By Alan Baldwin
LONDON, May 6 (Reuters) – Chip Ganassi Racing will take on U.S. track rivals Andretti Autosport in electric racing next year after being announced on Wednesday as the latest team to sign up for the Extreme E off-road SUV series.
Ganassi’s involvement is a step in a new direction for an outfit with considerable success in NASCAR, IndyCar and sportscar racing on both sides of the Atlantic.
“Extreme E is a very different proposition to anything we have done before, but it’s where I think motor racing is headed in the future,” founder and link owner Chip Ganassi said in a statement.
“When I started our team in 1990, one of the founding principles I built it on was innovation.
“I’ve always been passionate about pushing the boundaries of what is possible, and Extreme E checks that box for us in a big way,” he added.
The brainchild of Formula E founder Alejandro Agag and former Indianapolis 500 winner Gil de Ferran, Extreme E aims to highlight climate change and issues such as deforestation, rising sea levels, desertification, and plastic pollution.
Races, filmed for television as ‘docu-sport’ without spectators, will be held in some of the world’s most remote and harsh environments including the Brazilian rain forest, Greenland, deserts of Saudi Arabia and mountains of Nepal.
Ganassi are four times winners of the Indianapolis 500, eight times IndyCar champions and have also enjoyed endurance success at Daytona, Sebring and Le Mans.
Andretti, whose involvement was announced last month, have racked up five Indianapolis 500 wins and four IndyCar series titles.
The BMW i Andretti team also compete in the all-electric Formula E championship.
Ganassi are the seventh team signed up for Extreme E. Apart from Andretti, the others are Mercedes-linked HWA, Monaco-based Venturi, Abt Sportsline, Britain’s Veloce and Spain’s QEV Technologies.
“(Ganassi) has proven itself to be a winner in every discipline it has contested and clearly possesses the skillset to similarly excel in Extreme E,” said Agag.
“And then, of course, there is the competitive edge with Andretti Autosport…it will be fascinating to see how that plays out.”
There will eventually be slots for up to 12 teams but Agag has said he expects there to be only eight competing in the first year.
Extreme E has said each competing car will have a male and female driver. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, Editing by William Maclean)