Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour usher in a new era for McLaren Racing in Extreme E

McLaren Extreme Foust Gilmour
McLaren Racing
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In 2022, McLaren Racing expands their motorsports program into the Extreme E Series with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour pairing up against the competition.

McLaren’s foray into electric rally racing comes as Extreme E enters their second season. Beginning this weekend in Neom, Saudi Arabia, Foust and Gilmour will each run the full-five race season for the first time, giving them an opportunity to grow along with the innovative concept.

Gilmour raced in two of last year’s five rounds as the reserve driver for the Veloce Racing team during weekends when Jamie Chadwick had a conflict in the W Series. Foust has exactly one day in the car, which came in a test near McLaren’s headquarters in Woking, England.

MORE: McLaren Racing unveils 2022 cars

For both, a fresh start is part of the appeal of not only a new series, but an entirely new concept in racing. In Extreme E, the car and the concept share center stage with the driver.

“It’s not a series that’s gone and just electrified itself,” Gilmour told NBC Sports. “It’s a completely new form of motorsport with the male and female grid and going to remote parts of the planet that have never before seen motorsports or even live sports of any kind. So it’s just a really exciting sport in general to be a part of.”

Extreme E competes in two-driver teams with a switchover in the middle of the race.

Their mission is to create a competitive series while also ushering the racing world into the idea of a renewable fuel source. To further the impact, they schedule races in areas of the globe impacted most by climate change. And while this is important to anyone who wants to keep watching races well into the future, the bottom line is that the cars must put on a good show.

“The car is fast,” Foust said. “For such a big machine it is still some 550 horsepower, which in the electric version means about four and half seconds from 0 to 60.

Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour will be the pilots of McLaren’s first foray into the Extreme E Series. (McLaren Racing)

“(The car is) very capable; very tough. But also a lot of systems to learn, so you can adjust whether the power goes to the front or the rear axle based on a lot of things: On how much steering angle you have, how much load there is. There are a ton of things you can adjust with this because of the electric drive transmission. Because of that, I think will take more than one day to figure out.”

The Odyssey 21 electric SUVs used in the Extreme E Series put a lot of control into the driver’s hands.

Foust has been eyeing electric rally racing for some time. Last year, he raced the full Nitro Rallycross season in an effort to learn the tracks since that series plans to run electric cars, the FC1-X, in 2022. But when a chance arises to race for McLaren, however, a driver has to pounce on the opportunity.

The same was true for Gilmour, a veteran of rally racing with more than 20 years of experience. For her, the experience is even more personal. A native of New Zealand, she gets a chance to race for one of the most famous drivers ever exported from the island nation. Bruce McLaren won four Formula 1 times and had 27 podium finishes in a 101-race career.

Gilmour will also usher in a new era for McLaren as the first female driver for that organization.

“I always put a lot of pressure on myself,” Gilmour said. “I always want to do the best job possible, so I try not to focus too much on those added pressures that come along with being the first female driver for McLaren, but I can guarantee there will be some nerves come that first event.”


Racing Reinvented

Still in its infancy, electric vehicle (EV) racing has a lot of growth potential. Founded in 2014, the ABB Formula E series is becoming better established with each passing season and there have been rumors that NASCAR is also exploring the concept.

Foust believes EV racing is the key to keeping racing relevant. Not only relevant, but this is a chance to reinvent the sport as the automotive industry turns toward sustainable efforts. EV racing may even possibly be what keeps the sport alive.

“The motivation for getting involved in Extreme E is to get ahead of something that is inevitable, for any of us that race,” Foust said. “Especially for manufacturers.

“If we are going to keep motorsport alive, we have to make racing just as it was back in the turn of the century. We have to keep racing relevant for improving performance, reliability, safety, and all of the things that make motorsports what it is. We have to transition that to EV in order to continue on.”

At its core, racing is racing. Competition was a big factor in the improvement of cars when the internal combustion engine was first invented. The desired outcome for electric vehicles is the same – to transfer power from the engine to the wheels – but the mechanics are different, and racing has always been one of the best ways to stress-test and experiment on components.

“With electric, at any rpm down to zero, you have 100 percent of your torque available at any moment, so you get the power just as fast as you can push the pedal to the floor. Considering the truck is like a marshmallow with all of the suspension you have working, it makes the throttle the quickest part about it.”

Racing setups are typically done in garages or pits. That remains true for electric vehicles, but the handling for Extreme E’s SUVs can be adjusted on the fly. That is where Foust’s and Gilmour’s experience come into play.  Foust has been winning rally championships since the mid-2000s; Gilmour also has two decades of experience under her belt.

“You can send the power front or rear independently, and you can do that all the time,” Foust said. “You can have more power in to rear than the front so it drives like a rear-wheel car, or just the opposite. You can also assign that power front to rear with the amount of steering or the amount of lean angle.

“You have traction options, which are digital because it’s electric, which means it’s a super-precise traction control system, which can make it faster on certain surfaces.”

Last year the season opener was also held in Saudi Arabia, which was the first time these cars saw racing action. The desert proved to be a great proving ground and 2022 will be no different, but that is necessary to build a better racecar.

2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona: Schedule, TV info, start times, entry lists, notable drivers, more

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The new year brings the start of a new era for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, which will open the 2023 schedule with the 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

A new premier class for prototypes is the overriding story entering the 24-hour endurance race that unofficially kicks off the major-league racing season.

The new Le Mans Daytona hybrid (LMDh) cars of the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) top category will re-establish a bridge to the 24 Hours of Le Mans while bringing a new layer of engine electrification to IMSA.

With at least a few of the cars on the grid at Daytona also slated to race at Le Mans in June, it’s possible for the first time in decades (since the “Ford vs. Ferrari” battles) to have the same car win the overall title at Daytona and Le Mans.

The GTP category will feature four manufacturers, two of which are new to IMSA’s premier division. Porsche Motorsport (with Team Penske) and BMW (with Rahal Letterman Lanigan) will be fielding LMDh prototypes, joining (now-defunct) DPi category holdovers Acura (Meyer Shank Racing, Wayne Taylor Racing) and Cadillac (Chip Ganassi Racing, Action Express Racing).

Here’s what else you need to know ahead of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener Jan. 29-30 at Daytona International Speedway:


NOTABLE DRIVER ADDITIONS 

The Rolex 24 will feature 10 active drivers from the NTT IndyCar Series, including the IMSA debuts of Team Penske drivers Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin, who will be teamed in an LMP2 entry (teammate Will Power unfortunately had to withdraw from this debut).

Colton Herta will move into the GTP category with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud return with Meyer Shank Racing to defend their overall 2022 Rolex 24 victory. Scott Dixon also returns in the premier category with Chip Ganassi Racing for his 20th Rolex 24 start and third consecutive in the No. 01 Cadillac.

Other IndyCar drivers in the field: Romain Grosjean will make his debut in GTD Pro with Iron Lynx Racing (as a precursor to driving a GTP Lamborghini next year); Devlin DeFrancesco (Rick Ware Racing) and Rinus VeeKay (TDS Racing) are in LMP2; and Kyle Kirkwood will return in GTD with Vasser Sullivan.

Daytona 500 winner Austin Cindric also will return, teaming with DeFrancesco in an LMP2 entry for Rick Ware Racing.


CAR COUNT

The Rolex 24 field was capped at 61 cars, matching last year’s field (which was the largest since 2014). The field was capped because of the space limitations for the LMDh cars of GTP in the pits and garages.

Click here for the official 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona entry list.


STARTING LINEUP

Tom Blomqvist captured the first pole position of the GTP era, qualifying defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing in first with the No. 60 ARX-06 Acura that he shares with Colin Braun, Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud.

The No. 7 Porsche 963 of Porsche Penske Motorsports will start second.

Click here for the 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona starting lineup


RACE BROADCAST

The 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona will be streamed across the NBC Sports AppNBCSports.com and Peacock, which will have coverage of the event from flag to flag.

Broadcast coverage of the race coverage will begin Saturday, Jan. 28 at 1:30 p.m. ET on NBC and move to USA Network from 2:30-8 p.m. and then will be exclusively on Peacock and IMSA.TV from 8-10 p.m. Coverage will return to USA Network from 10 p.m. to midnight and then move to Peacock/IMSA.TV until 6 a.m.

From 6 a.m. until noon on Sunday, Jan. 29, Rolex 24 coverage will be available on USA Network. The conclusion of the Rolex 24 will run from noon through 2 p.m. on NBC.

HOW TO WATCH IMSA ON NBC SPORTS: Broadcast schedule for 2023

Other events that will be streamed on Peacock from Daytona during January (all times ET):

Jan. 21: IMSA VP Racing Sports Car Challenge, 2:05 p.m.

Jan. 22: IMSA VP Racing Sports Car Challenge, 12:20 p.m.

Jan. 22: IMSA Rolex 24 qualifying, 1:25 p.m.

Jan. 27: BMW Endurance Michelin Pilot Challenge, 1:45 p.m.


ROLEX 24 COVERAGE FROM NBC SPORTS

Roger Penske, Chip Ganassi take their storied rivalry to a new level at Daytona

Pfaff Motorsports returns to Rolex 24 in premier parking spot punching above its weight

Cadillac, Acura battle for top of the speed charts

Herta, Rahal team up with BMW in pursuit of overall win at Rolex 24

Wayne Taylor Racing takes a step up to the next level with Andretti Autosport

Austin Cindric seeks to join legendary club of Rolex 24-Daytona 500 winners

Helio Castroneves recalls “Days of Thunder” moment in 2022 Rolex 24 victory

The “Bus Bros” tackle the “Bus Stop” for Rolex 24 at Daytona debuts

Romain Grosjean adds Rolex 24 at Daytona to his crown jewel career

Tom Blomqvist beats the clock to win Rolex 24 at Daytona pole position

GTP cars make debut in “Gymkhana”-level traffic

Five things to watch in the new GTP class as a golden era of sports cars returns

Cadillac unveils paint schemes for LMDh cars

Austin Cindric, Devlin DeFrancesco, Pietro Fittipaldi teaming up in LMP2

IndyCar drivers in the 61st Rolex 24


ROLEX 24 DAILY SCHEDULE, START TIMES

Here’s a rundown of everything happening at Daytona International Speedway over the last two weeks in January, starting with the Roar test session. Rolex 24 start times and full schedule:

Wednesday, Jan. 18

7 a.m.: GTP garages open

4 p.m.: Non-GTP garages open

4 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship haulers load-in (park only)

6:30 p.m.: Non-GTP garages close

9:30 p.m.: GTP garages close

Thursday, Jan. 19

7 a.m.: Garages, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship haulers open

8:30 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship safety inspection

10 a.m.: Rolex 24 Media Day

2 p.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge driver and team manager briefing

3 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship driver and team manager briefing

5:15 p.m.: Track walk

7:30 p.m.: Non-GTP garages close

9:30 p.m.: GTP garages close

Friday, Jan. 20

7 a.m.: Garages open

8:45-9:15 a.m.: VP Racing SportsCar Challenge practice

9:30-10:45 a.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

1:45-2:15 p.m.: VP Racing SportsCar Challenge practice

2:30-4 p.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

4:15-6 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice (GTD/LMP3/LMP2 4:15-5:45; 4:30-6: GTD Pro, GTP)

8 p.m.: Non-GTP garages close

9:30 p.m.: GTP garages close

Saturday, Jan. 21

7 a.m.: Garages open

8:40-9:15 a.m.: VP Racing SportsCar Challenge qualifying

9:30-11 a.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

11:15 a.m.-12:45 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

2:05-2:50 p.m.: VP Racing SportsCar Challenge, Race 1 (streaming on Peacock)

3:10 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

4:30-5:30 p.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

6:30-8:30 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

10 p.m.: Garages close

Sunday, Jan. 22

7 a.m.: Garages open

10:15-11:15 a.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

12:20-1:05 p.m.: VP Racing SportsCar Challenge, Race 2 (streaming on Peacock)

1:25-3 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Rolex 24 qualifying (streaming on Peacock)

8:30 p.m.: Garages close

Wednesday, Jan. 25

6 a.m.: Garages open

7:30-10 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship safety inspection, non-GTP

8 a.m.: Mazda MX-5 load-in

10-11:30 a.m.: Track walk

10 a.m.-noon: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship car photos

11:30 a.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge team manager briefing

Noon: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship team manager briefing

12:30 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship new driver briefing

Noon-2 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship safety and technical inspection, non-GTP

1:45-2:30 p.m.: Mazda MX-5 practice

2:45-3:45 p.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

2:30-7:30 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship safety inspection, GTP only

4-5:30 p.m.: Track walk

6:45 p.m.: Garages close

Thursday, Jan. 26

7 a.m.: Garages open

9-9:30 a.m.: Mazda MX-5 practice

9:45-10:45 a.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

11:05 a.m.-12:35 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

12:55-1:10 p.m.: Mazda MX-5 qualifying

2:25-3 p.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge qualifying

3:20-5:05 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice (3:20-5:05: GTD, LMP3, LMP2; 3:35-5:05: GTD Pro, GTP)

5:30-6:15 p.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 1

7:15-9 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

10:15 p.m.: Garages close

Friday, Jan. 27

7 a.m.: Garages open

9:25-9:55 a.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

10:15-11 a.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 2

10:30 a.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge driver and team manager briefing

11:20 a.m.-12:20 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

1:45-5:45 p.m.: BMW M Endurance Challenge at Daytona (Michelin Pilot Challenge; streaming on Peacock)

8:45 p.m.: Garages close

Saturday, Jan. 28

6:30 a.m.: Garages open

9:45 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship driver and team manager briefing

12:30-12:40 p.m.: Rolex 24 engine warmup

1:30-1:40 p.m.: Rolex 24 formation laps

1:40 p.m.: The 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona (starting on NBC; streaming flag to flag on Peacock)

Sunday, Jan. 29

1:40 p.m.: Finish of the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona

7:30 p.m.: Garages close