Loeb to drive for Hamilton's Extreme E team


FILE PHOTO: Driver Sebastien Loeb of France attends a news conference to present the 2019 Dakar Rally, which will be held from January 6 to 17, on a giant loop rally-route entirely in Peru, in Paris, France, November 27, 2018. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

LONDON (Reuters) - Nine-times rally world champion Sebastien Loeb will race in the new Extreme E off-road electric series next year for a team owned by seven-times Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton.

The two are the most successful drivers of all time in their respective series.

Frenchman Loeb, 46, will be partnered by 29-year-old Spanish racer Cristina Gutierrez, a four-times finisher in the Dakar Rally.

Every team in the series, which aims to raise awareness about climate change by racing in some of the world's most remote and harsh environments, must have a male and a female driver.

"They are both incredible drivers and I’m looking forward to seeing what they’re going to do out there at each race," said Hamilton in an X44 team statement.

"Cristina is an upcoming talent with a great future ahead of her, and Sébastien is a driver I have admired for so many years so I’m so proud and excited to have them on board."

Both drivers have tested the Odyssey 21 car on off-road stages.

Loeb will not be the only world rally champion in the field, with Spain's double champion and triple Dakar winner Carlos Sainz driving for his own team.

Hamilton's former Mercedes team mate and 2016 F1 world champion Nico Rosberg also has a team in the series run by Formula E founder Alejandro Agag.

"Joining team X44 is an opportunity for me to continue to do what I love, which is race, and I’m looking forward to competing in an electric vehicle," Loeb said.

The first race is scheduled for the Saudi Arabian desert in March.

Other rounds will be in Senegal, Greenland, the Brazilian rain forest and Argentine glaciers of Tierra del Fuego.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond)

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