Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan, is set to become one of the 8 Host Cities in 80 Day Race. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed during the Expo 2017 in Astana on Wednesday.

Frank Manders, General Director and co-founder of 80 Day Race, came to an agreement with Asset Issekeshev, the Mayor of Astana, when the city’s involvement in the event was discussed during the previous day. Following a press conference at the Dutch Pavilion, the MoU was signed by Manders and Saniyar Aitekenov, Director of Astana Convention Bureau.

Manders said: “Astana is the personification of the development of Kazakhstan, open to renewal and a willingness to invest in future technologies and development. As the proud host of Expo 2017 Astana has shown its global vision and ambition towards a sustainable future. We are honoured that Mayor Asset Issekeshev recognises that the vision, plans and message of 80 Day Race are a continuation of the Expo theme, “Future Energy”. We are looking forward to working together in organising a memorable event. “

Aitekenov said: “It’s truly honourable for Astana to be a part of 80 Day Race. Having an opportunity to host this kind of event is a milestone in the given direction to developing future energy in our city.  On behalf of Astana Convention Bureau, we are thrilled to start preparing Astana for the race.”

During the media event, moderated by Dirk Jan Kop, Ambassador of the Netherlands in Kazakhstan, Manders talked about the upcoming edition of 80 Day Race. The event will start under the Eiffel Tower in Paris in 2019 and takes teams racing around the world in 80 days with land-based vehicles that run on renewable resources and no combustion engine. Participants are free to choose their own routes and race over 40,000 km, visiting 8 major cities in which events take place. National Geographic will follow the preparation of the teams and broadcast a documentary about the race.

Manders’ time on stage was shared with Bertrand Piccard. The initiator, chairman and pilot of Solar Impulse successfully completed the first round-the-world trip in a solar airplane. Because of a shared vision on sustainability and the passion for adventure, Piccard expressed his support to 80 Day Race in February this year and became an ambassador.

Piccard said: “Frank Manders is a pioneer by launching a zero-emission car race around the world. The 80 Day Race will drive not only research but also behaviour towards mobility. 80 Day Race is a member of our World Alliance for Efficient Solutions and I fully support them to promote electric mobility.”

Chris Ramsey was also invited to speak during the press conference. The founder of Plug In Adventures and candidate participant of 80 Day Race, is the first person to tackle the 10,000-mile Mongol Rally, driving from London to Siberia in an electric car. He recently arrived in Astana in a Nissan Leaf.

Ramsey said: “Having just crossed Kazakhstan in an electrical vehicle, I was amazed to see what the country has to offer. Wide landscapes, beautiful scenery, some of the most exciting roads, and above all extremely nice people. Combine this with the ambition and grandeur of Astana, and it is a truly magical place. I hope I can relive and enhance on these experiences, when we will be back, competing in 80 Day Race.”

Aidar Marat, the Kazakh representative of 80 Day Race, played a key role in facilitating the process that led to the signing of the MoU. He said: “80 Day Race is a renaissance of the Silk Road – Green Bridge that connect cultures and raise awareness of sustainable development and mobility. To be involved in bringing a project like 80 Day Race to Kazakhstan is exciting. It shows that the Kazakh people are hospitable, welcoming and open. In my role, I connect the Astana municipality, businesses and other organisations to a global project, that will give Kazakhstan a platform to show the world how amazing this country is.”

The Dutch ambassador in Kazakhstan, Dirk Jan Kop, said: “Kazakhstan and The Netherlands have a long and strong relationship. Therefore, it is great to see that an innovative Dutch initiative is welcomed so warmly in Kazakhstan. It will strengthen the relationship between the countries and I’m glad this project from The Netherlands can contribute to the continuation of the Expo 2017 theme “Future Energy”.”

Invited by the United Nations

As one of the 50 selected influencers, Manders attended the interactive High-Level Dialogue: “Options and solutions for a clean energy future” on Thursday. The event, which was a result of a joined effort by UN Environment, the Government of Switzerland and Solar Impulse, had the aim to promote a cleaner energy future. Panel members included several CEO’s and dignitaries.

Frank Manders (left) meeting Mayor Asset Issekeshev and is in company with Aidar Marat, the Kazakh representative of 80 Day Race (right).

Photo on top: Frank Manders (left) signing the Memorandum of Understanding along with Saniyar Aitekenov, Director of Astana Convention Bureau.