Isles ready to step in as location for ‘green-prix’
Council bosses in the Western Isles have confirmed they are in talks over holding a "Green Prix", with teams including those headed by seven times F1 champion Lewis Hamilton.
The islands are set to benefit from a revved-up Covid dividend in staging one of the most prestigious, newest – and cleanest – motorsport races after organisers pulled out of the more exotic locations of Brazil and Argentina because of the pandemic.
Instead the islands are on a shortlist of ten alternatives – the only place in the UK being considered – but are understood to be the main contender for one of the cancelled races.
A visit to Scotland would tie in with Glasgow hosting the United Nations Climate Change Conference in November.
Sardinia has just been named as one of the two replacements with racing between October 23 and 24, leaving the isles as a main contender to host the other race, either later this year or, more likely, next.
The Extreme E series started this year with teams, three of which are owned by F1 champions Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Jenson Button, racing all-electric, off-road SUVs in extreme environments around the world that are being impacted by climate change.
Deserts, glaciers, rainforests – the places Extreme E visits are wildly different but have a common theme, highlighting the issue of climate change and its impact on various regions around the world.
Greenland will host the next series on August 28 and 29.
The series has consulted with ecological experts to ensure the impact of its presence in these areas will be kept to a minimum, while scientists will also travel with the teams to investigate the effects of climate change.
Transportation of people and equipment to each region will be via an ex-Royal Mail cargo ship – the RMS St Helena – which has been modified to act as a 'floating paddock'.
There are also plans to ensure the series leaves a lasting legacy in each of the areas it heads to, including tree-planting, clean-up operations and solar-power initiatives.
There will be no spectators. Instead, the whole series will be broadcast on television and streamed online, with filming done by drones rather than helicopters.
Extreme E will also create documentaries on each of the races' locations to highlight the issues they face.
A spokesman for Western Isles Council confirmed that organisers visited the islands in May.
"They looked at various locations and seemed impressed; discussions are continuing," he said.
But it is understood that the isles are in pole position to land the next announced event, mainly because of difficulties over many of the other possible locations caused by the fast moving pandemic's variants.
Talks are also believed to be taking place with VisitScotland and the Scottish Government.
Extreme E also confirmed it was actively considering the islands. “As a result of the postponement of Extreme E’s South American X-Prix races, we are working on confirming replacement locations," a spokesperson said. “They include the Outer Hebrides, Iceland, Finland, Morocco, Egypt, Italy, Andorra, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Russia.”