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Emma Gilmour to be McLaren’s first ever female driver in Extreme E entry

As McLaren enters the world of Extreme E in 2022, the British outfit has announced Emma Gilmour as their first ever female driver and Leena Gade as the team's race engineer for their upcoming electric venture.

Ahead of McLaren's Extreme E entry, the team has announced Emma Gilmour as the first female racer to drive for the emblematic British outfit. Gilmour, who had her first taste of electric off-road racing in the past Island X-Prix two weeks ago replacing Jamie Chadwick in the Veloce car, will now have a full-time seat in the series. 

She will team up with Tanner Foust, who was announced as McLaren's first Extreme E driver in August. The British marque will debut in the fully-electric series next season, following the steps of illustrated motorsports names such as Nico Rosberg, Jenson Button, Michael Andretti and Lewis Hamilton, whose teams are already competing in the ongoing inaugural season. 

The team also unveiled their launch livery, encompassing the famous orange used by the McLaren brand currently in Formula 1 and in IndyCar. 

Zak Brown, CEO of McLaren, said: "We’re proud to join His Royal Highness to announce Emma Gilmour as the first-ever female driver for McLaren Racing. Emma completes our exciting and competitive driver line-up alongside Tanner Foust for our first season of Extreme E. She’s a race winner and has proven herself this year in Extreme E alongside a vast background in competitive off-roading in multiple racing series across the globe. It’s fitting that our first female driver originates from New Zealand where our founder Bruce McLaren was from.

“Being able to announce Emma and reveal our launch livery with His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales during COP26, given his track record in sustainability and promotion of STEM education and engineering, resonates with McLaren Racing’s commitment to sustainability, diversity and gender equality which are deeply-rooted in the team’s ethos. Seeing the support from the entire McLaren family in signing up for one or more of the Count Us In pledges highlights the dedication of our fans, partners and team members to help avert the impacts of climate change. We’re looking forward to competing in Extreme E’s second season to continue to educate ourselves on this journey of discovery and use our voice to shine a light on key issues impacting the world.”

Gilmour hails from New Zealand, the same country as McLaren founder Bruce McLaren, with the newly-announced McLaren driver describing it as a "special opportunity". She said: “I’m incredibly honoured to be McLaren Racing’s first female driver. Growing up in New Zealand, Bruce McLaren and McLaren Racing are seen as the pinnacles of motorsport. To be competing in Extreme E next year with McLaren is a special opportunity. The series is a fantastic platform that represents equality and addresses the key issues affecting our planet and society. I’m looking to draw on my previous experience in Extreme E alongside all my skills across rally, rallycross and cross-country rallying, that make me well-suited to the sport, to make a positive impact and inspire the next generation of female drivers and engineers. I can’t wait to get started with the team.”

Along with Gilmour's arrival to the team, comes Leena Gade. Gade is a renowned engineer who rose to fame in the early 2010s as part of the victorious Audi team in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, will join McLaren as their Extreme E race engineer, while she has also worked in IndyCar, IMSA and with the FIA.

Image courtesy Extreme E

Andrea Perilli

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