Extreme E’s grid will consist of nine teams in its debut season following the announcement of a new entrant, which will replace HWA, which has postponed its entry into the all-electric off-road series.
Hispano Suiza Xite Energy Team will contest the inaugural season, which kicks off next year in Saudi Arabia as part of a five-round calendar which will take in four continents.
Hispano Suiza is a Spanish automotive company founded in 1904, best known for its pre-World War II luxury cars and aviation engines.
It will link-up with energy drinks company Xite Energy to form the Hispano Suiza Xite Energy Team and will field a young driver line-up consisting of Oliver Bennett and Christine Giampaoli Zonca.
Bennett, 28, is a British driver with experience in rallycross competitions. In 2016 he made his debut in the British Rallycross Championship and the following season he fought for the title. He also made his debut in the FIA World Rallycross Championship, where he has competed in recent seasons. Bennett has also participated in a number of Americas Rallycross events and the Gymkhana GRID in Cape Town in 2018.
Giampaoli Zonca, better known as Christine GZ, is a 27-year-old Italian-Canary driver. In 2014, in her full-time debut in competition, she achieved her first victory in a gravel rally, and that same year she was proclaimed regional champion of the Canary Islands in front-wheel drive vehicles, as well as in group B4.
In 2016 she made her debut in the World Rally Championship (WRC) at Rally de Catalunya, as a member of the first all-female rally team, and won the women’s category of the Spanish Gravel Rally Championship. Since 2017, Giampaoli’s career has been focused on participating in off-road races, in the United States and Mexico, where she achieved seventh place in the famous Baja 1000, within the Pro UTV Turbo category.
In 2020 she became the main driver of Avatel Racing Team, achieving 3rd place in the T2 category in the Andalucía Road to Dakar Rally.
“I welcome the legendary Spanish brand HISPANO SUIZA, founded in 1904 by the Suqué Mateu family, to the Extreme E Championship,” commented Extreme E founder Alejandro Agag.
“True to its tradition and racing history, this time, it returns to motorsport looking to the future, to the electrification of mobility. I am convinced that the HISPANO SUIZA team will honour the great tradition of their name, and will be a formidable competitor in our championship, the most remote sporting event on the planet.”
“This is one of the most special days of my life, and I am extremely proud to be part of the HISPANO SUIZA XITE ENERGY TEAM,” added driver Bennett. “Driving a HISPANO SUIZA is within the reach of very few people around the world, and I am delighted to be able to drive the most extreme of all, the HS Extreme E.
“This is a Championship in which we will be required to push to show our full potential at every race, but at the same time we will be able to fight to make our planet a better place. I am sure that this is just the beginning of a great adventure for all of us.”
Christine GZ added: “I am very excited to be part of the HISPANO SUIZA XITE ENERGY TEAM. We are going to compete with a very powerful vehicle that represents the future of the automotive industry, 100% electric. We also have the opportunity to raise awareness about climate change by showing that you can race in some of the most remote places in the world without polluting the planet.
“I think that having mixed teams will be a great opportunity to give female drivers more visibility and will contribute to have a stronger female presence in motorsport in the future. I am extremely happy to share a car with Oliver: he is a great driver; I have followed his career for a while now and I am sure that we are going to complement each other perfectly. Now I’m just looking forward to racing and doing my best for our team.”