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Formula E Grand-Prix racing to rumble in Riyadh in drive for green

Formula E will make its Middle East debut in December with next season’s opening race set to take place in Saudi, according to CNN.

Formula E, officially the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, is a class of auto racing that uses only electric-powered cars.

An exact date for the inaugural race is yet to be confirmed, with the 2018/19 calendar still awaiting official confirmation from the FIA’s World Motorsport Council, according to motorsports, a news site.

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First time in history

But according to CNN, December’s Riyadh e-Prix will be the first to feature Formula E’s futuristic new Gen-22 car.

“Saudi Arabia is looking to the future, and Formula E is the motorsport of the future. That’s why this is such an exciting opportunity,” said Prince Abdulaziz, vice-chair of the Saudi Arabia general sports authority.

“It aligns perfectly with the country’s 2030 vision and offers the prospect of world-class racing on the streets of the capital for the first time in our history. For all fans, men, women, young and old, the dream of a hosting a ‘home race’ will now come true.”

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“Bringing racing to Riyadh for the first round of the new season is the perfect setting for the next phase of the Championship,” said Formula E founder and chief executive Alejandro Agag.

“An exciting and vibrant country that is focusing on its future, Saudi Arabia will be the ideal venue to mark the competitive debut of the next generation Formula E cars.”

Feel the Energy

“Many other sports are already increasing their presence in Saudi Arabia and we’re proud that they’ve chosen Formula E over other categories in racing,” Formula E founder and chief executive Alejandro Agag, told Reuters.

“Most countries are now looking to Formula E, especially Saudi Arabia which is concentrating on the development of new technologies, renewable energies and electric vehicles.”

 Saudi Arabia is targeting 9.5 gigawatts of annual renewable energy by 2023 in line with Vision 2030, an economic reform plan launched in 2016 to diversify the economy beyond oil, according to Reuters..

The renewable program involves investment of between $30 billion and $50 billion by 2023, it added.

Female drivers?

Since its inception in 2014, Formula E has long been heralded as forward-thinking, featuring some female drivers and helping develop the emissions-free technology of the future.

Among a number of restrictions that are being lifted as part of Saudi’s new vision is the end to a ban on women driving, while rules have also been eased on female spectators in sports stadiums.

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The 2018 Race of Champions, where stars from numerous motorsport disciplines compete against one another, took place at Riyadh’s King Fahd International Stadium in February.

Abdulaziz argued the 10-year partnership with Formula E would create a “lasting legacy for both the sport globally and the Kingdom.”

“This is the latest in a series of game-changing sports events that the people of Saudi Arabia will now be able to enjoy as families, with benefits that go far beyond the sport to deliver a positive impact across our society,” he said.