Andretti United scored their first Extreme E win in the Arctic XPrix ahead of JBXE and Sainz XE Team in a thrilling finale in Greenland.
Following two nail-biting opening races in AlUla, Saudi Arabia and Dakar, Senegal, the Extreme E paddock arrived in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland for this weekend’s historic Arctic X Prix (28/29 August). As has been the case in each of this season’s X Prix events, Lewis Hamilton’s X44 team hold the Top Qualifier spot overnight, laying down a marker for the chasing pack.
The pioneering electric off-road racing series’ third event sees the 18 world-class drivers in unfamiliar territory, with a dramatic drop in temperature and vastly different terrain to those seen earlier in the year. The 8.1-kilometre Arctic X Prix course features the other-worldly backdrop of the Russell Glacier as Extreme E’s unprecedented calendar locations continue to ‘wow’ drivers, teams and fans alike.
With terrain changes, sand and water hazards, ridge drops and the now-notorious ‘Rock Garden’ at the end of the lap to negotiate, this course poses one of the biggest challenges yet for the nine teams. The ‘Super Sector’ also returns in Greenland with five points being awarded to the driver with the fastest time over the weekend. A revised racing format means classification points are now allocated to teams across the two qualifying runs instead of the combined session time deciding the result as in the first two rounds.
The total of those points provides the intermediate standings and decides the order for the Semi-Finals. It was the X44 squad that streaked ahead of the chasing pack in the qualifying points classification, as the only driver pairing to enjoy uninterrupted runs in both sessions. The potent combination of Sébastien Loeb and Cristina Gutiérrez stormed to victory in Qualifying 1 and followed it up with another quietly consistent performance to go P2 in Qualifying 2. Overall, the #44 car accrued 17 points – six more than their nearest competitor to mark their third top qualifier spot from three events.
Tied on 11 points with ABT CUPRA XE was Rosberg X Racing, the championship leaders looked on the pace from the outset but Johan Kristoffersson encountered technical gremlins on track during his first Qualifying run, stopping multiple times in the process. The three-time FIA World Rallycross champion handed over to Molly Taylor who brilliantly recovered from a spectacular barrel roll but left the pair way down the order. A spirited comeback drive from the duo in the second session catapulted them up to third in the overall qualifying standings.
Fourth and fifth in the classification were also tied on points, continuing to highlight the competitive and unpredictable nature of the championship. Andretti United Extreme E recovered well from a hampered-run in Qualifying 1 to go third in the second session earning themselves 10 points and fourth place overall.
Veloce Racing secured another consistent qualifying result with fifth in the points classification. Despite Emma Gilmour – stand-in for Jamie Chadwick – earning herself a 10-second penalty with a costly course marker and both Gilmour and Stéphane Sarrazin completing their run without power steering in Qualfiying 2, the pairing managed to avoid any major incidents to occupy the middle of the table.
The ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team duo of Carlos Sainz Snr. and Laia Sanz resumed their ongoing struggles with the Switch Zone in Qualifying 1 as Sainz pulled into the wrong slot, followed up by a slow driver switch ensuring their time was only good enough for sixth in the session. A cautious run over the ‘Rock Garden’ in Qualifying 2 for Sanz meant fifth place confirming sixth in the points classification.
The luckless SEGI TV Chip Ganassi Racing car continued its season-long trend of setting eye-catching lap times to no avail in today’s qualifying. An ultra-competitive Qualifying 1 time was dealt a serious blow thanks to a track marker infringement but Kyle LeDuc and Sara Price still managed to go third fastest. There was worse to come though, as a complete rear suspension collapse early in their Qualifying 2 run brought out the red flag, relegating them to last in the session and seventh in the overnight standings.
A team that endured similar misfortune was the JBXE squad. Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky ran into trouble early in her Qualifying 1 run with the car stopping for nearly two minutes, once she was up and running again the Swede hit a boulder in the ‘Rock Garden’ causing the steering arm to shatter, leaving team-mate Kevin Hansen on the side-lines. Hansen then encountered troubles of his own when the #22 ODYSSEY 21 cut out while braking for the switch zone in Qualifying 2. The disastrous day for the pairing meant eighth was the final result.
Last up in the standings was XITE ENERGY RACING powered by myenergi. A competitive run in the first qualifying session for Oliver Bennett and Christine GZ rewarded the duo with fifth place, but technical problems for Bennett in Qualifying 2 relegated the squad to ninth in the points classification.
Qualifying points classification
- X44 (Sébastien Loeb / Cristina Gutiérrez) 17 points
- ABT CUPRA XE (Mattias Ekström / Jutta Kleinschmidt) 11 points
- Rosberg X Racing (Johan Kristoffersson / Molly Taylor) 11 points
- Andretti United Extreme E(Timmy Hansen / Catie Munnings) 10 points
- Veloce Racing (Stéphane Sarrazin / Emma Gilmour) 10 points
- ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team (Carlos Sainz / Laia Sanz) 9 points
- SEGI TV Chip Ganassi Racing (Kyle LeDuc / Sara Price) 8 points
- JBXE (Kevin Hansen / Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky) 7 points
- XITE ENERGY RACING powered by myenergi (Oliver Bennett / Christine Giampaoli Zonca) 7 points
The first of Saturday’s wheel-to-wheel contests – hailed by Extreme E commentator Andrew Coley as the ‘best race of the season’ – was packed to the rafters with thrilling action right from the off. Before the start lights had even gone green the heavens opened, giving the series its first-ever wet race. Extreme E newcomer Emma Gilmour seized the early advantage down to the first corner with an audacious move around the outside of Gutiérrez.
After dispensing with the X44 car, Sainz Snr. was hot on the Kiwi’s heels and tactfully utilised his HyperDrive to snatch the lead as the trio headed into the single file section of the course. The Veloce Racing car would hold off the advances of Gutiérrez for the remainder of the lap as Sainz Snr. streaked into a seemingly unassailable lead. As the ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team car headed for the driver Switch zone, the gap to Veloce Racing was over 12 seconds and a further five back to X44.
The trio left the pits with Laia Sanz leading the way followed by Stéphane Sarrazin and Sébastien Loeb respectively. The duelling Frenchmen battled it out in the opening stages of the lap before Loeb made an inspired overtake, diving through on the inside of what was previously known as the ‘single file’ lake section. The nine-time World Rally Champion then began carving seconds out of Sanz’s lead. As the pack arrived at the back end of the course, Loeb expertly used his HyperDrive to make his way into the lead.
The drama wasn’t over yet, however, as Sarrazin closed in on the leading pair and opted for an alternate line through the treacherous Rock Garden, catapulting the Veloce Racing car from third to first with an excellent undercut. Unfortunately, the elation was short-lived, as the #5 car slowed with a broken steering arm, handing the two Final-qualifying spots back to X44 and ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team respectively.
Following on from a thrilling first race of the day, Semi-Final 2 backed it up with yet more wheel-to-wheel action. A flat-out run to turn one saw Kristoffersson lead the pack through the uphill section followed by Hansen and ABT CUPRA XE’s Jutta Kleinschmidt. Hansen began to apply pressure to the Rosberg X Racing car as they approached the lake, he was rewarded for his efforts with an uncharacteristic mistake from Kristoffersson who hit a track marker earning himself a 10-second penalty.
The Andretti United Extreme E driver wanted to get the job done on course, however and went side-by-side through the Super Sector to take the lead and duly used his HyperDrive to open up a gap. By the time the duo had reached the Rock Garden, Kristoffersson had closed up the gap once more. Never to be outwitted, the Rosberg X Racing driver pulled a surprise outbreaking manoeuvre to lead heading into the Switch Zone.
As the pack left the pits, it became apparent that all was not well with the ABT CUPRA XE car. A broken driveshaft meant Mattias Ekström was unable to make any significant progress on his lap. With no pressure from behind, Taylor and Munnings picked up from where Kristoffersson and Hansen left off as the pair locked horns on the far side of the course. A wide line for the Australian heading on to the back straight left the door open for Munnings to nip past and seal the victory from Taylor and Ekström.
The Crazy Race
The aptly named Crazy Race saw drama before the drivers had even reached the grid with the JBXE squad receiving a 30-second penalty due to excess tyre use that would be taken during the driver switch. With that in mind, Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky was on a mission and took control of the race from the outset with SEGI TV Chip Ganassi Racing’s Sara Price and XITE ENERGY RACING powered by myenergi’s Christine GZ not far behind.
Following a sensational move from Christine GZ to move her up into second position, Price set about regaining the place. In doing so, the American suffered from a loss of steering after landing too harshly from one of the course’s steep jumps and ended her day on the sidelines. As the remaining duo headed for the Switch Zone, Åhlin-Kottulinsky had built a small buffer to GZ. Bennett took over and was swiftly back out on track while Kevin Hansen waited for the 30-seconds to tick away.
Once released, Hansen was on the prowl. Clipping a track marker in the process of reducing a 22-second deficit down to under 10 seconds. Before the World Rallycross Winner could reach him, Bennett had slowed to a stop, having hit the front of his car while landing from a jump. That enabled Hansen to bring home the victory and book the last slot in the grand Final.
Andretti United Extreme E came out on top after a titanic battle with championship leaders Rosberg X Racing during Extreme E’s first-ever five-car Final. The Arctic X Prix in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, provided non-stop action from Shakedown on Friday all the way through to the dying moments of the all-important Final. After a thrilling opening round in AlUla, Saudi Arabia, and then an epic battle on the beach in Lac Rose, Dakar, Senegal, the pioneering racing series had a lot to live up to when it arrived in Greenland for the country’s first-ever motorsport event, and it certainly delivered the goods.
It was the ever-popular Andretti United Extreme E pairing of Timmy Hansen and Catie Munnings which claimed a sensational victory over event-long adversaries Johan Kristoffersson and Molly Taylor who fell at the final hurdle, blowing the championship wide open in the process. The unforgiving Arctic X Prix course, combined with the series’ revised sporting format produced some of the most exciting racing yet with the 18 world-class drivers battling not only themselves, but the conditions and various track hazards en route to the finish line.
Adding an extra element of excitement to proceedings was the returning Super Sector, with the fastest driver over the course of the weekend earning themselves five extra points for the team. This weekend, it was eventual joint-winner Timmy Hansen who would also post the fastest time. Extreme E’s first-ever five-car final was a mouth-watering prospect and the all-or-nothing showdown didn’t disappoint. A great start for Molly Taylor and Sébastien Loeb looked to set up the much-anticipated Rosberg X Racing vs X44 contest that fans had been waiting for. Catie Munnings had other ideas as the Brit used her Hyperdrive to snatch the lead. As she reached the first turn, the trio was three abreast with JBXE’s Kevin Hansen and ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team’s Carlos Sainz Snr. in hot pursuit.
Loeb seized the advantage as the pack raced through the single-file section of the course and past the lake. Munnings attempted to replicate her sensational move on Taylor from earlier in the day, as the pair were side by side through the Super Sector but the Australian would hang on to second as the field held station – albeit in tight formation – into the Switch Zone. Disaster struck for the luckless X44 squad in the pits, discovering a puncture meaning the right rear wheel needed to be replaced. Loeb leapt into action along with his mechanic to get the job done but it would see the squad’s hard-earned 19-second advantage diminish to nothing.
Timmy Hansen in the Andretti United Extreme E machine emerged from the Switch Zone in the lead, closely followed by Johan Kristoffersson and Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky, leaving Laia Sanz and Cristina Gutiérrez to go wheel-to-wheel for the final two positions. Kristoffersson immediately began applying pressure to his fellow World Rallycross Champion and by the time the pair had reached the far corner, it was time for the Rosberg X Racing car to make its move.
The 32-year-old went for the wide line into the turn while Hansen defended, inevitably providing him with better exit speed and enabling him to draw alongside his rival. The duo remained doorhandle-to-doorhandle as they executed several of the course’s larger jumps in similarly exuberant fashion. The Andretti United Extreme E car would come away from the encounter unscathed, the same could not be said for Rosberg X Racing’s ODYSSEY 21 however, as Kristoffersson ground to a halt having landed too aggressively in his attempt to snatch the lead.
A calm and collected Hansen crossed the line first giving Andretti United Extreme E their first win in the series and putting an end to Rosberg X Racing’s dominant Final form in 2021. Åhlin-Kottulinsky kept Hansen honest to claim the runner-up spot, finishing just four seconds behind while Sanz and Sainz Snr. completed the podium with a brilliant comeback drive.
- Andretti United Extreme E (Timmy Hansen / Catie Munnings) 2 laps
- JBXE(Kevin Hansen / Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky) +4.159s
- ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team (Carlos Sainz Snr. / Laia Sanz) +22.866s
- X44(Sébastien Loeb / Cristina Gutiérrez) +27.914s
- Rosberg X Racing(Johan Kristoffersson / Molly Taylor) +1:01.005s
Here’s the videos from Extreme E:
Here’s how Ocean XPrix in Extreme E panned out
[Note: The above is per the press release from Extreme E]