Extreme E has revealed its ‘GridPlay’ fan engagement concept, which allows the team that secures the most votes to choose its grid position for the final race of each round.
The race format of the all-electric SUV off-road championship is similar to that used in rallycross, whereby each X-Prix will be broken down into qualifying heats, two semi-finals and a final.
With the introduction of ‘GridPlay’, viewers can select their favourite of the eight teams signed up for the inaugural season and the winner of the popular vote can choose their starting position for the final.
Teams that do not progress through to the final can share their votes with their preferred opponent, while the remainder of the grid is set by the points scored during the previous heats.
XE founder and chief executive Alejandro Agag said: “As a series we are looking for innovative ways to engage fans making them feel part of Extreme E, and have a voice when it comes to racing, particularly as we won’t have spectators on site as part of our sustainability endeavours.
“This makes the way we broadcast our championship even more important and people can watch the action on a variety of global channels and through our digital platforms.”
The announcement of a fan engagement element follows the fanboost trend set by Formula E, which was also co-founded by Agag.
Although he was replaced at the helm by current CEO Jamie Reigle in 2019, Agag stayed on as FE chairman until earlier this year.
Since its maiden 2014-15 season, FE has employed fanboost. Votes can be cast until 15 minutes before the race start, and then the five drivers with the most support can deploy a brief power boost to help overtake or defend position.
Two-time DTM champion and 2016 World Rallycross title winner Mattias Ekstrom, who will compete in XE for the Cupra manufacturer-supported Abt team, said: “I already love GridPlay.
“Unlike in World RX, where your starting position is decided by pure luck, in Extreme E the fans can make the decision.
“They can get more engaged with our sport and we as drivers have to make sure to get them on our side.
“This is one of many details that makes this series so different to anything we have seen so far.”
XE has already revealed its hyperdrive quirk, an additional boost that can be deployed at any time by the team that performs the longest jump over the first obstacle in each race.
Sara Price, who forms one-half of the mandated female-male XE driver line-up for Chip Ganassi Racing, added: “It will be such an innovative way for the fans to directly interact with the championship from anywhere in the world.
“I’ve never seen this done before in racing.
“It’s going to be a great way for the teams and drivers to connect with younger audiences.
“I think it will add a really fun and exciting dynamic to the sport and the future of motorsports.”