Extreme E returned last weekend, after an almost two-month gap, and it didn’t disappoint, with action and drama throughout. The Odyssey cars took to the beaches of Senegal for the Ocean X-Prix, where the sand was once again the terrain standing between the drivers and a successful weekend. As we saw in Saudi Arabia, weekends were made or ruined by a minor mistake, and this can happen to any team when competing in such a new category. Here’s a rundown of what happened in Senegal, as RXR dominated once again.
Team X44 were impressive during the first part of qualifying on the beach, taking the fastest time, although the top 3 were only separated by 10 seconds. Loeb and Gutierrez outpaced the Chip Ganassi car of Price and LeDuc by 4.23 seconds. The Abt Cupra car qualified 3rd but was moved to 4th after a driver change infringement as replacement Kleinschmidt took over from Ekström, leaving Rosberg X Racing to take the third position in the standings. JBXE took 5th with Button’s replacement of Kevin Hansen, using his rally experience to get quickly up to speed in the electric SUV. After a poor Round 1 in Saudi Arabia, Veloce’s Chadwick was finally given her chance in the car, finishing 6th alongside Sarrazin, with Xite Energy taking a trouble-free 7th. The same cannot be said for the Andretti United and Acciona Sainz teams. Sanz stopped on track after a heavy impact caused an electrical issue, and although she was able to get the car going briefly before it stopped once again, leaving them with a lot of work to do in Q2. The same also occurred to Timmy Hansen in the Andretti United car, although he could restart the car, leaving them over 3 minutes off the pace, but with a time on the board.
The second round of qualifying was also dominated by X44, who set the only sub-11-minute time of the session. They were followed by Abt Cupra, who clearly had a point to prove after their penalty during Q1, finishing 10 seconds back. RXR rounded out the top-3 after another safe but quick performance from the Rosberg team. JBXE finished in 4th again, with Andretti United able to recover some of their time to finish 5th, followed by Acciona Sainz in 6th, although this wasn’t good enough for either team to reach the end semi-finals. Veloce ended the second qualifying in 7th, but the early issues for the two teams ahead of them meant that they were through to their first semi-final, something good to see after such a disastrous Desert X-Prix. Xite Energy took the final spot in the semi-finals, despite finishing 8th in the second qualifying session. Chip Ganassi finished the session in a disappointing 9th after their car also had an issue on the track, causing them to stop and restart the car. This shows just how vital it is to ensure the car doesn’t stop on course, with all three teams ruled out of any further success over the weekend because of this.
Classification after Qualifying:
1. X44 (Gutiérrez/Loeb) 21m44.856s
2. Rosberg X Racing (Taylor/Kristoffersson) +27.58s
3. Abt Cupra (Kleinschmidt/Ekström) +35.95s
4. JBXE (Åhlin-Kottulinsky/Hansen) +40.57s
5. Veloce Racing (Sarrazin/Chadwick) +1m20.51s
6. Xite Energy (GZ/Bennett) +1m51.60s
7. Chip Ganassi (LeDuc/Price) +3m56.95s
8. Andretti United (Munnings/Hansen) +4m12.21s
9. Acciona Sainz (Sanz/Sainz) +1 Lap
This weekend, a new semi-final system was in place that saw the top 3 together in the first round and the mid-3 teams together in the second semi-final, meaning a top placing team was to lose out on the final. This was how the weekend began to fall apart for Abt Cupra, who were leading into the driver switch but lost out on two places due to a radio issue, meaning they finished last and were ruled out of the final. The round was won by Taylor and Kristoffersson in the RXR car, who beat the X44 into the first gate, with Kristoffersson taking a wide line to undercut Loeb and then kept the position throughout the race.
With two places left for the final and three worthy teams fighting for them, semi-final 2 was set up to be a good one. Hansen in the JBXE started well to take the lead, with Chadwick and Bennett duelling behind. Chadwick kept P2 from the Xite Energy car behind her, but an issue with the pit limiter for Veloce gave Bennett an advantage. While the JBXE continued to put time between themselves and the rest of the field, the fight continued behind them. Despite technical issues continuing for Veloce, Sarrazin was able to win the fight, ending the weekend for the Xite Energy team.
With three teams who were not expected to be in the shootout battling each other for the final few points, this race was never going to be disappointing. Timmy Hansen took the lead into the first corner with Price in P2 with Sainz behind her. The experience of Sainz meant he was able to fight back, however, to take the lead going into the driver switch, but this didn’t last for long. LeDuc, who had started his stint in third, fought back strongly, overtaking Munnings for second then going on to take the win from Sanz. An outstanding performance from the Chip Ganassi Racing driver who will be disappointed to have missed out on showing this skill in a final in both of the first two rounds of X-Prix.
4 teams were left to line up for the final, but two cars made it to the end of the first lap. After colliding with the RXR car when fighting for the lead, Gutierrez’ X44 had suspension damage, bringing an early close to the Hamilton team’s impressive weekend. A bump in the terrain left the JBXE car in a similar position, with the car stopping with suspension issues which ultimately blocked the track and led to a red flag on the race. With Veloce and RXR both left confused during the driver change as a red flag was called, the best option was to do another standing start as Kristoffersson and Chadwick began their laps. The RXR driver was able to take the lead immediately and kept it, with both drivers successfully finishing their laps. However, the Swedish driver was 14.676 seconds ahead of his British counterpart by the end of the lap.
Rosberg X Racing (Johan Kristoffersson / Molly Taylor) 71 points
X44 (Sébastien Loeb / Cristina Gutiérrez) 57 points
JBXE (Jenson Button / Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky) 44 points
Andretti United Extreme E (Timmy Hansen / Catie Munnings) 37 points
XITE ENERGY RACING (Oliver Bennett / Christine GZ) 37 points
ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team (Carlos Sainz / Laia Sanz) 36 points
ABT Cupra XE (Mattias Ekström / Claudia Hürtgen) 35 points
Veloce Racing (Stéphane Sarrazin / Jamie Chadwick) 31 points
Segi TV Chip Ganassi Racing (Kyle LeDuc / Sara Price) 30 points
Another exceptional weekend for the RXR team leaves them with a large gap in the championship, with X44 and JBXE rounding out a top-3 entirely managed by legends of the F1 world. After an outstanding first weekend, then an abysmal second round, Andretti move to 4th, although the Xite Energy team couldn’t be closer to them, with Acciona Sainz only one point behind both teams in 6th. The bottom 6 teams are split by just 7 points, showing how much there is still to gain and fight for in the next 3 rounds of the new series.