Rosberg X Racing team took a crucial third Extreme E win in Island X Prix in a attrition final race where title contenders X44 had an unfortunate retirement.
Following three action-packed races in Saudi Arabia, Senegal and Greenland, the Extreme E paddock arrived in Sardinia for the Enel X Island X Prix all set to tackle a course widely expected to be the most technically challenging of the season so far.
The unique course, located at the Capo Teulada military training area, inland from the coastal town of Porto Pino on Sardinia’s southwest coast, has provided a new challenge for the 18-world class drivers, with a variety of lanes and routes for those behind the wheel of their ODYSSEY 21 machines to take in order to maximise their performance.
Once again, though, it was X44’s Sébastien Loeb and Cristina Gutiérrez who ended Saturday qualifying ahead of the pack. Despite an off-course excursion for Gutiérrez during her Qualifying 1 lap, the #44 squad’s overall pace in the morning session ensured they topped the timesheets maintaining their 100 per cent record as fastest qualifiers. A trouble-free Qualifying 2 run meant for an even faster time in the afternoon session, ensuring Gutiérrez and four-time Sardinian Rally winner Loeb headed the field once more and confirmed their fourth-consecutive top qualifier spot.
X44 accrued a maximum 18 points, seven more than their nearest competitors and championship rivals Rosberg X Racing to lay down the gauntlet for their rivals on Finals day. Rosberg X Racing were the second fastest qualifiers, recovering impressively after the team had opened today’s qualifying in spectacular fashion. Molly Taylor rolled the squad’s ODYSSEY 21 on her opening run but, just like at the Arctic X Prix in Greenland, the Australian star remained unphased and completed her run to end RXR’s morning session sixth fastest. This left the championship leaders with plenty of work to do in Qualifying 2, and despite Johan Kristoffersson losing time on the second lap after the rear of the car leapt into the air in one of the undulating sections towards the end of the seven-kilometre route, their pace was still good enough to finish third in the session and second overall.
ABT CUPRA XE showed consistent speed throughout qualifying after overcoming power steering problems in yesterday’s Free Practice. Both Mattias Ekström and Jutta Kleinschmidt enjoyed clean runs out on the course in the morning session to finish fourth fastest in Qualifying 1. Despite a minor spin for Ekström during his afternoon run, ABT CUPRA XE ended Qualifying 2 fifth fastest to secure third overall.
Despite picking up bodywork damage in Qualifying 1, the ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team pairing of Carlos Sainz Snr. and Laia Sanz enjoyed an impressive start and were second quickest in the morning session. However, a spin for Sanz on her Qualifying 2 run, caused by a steering issue, hampered the team’s progress in the afternoon session, while a reset by Sainz in the switch zone caused further delays. Sainz brought the car home safely to finish eighth quickest in Qualifying 2 and ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team’s earlier speed ensured they finished fourth fastest overall.
SEGI TV Chip Ganassi Racing were quick out of the blocks in Free Practice, but disaster struck early on in Qualifying 1 as Sara Price was forced to abort her lap with a broken suspension. This meant the team were unable to set a time and ended the morning session in last. However, SEGI TV Chip Ganassi Racing bounced back in impressive style in the Qualifying 2, with Kyle LeDuc and Price posting the second fastest time of the afternoon to end the day fifth fastest.
Arctic X Prix winners Andretti United Extreme E endured a difficult start in Qualifying 1 with Timmy Hansen suffering a power steering issue out on the course. Although the problem was resolved in the driver switch zone in time for Catie Munnings’ first run, those earlier reliability troubles ensured the team could only manage seventh in the morning session. Hansen and Munnings, though, were able to demonstrate the true speed of their car in the afternoon session, finishing Qualifying 2 fourth fastest and sixth in the combined classification.
After suffering suspension damage in Free Practice, JBXE’s ODYSSEY 21 was repaired and ready for Qualifying 1. Kevin Hansen and Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky made up for lost time out on the course and their consistent speed secured fifth in the morning session. However, Åhlin-Kottulinsky spun towards the end of her Qualifying 2 lap and Hansen suffered minor damage on his run, which ensured JBXE finished sixth quickest in the afternoon session and seventh overall.
After looking quick in Free Practice, Veloce Racing backed that up with an impressive Qualifying 1 as Stéphane Sarrazin and Emma Gilmour enjoyed a clear run to secure the third fastest time. However, their progress was curtailed in the afternoon session as Sarrazin suffered significant damage out on the course, meaning the team were unable to set a Qualifying 2 time and ended the overall qualifying classification in eight.
XITE ENERGY RACING suffered steering damage early in their Qualifying 1 run which meant they were unable to set a time and ended the session in eighth. However, Oliver Bennett and Christine GZ were both able to complete their runs in Qualifying 2, despite Bennett receiving a 10-second penalty for a missing a checkpoint. That resulted in the team ending the afternoon session seventh quickest and ninth in the overall classification.
X44, SEGI TV Chip Ganassi Racing and Andretti United Extreme E progress through to Semi-Final 1 while Rosberg X Racing, ABT CUPRA XE and ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team go through to Semi-Final 2 with the top two from each race booking a slot on the grid for the Final. The Crazy Race will feature the bottom three teams – JBXE, Veloce Racing and XITE ENERGY RACING – with the winner earning themselves a place in the Final. With each Semi-Final now offering the opportunity to make it to the Final, it’s all to play for on finals day at the Enel X Island X Prix.
Qualifying points classification*
1 X44 (Sébastien Loeb / Cristina Gutiérrez) 18 points
2 Rosberg X Racing (Johan Kristoffersson / Molly Taylor) 11 points
3 ABT CUPRA XE (Mattias Ekström / Jutta Kleinschmidt) 11 points
4 ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team (Carlos Sainz / Laia Sanz) 10 points
5 SEGI TV Chip Ganassi Racing (Kyle LeDuc / Sara Price) 9 points
6 Andretti United Extreme E (Timmy Hansen / Catie Munnings) 9 points
7 JBXE (Kevin Hansen / Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky) 9 points
8 Veloce Racing (Stéphane Sarrazin / Emma Gilmour) 8 points
9 XITE ENERGY RACING powered by myenergi (Oliver Bennett / Christine Giampaoli Zonca) 5 points
Semi-Final 1 –
There was immediate drama in the first of Sunday’s wheel-to-wheel contests. At the wheel of the Andretti United Extreme E ODYSSEY 21 E-SUV, Timmy Hansen launched off the start line and made the best getaway as the lights went green in Semi Final 1. In doing so, Hansen cut across the nose of SEGI TV Chip Ganassi’s Sara Price and the two cars touched as the #23 car veered towards the left-hand lane.
In the aftermath, the Andretti United Extreme E machine also made slight contact with X44’s Cristina Gutiérrez. The resulting collision broke the front-left wheel of Hansen’s car while sending Gutiérrez into a huge, high-speed crash over the rocks. The damage from the contact ensured an instant retirement for X44, as the team’s run of bad luck on Finals Day continued.
Hansen would also retire on the opening lap and was later given a penalty for the incident. This demoted the team to last place and promoted X44 into second and a place in the Final, albeit with plenty of work to do to repair their heavily damaged car in time. These retirements left Price and Kyle LeDuc with a trouble-free run to victory in Semi-Final 1 and secured SEGI TV Chip Ganassi Racing’s first Final appearance of the season.
Semi-Final 2 –
With everyone still catching their breath following the opening race of the day, Semi-Final 2 was well set to be a classic. Launching from the left-hand side of the grid, Rosberg X Racing’s Johan Kristoffersson led from ABT CUPRA XE’s Mattias Ekström and ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team’s Carlos Sainz Snr. off the start line.
Having started on the right-hand side of the grid Sainz Snr., the two-time World Rally champion, briefly climbed to second, taking the alternate route off the start line. Meanwhile Ekström followed Kristoffersson and was slowed by the resulting dust from the RXR car in front. ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team’s bid for a place in the Final was short-lived, however, as Sainz Snr. was forced to drop back due to a power steering problem.
Despite the ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team being out of contention, RXR and ABT CUPRA XE continued to push their ODYSSEY 21 E-SUV’s to the limit. Their battle rumbled on after the Driver Switch zone, as ABT CUPRA XE’s Kleinschmidt gave chase to RXR’s Taylor, but the Australian star was not to be denied a comfortable Semi-Final 2 victory. Kleinschmidt brought her ABT CUPRA XE car home to take second place and also graduate to the Final, with Laia Sanz finishing a distant third due to the aforementioned steering problem.
The Crazy Race –
JBXE made it back-to-back Crazy Race victories to take their place in the Enel X Island X Prix Final. Kevin Hansen took to the front for JBXE from the start and, after fending off pressure from Veloce Racing’s Emma Gilmour and XITE ENERGY RACING’s Oliver Bennett, ensured it was a lead that the team would not lose. In her bid for first, Gilmour was forced to drop back behind Bennett as the duo diced over second for the remainder of the opening tour. The battle between the two looked set to continue after the driver switch, but disaster struck both teams on their second lap denying them a shot at victory and a place in the Final.
XITE ENERGY RACING’s Christine GZ was forced to retire following a steering issue, while Veloce Racing’s Stéphane Sarrazin suffered an enormous accident and rolled the car after making contact with the rocks. Sarrazin thankfully walked away unharmed followed his spectacular crash. Veloce Racing and XITE ENERGY RACING’s demise ensured Hansen and Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky were able to claim a comfortable Crazy Race win and graduate to the final.
Rosberg X Racing made it three wins from four races at the Enel X Island X Prix to build a commanding championship lead in the inaugural Extreme E season. RXR drivers Johan Kristoffersson and Molly Taylor kept their heads in changeable conditions to seal a dramatic victory in Sardinia ahead of ABT CUPRA XE, who secured their best result of the season in second.
It was heartbreak, though, for long-time leaders in the Final, SEGI TV Chip Ganassi Racing, after Sara Price’s crash on Lap 2 caused terminal damage and meant she had to stop on track, ensuring the team could only finish as high as fourth on their Finals debut. That meant JBXE were able to secure their third podium finish in succession with third place despite also suffering damage out on the course.
Bad luck once again befell fastest qualifiers X44 in the final as Sébastien Loeb was forced to stop out on track and retire with broken steering. Loeb was running in second behind SEGI TV’s Kyle LeDuc despite driving with a slow puncture at the time of the stoppage, which meant the team were to fall even further behind winners and championship leaders RXR in the standings.
A heavy downpour prior to lights out made for the first ‘wet’ Final of the Extreme E season, providing the five finalists with a new challenge to overcome in their bid for victory at the Enel X Island X Prix. X44 were able to take their place in the Final despite suffering heavy damage in the opening Semi-Final of the day. In a sign of the unique camaraderie demonstrated across the Extreme E paddock, X44’s efforts to rebuild their damaged car were boosted by the support of mechanics and engineerings from the Andretti United Extreme E team to get their ODYSSEY 21 ready successfully in time for the Enel X Island X Prix showpiece.
In treacherous conditions four of the five teams were able to get off the start line cleanly, although ABT CUPRA XE were left with plenty of work to do after Jutta Kleinschmidt stalled on the grid. It looked like X44 had staged a remarkable comeback to lead into the first corner, but were beaten spectactularly by LeDuc who managed to get in front after using the alternate route.
A spin for Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky put JBXE at the back of the field, while the slow-starting Kleinschmidt quickly made up ground on RXR’s Taylor to battle for third. This soon became a three-way tussle for second as Loeb began to lose pace as he struggled with a slow puncture, allowing LeDuc to build an impressive lead out in front.
After Loeb was forced to retire with broken steering, Taylor and Kleinschmidt remained nose-to-tail in their battle for second as they headed towards the Driver Switch zone. As LeDuc exited his SEGI TV Chip Ganassi Racing car in the Driver Switch zone following a superb opening lap, it appeared the so-far luckless team were about to complete a heroic turnaround and bring home their first Extreme E win. However, they were cruelly denied as Price suffered terminal damage to her car after making contact with a rock out on the course, which ruled them out of contention for victory and meant they could only finish as high as fourth.
This left RXR’s Kristoffersson in the lead and chased by Mattias Ekström, who continued on at great speed despite driving without his left-hand door throughout the lap. The ABT CUPRA XE driver was no match for Kristoffersson, though, who kept up the pressure to extend his lead and take RXR’s third win of the campaign and put his team as the firm favourites for championship glory at the final Extreme E X Prix of the season in Dorset, UK, in December.
- Rosberg X Racing (Johan Kristoffersson / Molly Taylor) 129 points
- X44 (Sébastien Loeb / Cristina Gutiérrez) 113 points
- Andretti United Extreme E (Timmy Hansen / Catie Munnings) 93 points
- JBXE (Kevin Hansen / Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky) 92 points
- ABT CUPRA XE (Mattias Ekström / Jutta Kleinschmidt) 83 points
- ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team (Carlos Sainz Snr. / Laia Sanz) 78 points
- SEGI TV Chip Ganassi Racing (Kyle Leduc / Sara Price) 63 points
- Veloce Racing (Stéphane Sarrazin / Emma Gilmour) 60 points
- XITE ENERGY RACING (Oliver Bennett / Christine Giampaoli Zonca) 55 points
Here’s some videos of action:
Here’s how Arctic XPrix in Extreme E panned out
[Note: The above is per the press release from Extreme E]