Bennett’s XITEENERGYRACING ready to deliver on early-season promise in Sardinia
As one of the most climate-focused racing drivers in the world Oli Bennett is looking forward to Extreme E’s arrival in Europe at next week’s Island X Prix in Sardinia (October 23/24).
While it might sound like a contradiction to talk of a climate-focused racing driver, Bristolian Bennett is just that.
Most days he divides his time between working on his XITEENERGY brand to develop the planet’s healthiest, naturally caffeinated nootropic power drinks and energy bars and Bee Green Energy, his renewable energy firm which specialises in onshore windfarms and solar power.
To promote both, he goes racing. But he goes racing in Extreme E (XE), the world’s first all-electric, off-road series dedicated to raising awareness of climate change. And when he’s not charging about Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Greenland and now Sardinia in the world’s most watched SUV, he’s competing in Nitro Rallycross (NRX) in America.
NRX will include one of the most forward-thinking and exciting electric categories ever next season. And that’s where you’ll find Oli come 2022.
But for now, he’s taking his XITEENERGYRACING powered by myenergi/Hispano Suiza team to the Italian island and Extreme E round four.
And he’s heading there with a very precise goal (beyond promoting sustainability, the good and the green). After coming close to the final of all three XE rounds run so far, he and team-mate Christine Giampaoli Zonca (GZ) are determined to make the final race and a shot at a maiden podium in the series.
Oli said: “We’re really hoping and aiming for a place in the final – we’ve been close twice. In Saudi Arabia and at the last round in Greenland we were extremely close and were let down with some technical issues. Without those I think we could have been in the final. And once you’re in the final, anything can happen.
“I think we’ve been unlucky so far, hopefully that turns around in Sardinia. We know what we’re in for with the Island X Prix: it’ll be more of the same with some really difficult off-road conditions. I’m sure it will be demanding on the car, so we have to think about managing the speed with efficiency and avoid any damage. If we can do that, I think we have to be looking at the final.
“As always, it’s going to be extreme, but we’re looking forward to it and the team are prepared to put in a good performance. Me and GZ have been doing a lot of testing and driving in conditions similar to what we’re expecting in Sardinia, so we go there feeling pretty good.”
Oli admitted the lack of seat time was a frustration for all the crews in this inaugural XE season.
“Every driver in every championship wants more seat time and more performance,” he said. “GZ and me? We’re no different.
“We will focus on what we’re doing and just try to stay out of trouble – that’s not always easy, because it’s so unpredictable with the terrain and the damage that can be sustained to the cars, sometimes it’s not even the driver’s fault. So it’s difficult to look at what other teams are doing, although we are trying to keep a close eye on everybody’s set up.
“Some teams seem to be pulling an advantage on us in the set-up of the car, which is probably down to experience; with these off-road vehicles, our team probably has less experience and fewer engineers to look at that kind of data.
“It’s going to be an adventure – XE always it. And that’s just the way XITEENERGYRACING likes it.”
Next week’s off-road Italian action runs in an army training area at Capo Teulada in Sulcis-Iglesiente, in the south-west of the island.
Oli’s XITEENERGYRACING powered by myenergi ODYSSEY 21 Power: 400kw/550bhp Torque: 920Nm 0-60mph: 4.5 seconds Top speed: 124mph Weight: 1780kg Length: 4.4 metres Width: 2.3 meters Suspension: double wishbone, 3-way adjustable damper Brakes: Six-piston Alcon Steering: Electric power steering Tyres: Continental
The XITEENERGYRACING powered by myenergi ODYSSEY 21 is one of nine purpose-built e-SUVs competing in season one of Extreme E. All nine identical cars are built by Spark Racing Technology and incorporate a niobium-reinforced steel alloy tubular frame as well as a bespoke safety cell and roll cage. The battery is produced by Williams Advanced Engineering, while Continental provides the tyres.