Loïc Duval is a world-class name in motorsport, with a highly-successful career spanning a number of disciplines at the highest level.
He has sealed victory at the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans, on the way to the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship title, while he has also taken top honours in sportscars with Japanese Super GT series laurels and in single seaters in Formula Nippon. The 37-year old has also completed campaigns in IMSA, DTM and Formula E.
All that said, significant off-road experience has so far eluded the experienced 37-year-old, though he has had a taste, via ice racing in the Trophee Andros. He is sure, however, that his top-tier nous would serve him well and give him an edge should he take up a race seat in Extreme E.
“The ability to drive across different surfaces is the biggest thing for me – that’s something I haven’t yet experienced,” said Duval. “I’m really looking forward to seeing first-hand just how capable the Extreme E E-SUV is across all terrains.
“The experience that I have in motorsport in general is pretty high level, from single seater championships to the World Endurance Championship – at the top level and with top teams and manufacturers.
“Extreme E will be a learning curve, for sure – all that said. There are a lot of new surfaces but I have raced a little bit on sand and ice. I start from a good base, I think – we all do as racing drivers.”
Extreme E unveiled the Nepalese Himalayas as the fourth of its five locations last month, and is set to break the mould in motorsport and entertainment with its E-SUVs racing across five of the world’s most remote and formidable environments that have already been affected by climate change or human interference. The goal: raising awareness, driving sustainability and inspiring action.
Duval has demonstrated his commitment to sustainable motorsport entertainment with two stints in Formula E, however he feels a personal accountability as global citizen, and as a racing driver, to be more environmentally proactive – with Extreme E providing the ideal platform for driving change.
“I’m not 100 percent perfect, and I don’t think anybody is. However, all of us can do more and play a part in improving the situation and our climate. We are collectively able to make a positive change, but I think we all have to work on this as individuals and improve.
“For us as racing drivers, people with a public profile, it makes a lot of sense to work on this. Full electric is definitely the way to go as the market has shown. Being green and efficient for the benefit of the planet is the main factor for me. We can show this with Extreme E and use the championship and the sport as a means to speak about enacting change.”
As a youngster, the Paris-Dakar Rally always caught Duval’s eye, and competing in this branch of motorsport has long been a goal.
“I’m really looking forward to having the opportunity to race in Extreme E because as a racing driver and a passionate proponent of motorsport, I have always been a big fan of events like the Paris-Dakar Rally – especially as a Frenchman. In the current landscape, and with the advancement of motorsport, being able to mix the off-road racing with a full-electric series is something that is super interesting.
“The Desert is where I look forward to racing most. As a French kid, during the winter the Paris-Dakar was huge for us back in the day. The stages were really impressive and it’s something I always wanted to do in my career. I’m looking forward to all the environments, though. They are all incredible.”
The second group of inductees into the programme includes; the first British competitor to win the Dakar Rally, Sam Sunderland; former Formula E and Formula 1 driver Karun Chandhok; young British single-seater racer Billy Monger; ABB FIA Formula E racers Jérôme d’Ambrosio, Daniel Abt, Antonio Felix Da Costa and Oliver Turvey; Japanese superbiker Takuma Aoki, European Rally Champion Chris Ingram, GT driver James Rossiter and Hungarian rallycross and rallying heroes Krisztián Szabó and Zoltán Bessenyey.
The group joins earlier inductees into the Drivers’ Programme which already includes; multiple FIA World Rally Championship title-winner Sebastian Ogier; FIA World Rallycross frontrunners Andreas Bakkerud and Kevin and Timmy Hansen; double DTM champion and FIA World Rallycross driver Timo Scheider; W Series winner Jamie Chadwick and female racers Katherine Legge and Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky; 2016 ABB FIA Formula E champion Lucas di Grassi; 2014 Formula E champion Nelson Piquet Jr., fellow Formula E racer and Le Mans winner Andre Lotterer; and Former F1 and Formula E racer Bruno Senna and Sacha Prost – ice racer and the youngest son of Formula 1 legend Alain Prost.