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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Alasdair Hooper

Catie Munnings on Extreme E's climate change mission ahead of Jurassic X Prix finale

With the Formula 1 finale still fresh in the memory - controversy aside - you’d be forgiven for thinking the glitz, glamour and drama was replicated across all forms of motor racing.

But not in Extreme E.

“I didn’t have a towel the whole evening!” says British rally driver Catie Munnings, recalling one race weekend in the middle of the Saudi Arabian desert.

The clue is in the name. It’s supposed to be extreme and for anyone who has witnessed any of the inaugural championship so far that’s exactly what it has proved to be.

It has also proven to be unpredictable, not least from the scheduling point of view with this Saturday’s final round - the Jurassic X Prix - taking place in Dorset. It should have been in South America but the pandemic put paid to that.

Munnings, however, has been front and centre of every twist and turn so far during Extreme E’s very first outing as a championship. The 24-year-old Red Bull athlete currently sits third in the leaderboard with her Andretti United team-mate Timmy Hansen and it has been an unforgettable journey.

“Sport can get really predictable with the same teams winning, or where the same car is faster, whereas this has become a bit more like the olden days of motorsport,” she says.

“It’s been really pure and it’s been exciting going through strategies with the team, figuring out how to have the edge and those decisions have really made a big difference.

“We’re all running with the same car and the racing format is literally changing overnight.

“I think the biggest thing that I’ve learned is how to deal with handling the pressure but in an environment that you can’t really prepare for a lot.”

'You actually realise how your actions affect the whole world'

As well as being ‘Extreme’ the racing locations serve another purpose - they are all selected to raise awareness for some aspect of climate change.

That is the main message Extreme E has been designed to promote, as well as to encourage social and environmental support for those locations.

As a result that presents all new challenges for the drivers and their teams - and why racing in the Saudi Arabian desert without a towel is world’s away from the glamour of other motorsport series.

“That’s one of the things we have to remember is the places we are racing are really remote,” says Munnings.

“We take our own water with us, we are taking our own plates, our own cutlery so we’re not using one-use plastics and it’s actually really interesting learning from that side.

“In Greenland [the location of the Arctic X Prix] the population of the town is 400-450 people so even just trying to find transport in those locations to get us to the track - there’s so many challenges.

“We ended up on an Arctic exhibition bus, which was pretty surreal, but actually racing in those locations has been amazing.”

With a glacier and a desert already on the list of racing locations you’d be forgiven for thinking why the Jurassic X Prix’s location of Dorset was a logical next step.

While it may have been a last-minute change in location there is also a purpose to hosting the final round here in the UK.

“When I heard we were doing one in the UK the first thing I thought was ‘that’s not very remote’,” explains Munnings.

“We’ve been talking about racing in locations affected by climate change. I’ve got really close to some of the scientists we have - Extreme E has a scientific committee and they choose our race locations based on areas they feel is most affected by climate change.

“We were meant to be in Argentina but obviously with travel restrictions it was on the red list so the championship made the decision not to go there.

“They changed it to the UK and I was speaking to the scientists and saying we don’t really have that many issues in the UK with climate change.

“They were saying, actually, think how interlinked everything is. When we were in the arctic taking samples of the ice - it had tiny black dots on it - they were studying it and they said it’s actually carbon that has blown over from North America because of all the wildfires they’ve had there.

“To reach all the way to the ice there and settle, that’s how the climate is.

“When we think about the UK, the messaging there is the reduction in species. It’s important to recognise, and to bring some attention to people watching in the UK, that it’s on our doorstep.

“I’ve been really guilty in the past of pushing it away but you actually realise how your actions affect the whole world and we need to start looking at it as it’s happening everywhere.”

'I’ve learned to trust myself a lot more'

As well as learning about the climate, and the seriousness of the situation we face, Extreme E has given Munnings a platform to develop herself.

The daughter of rally driver Chris Munnings, she shot to fame after winning the FIA European Rally Championship Ladies Trophy at the age of 18 but she still has so much potential in the future.

“I’ve learned to trust myself a lot more and not to doubt myself so much,” she says.

“In a championship like this where me and Timmy were two of the first drivers to be announced, then people like Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton have teams - I’m racing against Jenson Button and Sebastien Loeb - these are all of the names that I’ve grown up watching on TV as a kid or watching rallying with my dad.

“These are the people who were at the top of their game and, I had a conversation with Timmy at the start of the year, and he said ‘remember on the track, don’t think about who’s next to you’.

“You have to realise that you’ve got great respect off the track but on the track you have to give yourself credit that you can drive as well.

“It’s been a confidence boost this year for both Timmy and I as it’s a completely new format for us - me rallying and him rallycross.

“Also, touching on the environmental stuff, that speaks to how much I’m learning. I was nowhere near as aware as I am now and I’m preaching to all my friends and want it to be more in schools.

“I’ve really been shocked by what I’ve learned - if it was more mainstream and we talked about it more often - then, I think everyone would have more of a responsibility towards it.”

  • To find out more about Catie Munnings, head to her athlete profile page on

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