Extreme E and Ken Block take on Dakar Rally

by Pontus Lindroos
Ken Block

World famous rally, rallycross and YouTube star Ken Block will be taking on his Dakar Rally stage and marking the first time competing in an all electric vehicle. Block will be joining the A.S.O squad on the final stage of the rally that takes place today.

Block hascompleted shakedowns with the Odyssey 21 to get familiar with the car before heading out for Grand Prix of Qiddiya, which is the final one of the twelve-day and 7000+ kilometres long Dakar Rally.

Extreme E
Credit: Extreme E

It’s my first time driving an electric race car, first time in Saudi Arabia and first time I’m driving in the Dakar Rally – it’s a lot of firsts for me and I get to figure it all out today!”

My whole career’s been spent driving combustion-engined cars with turbochargers – the type of driving there with left-foot braking and the spool of the turbo to try and get drive out of corners is entirely different. 

Here, you can be more progressive with the throttle and wait a little longer because the torque is there the second you get on the throttle – the thing just wants to leap forward. I’m having to tone down my style a little as the car reacts so quickly and the power delivery is so fast” Block said.

Extreme E got invited by the rally organisers with their Odyssey 21 E-SUV to take part on the last 20km long stage and will run in support of Dakar’s commitment to alternative energy vehicle participation in the future.

Extreme E
Credit: Extreme E

It’s been incredibly fun – I’m enjoying myself. Going 0-60mph in 4.5 seconds, despite the size of the vehicle and being on dirt, the ODYSSEY 21 is really impressive. Seeing performance and acceleration similar to the smaller cars I usually race is the most exciting thing for me.

It’s obviously had a lot of testing work and set-up work go into it already. To get the car feeling as far down the line as it does at this stage of its development is pretty incredible, and it has surprised me – it’s much further along than I’d anticipated. 

The development process is always incredibly taxing, from the initial design to the thousands and thousands of miles needed to get the car ready to race. Spark and Extreme E, and its partners, have done a fantastic job so far. There’s a lot of refinement to come but the potential is huge. The door-to-door, head-to-head racing is going to be extremely exciting.

Saudi Arabia’s stunningly beautiful, too. There’s an amazing desert landscape just half an hour from the capital, Riyadh. I’m so stoked to be here for this event and I’ve been so impressed by this whole experience. I’m very happy to be here.” Block added.

Ken Block
Credit: Extreme E

Odyssey 21 was earlier tested by FIA World RX driver and free skiing champion Guerlain Chicherit. The car has been put through its paces throughout an intensive development programme in Saudi Arabia. 

We took the decision really late to be here for the Dakar, so it’s been quite a process getting set up in the desert – learning how exactly to transport the car, where to drive it and dealing with the development programme itself,Théophile Gouzin, Technical Director at Spark Racing Technology said.

On Block being the driver to take ODYSSEY 21 out for its first ‘on-stage’ outing at an event of the Dakar Rally’s stature, Gouzin added: “He’s a serious guy who competes at the very top of our sport, and he’s someone perfectly suited to helping us develop the ODYSSEY 21 on-stage here at the Dakar Rally.”

We’re all very excited to see the Extreme E E-SUV taking on the final stage of the prestigious Dakar Rally.Alejandro Agag, Founder & CEO of Extreme E added.

On behalf of the whole team here at Extreme E, I would like to personally thank Ken Block for making the journey to join us out here for this historic moment in our series’ development. We are all behind him and hope he fully enjoys his first electric car outing. We’re confident it won’t be his last!”

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