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Kicking off 2021 with a Saudi Arabian adventure

We’re just over a month into 2021, but already it’s been a whirlwind start to the year at ROOTS.! No sooner had our Christmas dinners settled in our stomachs than we were heading off to Saudi Arabia, ready to take on the challenge of planning, capturing and communicating a hugely exciting project we’ve been working on over the past 12 months.

We have worked on activating GCK since its formation back in 2017, with much of the focus in the past years on its FIA World Rallycross Championship attack. In November 2020, the team underwent a shift in identity and strategy: GC Kompetition became GCK Motorsport (find out more here), and with it came a commitment to sustainable motorsport – initially concentrating on cross-country rallying.

At the same time, GCK Energy (which powered the GCK paddock at World RX events with 100% sustainable energy) was intrinsically involved in these plans to help GCK Motorsport, as well as other teams and championships, power their operations using renewable, green energy.

This brings us to Saudi Arabia. If you want to test a new cross-country vehicle, there’s nowhere better than the infamous Dakar Rally – widely recognised as one of the toughest, harshest motorsport challenges in the world. Always pushing for the best and living up to their motto, #ChangingTheRules, we joined GCK Motorsport as they put the new fully-electric GCK e-Blast 1 through its paces in the dunes, rocks and desert around the 2021 Dakar Rally’s NEOM stage.

The Dakar Rally also provided a perfect platform for GCK Energy to showcase what it can do. As well as powering the e-Blast 1 and the team’s own paddock area, it led an innovative approach in powering part of the Dakar Rally’s bivouac when it came into NEOM, illustrating the potential for renewable, green solutions to power every part of a motorsport championship.

During the initial days of setup and testing we were capturing content almost 24/7, filling up hard drives left, right and centre. The main challenge? Dust… and lots of it! We communicated actively through the media – social, online and offline – building up towards the arrival of the Dakar Rally on the 11th January. Alongside operational challenges to overcome, we also worked for and with the team’s partners.

Our main focus from a PR perspective led up to 12th January – the #FutureDakar Press Conference. As part of the Dakar Rally’s plans for a greener future, GCK Motorsport and GCK Energy announced more about their role in developing pioneering technology to drive the future of mobility and green energy. As well as revealing plans for the GCK e-Blast H2, a hybrid evolution powered by both battery and hydrogen, to be race-ready in 2023-2024, it was also an opportunity to show how GCK Energy’s mobile energy solution can power the Dakar's vision of a ‘green bivouac’. This year, the example was set by powering the media centre and TV wall in the NEOM bivouac for the duration of the rally's stay.

The response to these announcements was overwhelming, and it was an honour to be able to give some very special guests, including Jutta Kleinschmidt (FIA President Cross Country Commission), Yann Le Moenner (CEO of the ASO), Their Royal Highnesses Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Abdullah Al Faisal and Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki Al Faisal, as well as a whole host of invited media and journalists, a first-hand experience of the future of mobility with passenger rides in the GCK e-Blast 1.

It was great to see the 'buzz' on the ground in Saudi Arabia as GCK showcased both their current and future projects, and exciting to see the news picked up by media across the globe with over 90 articles/features across 35 countries read by an estimated 1.8 million people by now, including articles in Autosport, Autohebdo, L'Équipe, Autocar and many more.

Through our social media work in Saudi Arabia, ¾ million people were reached with 100,000 video views on GCK Motorsport’s social media channels alone – no mean feat, especially considering the pre-existing audience were mainly petrolheads and RX fans who were new to the sustainable cross-country elements we brought to them.

After almost 3 weeks in Saudi Arabia, we came home covered in dust, exhilarated and in need of sleep, and inspired by the challenge of our Dakar Rally experience. Now all that’s left is to go through those hundreds of gigabytes of footage…!

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