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Formula E accepts challenge to race fastest animal on planet after fans lay down gauntlet on social media

12 Dec 2018

Formula E driver Felipe Massa behind the wheel of a Gen2 racing car has gone up against a peregrine falcon in a straight fight in Saudi Arabia to outrun the fastest animal on the planet.

It’s not the first time the fully-electric Formula E car has been pitted against a member of the animal kingdom, with reigning champion Jean-Eric Vergne racing a cheetah on the Western Cape of South Africa last year.

Narrowly edging out the fastest land mammal in 2017, Formula E fans asked for a re-match – but this time together with more stern competition. Listening to the feedback of fans on social media, it was the turn of the peregrine falcon, capable of reaching speeds in excess of 350 km/h (217 mph) when diving through the skies above Saudi Arabia.

Massa was in the Kingdom ahead of the 2018 ‘Saudia’ Ad Diriyah E-Prix, which will see the racing legend line-up on the Formula E starting grid for the first time on December 15 at the stunning UNESCO World Heritage site on the outskirts of Riyadh. Tickets are on sale at http://fiaformulae.com/Ad-Diriyah.

For the battle or man and machine vs the natural world, the winged predator was trained to set its sights on a different kind of prey roaming through the desert – with a lure attached to the roll hoop of the advanced new-look Gen2 car.

Spreading his wings for the first time in Formula E machinery, 90-kilometres south-west of the Ad Diriyah, Massa’s mirrors loomed large with the claws of the peregrine falcon. But did he manage to shake off his opponent?
Felipe Massa, VENTURI Formula E Team driver, said: “It was an incredible experience for me to race against the fastest member of the animal kingdom – it’s not something I will forget in a hurry. I like the fact that this idea came from the fans, and Formula E listened and accepted the challenge.

“The footage from the drive is very special and it was a privilege to take part. I’m looking forward to returning to Ad Diriyah and to start racing. It’ll be my first race in Formula E and I’m eager to get behind the wheel again. I’ve missed racing and this series has shown to be one of the most competitive out there.”

Tickets are on sale at http://fiaformulae.com/Ad-Diriyah and are also available at Point of Sale units at Riyadh Park Mall, Oud Square and Doos Carting (only Grandstand tickets from Doos) and Seven Car Lounge.