Emma Gilmour and Leena Gade join McLaren XE for 2022 Extreme E campaign
A big name is joining Extreme E for the series' second season: McLaren. With an already-announced driver line-up and two leading female figures - Emma Gilmour and engineering icon Leena Gade.
Extreme E will enter its second season in 2022 and a new important name in motor racing is set to join the grid: McLaren XE is in fact set to become the tenth competitor.
During the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, the new team's livery of the Odyssey 21 was revealed, with the famous orange being highlighted by black drawings of the different Extreme E venues.
"Our decision to enter Extreme E will inform and enlighten our own journey of discovery and is underpinned by a clear imperative to accelerate McLaren Racing’s own sustainability which places carbon reduction, recycling and reuse and elimination of waste at its core. Our ambition is to help drive and champion the sport and industry agenda forward, in partnership with all our stakeholders, to positively contribute to a truly sustainable future."
The team will partner with leading Canadian motorsport and engineering company Multimatic for their journey in the all-electric offroad series.
Drivers of the McLaren Odyssey21 SUV have already been announced and will be Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour.
Foust is a 3 time champion of the American Rallycross series, was runner-up in the European Rallycross series 2011 and won a race in WRX 2014 in Sweden. Additionally, he is also a stunt driver and participated in many big movie productions like the Bourne series, Fast & Furious and the Iron Man saga.
In the US, he is especially popular as the co-moderator for famous automotive TV show Top Gear.
Emma Gilmour will be the first ever female McLaren driver. The 41-year old driver is a strong addition to the team: a versatile racer with rally, rallycross and cross country experience, she secured a scholarship in 2006 to contest her first international series - the Ford Fiesta Sporting Trophy. She famously achieved a stage win in Finland in the FIA World Rally Championship support series and entered further WRC events in Germany and the UK.
Gilmour continued her boundary-breaking career by becoming the first ever female to finish in the top-3 in the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship in 2009, before claiming the Vice-Champion title in the New Zealand Rally Championship from 2010 to 2012.
In a factory Hyundai entry, Gilmour switched to rally-cross in 2014, reaching the top echelons in both Global Rallycross and X Games events, competing against Ken Block, Nelson Piquet Jr and Scott Speed among the others.
Her achievements were awarded with the prestigious FIA Women In Motorsport selection in 2015, before she expanded her resumé to cross country events of the likes of the Portugal Baja.
In 2021, she had her first taste of Extreme E when she joined Veloce Racing as reserve driver and then stepped in for Jamie Chadwick in the two latest events when the British racer was unavailable due to W Series commitments. Gilmour showed good pace and quick adaptation to the car.
"Super excited and honoured to announce I have a team drive in the 2022 Extreme E series for the McLaren XE team." - commented Gilmour.
"As a New Zealander, I have always been proud of the legacy of Bruce McLaren and of the Formula 1 team he founded. As a rally driver, rather than a single-seater circuit racer, I never ever dreamed that I would one day be part of the McLaren story. I have to admit, the whole experience feels surreal and I have to keep pinching myself!"
"She’s a race winner and has proven herself this year in Extreme E alongside a vast background in competitive off-roading in multiple racing series across the globe." - echoed Zak Brown, McLaren CEO. "It’s fitting that our first female driver originates from New Zealand where our founder Bruce McLaren was from."
And last but not least, McLaren XE committed to another inspiring female figure for its Extreme E campaign: Leena Gade will be Multimatic's lead engineer.
Leena Gade is one of the most famous and successful female engineers in motorsport, having been employed in leading engineering roles in WEC and IndyCar. She was the first ever female race engineer to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2011, bringing Audi Sport Team Joest and drivers André Lotterer, Benoît Tréluyer and Marcel Fässler to the historic success.
She was able to repeat this achievement in 2012 and 2014. In 2012, Leena Gade won the WEC "Man of the Year" Award and the C&R Racing Women in Technology award. She was named ambassador for the FIA Commission for Women in Motorsport in 2013.
Now, Gade will play a major role in the McLaren all-new Extreme E adventure, as the manufacturer will pursue victories. The 2022 five event-calendar is set to start from 19th to 20th February in Saudi-Arabia.