in its pre-weekend activities were year 11 students [16-year-olds] from the nearby The Swanage School, who are making their own electric racing car. Their combined lodge-building efforts made for speedy work, and a nice shelter for Sigourney Beaver, but the National Trust has already been working two years on its beaver project and waiting for the progress XE’s money will no doubt help with.

But still not very extreme. In fact, the day was pretty much choreographed to be like a school trip. And what is a school trip without a warning from the teacher?

“Studland was used during World War Two, there may be some remnants of WW2 lying around. if you’re digging and see some metal… do not pick it up.”

That’s more like it.

There’s a bit of automotive history to the wide area too, with the Sunseeker Rally running special stages not too far away, and the River Frome flows to the town of the same name which has produced a Formula 1 world champion – JBXE’s Jenson Button. But the day was mostly about beavers.

There was none of the big hitters of XE present, whether that be World Rally champions or the series founder Alejandro Agag, but those who did turn up thoroughly enjoyed themselves in surprisingly warm conditions (even extreme winter weather was denied) and directly inspired some future racers and engineers.

The wood, hay and corrugated metal beaver lodge was so impressive that it even made some drivers jealous.


“It’s bigger than my house,” mulled JBXE racer Kevin Hansen, who also contests the World Rallycross Championship and Nitro Rallycross as well as XE. “I basically live in a suitcase.”

After building the lodge, everyone headed down to the beach – fully clothed – to learn about why the dunes weren’t sandy enough.

Visually they looked very sandy, but it was determined as much as the heather and vegetation growing there needed to be trampled on and so DirtFish did its best impression of a Molly Taylor roll by ‘scraping’ the surface (their term, not ours) with a very long tumble down a dune which was caught in slow-motion.


A lot was done to showcase the location, the environmental story that is unfolding and which XE can play an part in the next chapter of, and to tap into nostalgia (or a treat for the actual school students) by co-ordinating the day to be structured like a school trip.

But the most memorable part and the star of the show was DirtFish’s Sigourney Beaver who was summoned to appear in almost every driver’s social media posts, was part of the day’s photography billing and ended up living up to its name by re-enacting a scene from Alien.

We’ll chalk that up as a successful day.