Junior World Rally Championship competitor Catie Munnings has become the latest to join the drivers’ program of Extreme E, the forthcoming all-electric off-road championship.
She joins Simona de Silvestro, Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky, Jamie Chadwick, and Katherine Legge among the leading female drivers expressing an interest in competing in Extreme E. The series recently confirmed an equal male-female split for its driver line-ups and its inaugural campaign is set to kick off in January next year.
“Extreme E’s races are all in incredible locations and I can’t wait for the challenge of mastering all those different types of surfaces and conditions. I see it as a natural progression and a very exciting prospect,” Munnings said.
“The high level of competition that I think we’re going to see in the series is one big draw as a driver but I’m really inspired by the sustainability and equality aspects of Extreme E and its overall goals – with all the work that will take place to help change the world for the better.
“Achieving something this important through competition would mean a lot for motorsport.
“I would jump at the opportunity to race in any of the locations, so to include them all in one championship is fantastic. The one that stands out to me at a first glance would be the Amazon – I just cannot imagine seeing the car racing in those environments, but why not?”
Munnings’ rallying career has so far been spent exclusively competing in front-wheel-drive machinery at both a European and World level, but she is hoping to get a chance to drive Extreme E’s radically different Odyssey 21 all-electric SUV.
“I don’t know what to expect fully,” she added. “I can imagine the car is able to drive in a way you couldn’t quite envisage given its size and presence, on surfaces you wouldn’t think it could be capable of performing on.
“Certainly, from what I’ve seen from Ken Block’s Dakar outing and testing, and the feedback that others have reported in with, I cannot wait to sample it for myself – I’d love to experience it.
“Once I test and get a good feeling for it, then I’ll know which skills I can adapt from rally and which I need to learn from scratch.
“I read that Théo Gouzin from Spark [Spark Racing Technology – the Odyssey 21’s designer and manufacturer] said the cars have the power and torque of World Rally Championship and rally raid cars. That would be very impressive and quite surreal to feel in something in the size and package of an SUV.”
Extreme E’s goal of highlighting the effects of climate change is another appealing factor for Munnings.
“Every aspect of life is affected by climate change. This is true now and will only become even more pressing in the years to come,” she said.
“This includes motorsport. It’s vital for us to remember that we only have one planet and we have to take good care of it – not only for us but for future generations, too.
“Extreme E’s goal of making a link between the sport we love and doing something incredibly important and constructive for the world is a massive thing.
“Every form of motorsport is looking to make positive environmental changes, and Extreme E’s foundations are set in sustainability and raising awareness as well as driving that change. It’s an exciting time for the industry.”