Rosberg X Racing Takes the Win at the First-Ever Extreme E Race

Could this be the start of a new era? Read on to hear about the electrifying inaugural weekend of Extreme E!

Written by Eline Luna

April 9, 2021

Last week the inaugural season of Extreme E kicked off in the Al-Ula Desert of Saudi Arabia. Extreme E, the off-road electric series, races with the ODYSSEY 21 that was first revealed at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2019. The 400KW machine capable of firing up from 0-100km drove the last stage of the Dakar Rally in 2020.

Extreme E’s goal is to raise environmental awareness. To reduce the carbon footprint left by travel, the whole paddock, including all cars, travels by sea. The boat, St. Helena, arrived in Saudi Arabia three weeks before the race. The ship also carried the AFC Energy hydrogen fuel cell to provide zero-emission charging to the cars.

The race weekend kicked off on Wednesday, where the whole field spent the day learning about the endangered Green and Hawksbill turtles in the region from Professor Carlos Duarte, followed by a beach clean-up where even team principals like Nico Roseberg participated. 

From @ExtremeELive on Twitter

The racing kicked off on Friday with two shakedown sessions, where all teams and drivers got a chance to drive for the first time on the circuit. The first shakedown session saw Sara Price having to stop her Chip Ganassi Racing car in the middle of the lap due to an electrical problem. This meant she and the team lost valuable time on track and extra knowledge as track time was limited. The bad luck for them continued as driver Kyle LeDuc crashed the car in the second shakedown session. This meant the team had to spend the night repairing the car.

Saturday saw two qualifying sessions on the schedule. Both qualifying sessions have a time trial for all teams. The time trial consists of two laps, including a driver switch. Then, the combined time of the trials in both sessions set the positions for Sunday.

The first session saw Molly Taylor and Johan Kristofferson from Rosberg X Racing on top, with the X44 team following close behind. Third place went to Carlos Sainz Sr and Laia Sanz. Andretti United finished in fourth after a heroic drive from Catie Munnings. She drove the whole lap flat out with a flat tyre to make sure they didn’t lose a lot of time.

Extreme E’s goal is to raise environmental awareness. To reduce the carbon footprint left by travel, the whole paddock, including all cars, travels by sea. The boat, St. Helena, arrived in Saudi Arabia three weeks before the race. The ship also carried the AFC Energy hydrogen fuel cell to provide zero-emission charging to the cars.

Another team with a not-so-smooth qualifying run was Jenson Button’s team. Driver Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky, unfortunately, came to a stop in the middle of her qualifying lap. The Hispano Suiza team didn’t have a quick run either, as driver Christine Giampoali Zonca sped in the driver change zone, which meant the team got a 75-second time penalty. They ended up 6th, right behind them were Chip Ganassi’s Sara Price and Kyle LeDuc, who suffered a power steering failure on their qualifying run.

The last two places went to Abt Cupra XE and Veloce Racing. Stephane Sarrazin from Veloce racing rolled the car twice during his qualifying run, damaging the chassis, which meant Veloce Racing withdrew their vehicle. Claudia Hürtgen also had a big shunt right after taking over the car from her teammate Mattias Ekström. Her car rolled over four times; both drivers walked away from the crashes unshattered, but the cars didn’t. The Abt Cupra team spent the whole night repairing their car, so they could still participate in the Shootout race.

For the second qualifying session, only six teams were able to enter. Chip Ganassi Racing joined the teams that suffered crashes in the first qualifying round, not participating in the second session as they suffered even more reliability problems.

Finishing first in the overall qualifying standings were Sébastien Loeb and Cristina Gutiérrez in the X44 car. Rosberg X Racing looked set to grab the top qualifying position, as they ran 4.7s ahead of the X44 team. Driver Molly Taylor entered the driver change zone too quickly, which resulted in a 60-second penalty. This pushed the team down to third place. Carlos Sainz Sr and Laia Sanz delivered a great run and put their car in second place.

Coming in fourth were Munnings and Hansen from Andretti United. This was an excellent recovery after Munning’s flat tyre in the first qualifying run. JBXE racing was bombarded with penalties, meaning they finished sixth. They were last in terms of the teams who were able to run in the second qualifying session.  Just in front of them were Bennett and Giampaoli Zonca from Hispano Suiza Racing. 

All nine teams, even the ones that didn’t participate in the second qualifying session, were able to get points. Veloce Racing gained four points, while X44 gained 12 points from their P1 in qualifying. 

On Sunday, a total of four races were held; the Shoot-Out, the Crazy Race, the Semi-Final, and the Final, all of them two-lap races with a driver switch. Abt Cupra XE and Chip Ganassi Racing ran in the Shoot-Out race. The race was cut short with a red flag as LeDuc ran into the back of Hürtgen, which meant no one came across the finish line. 

Andretti United, JBXE Racing, and Hispano Suiza Racing took part in the Crazy Race, with the winner of that race gaining a spot in the Final. Andretti United had a clean race with Catie Munnings crossing the finish line first, bringing Andretti into the Final along with the top 2 finishers from the semi-final. Hispano Suiza Racing finished in second and JBXE Racing finished behind them in third.

The Semi-Final included X44 Racing, Rosberg X Racing, and Acciona Sainz Racing. Kristofferson from Rosberg X Racing used the ‘hyperdrive’ boost off the starting line and managed to gain the lead into turn one. After this, Kristofferson kept his lead and handed the car over to teammate Taylor with a big lead. Taylor crossed the finish line first with an almost 29-second. X44 Racing finished in second, which meant the Acciona Sainz team could call it a weekend. 

In the Final Race, Hansen from Andretti United took the best start and led the race to turn one. But Kristofferson took a wide approach to turn 1, which gained him a speed advantage and saw him take the lead from Hansen. Kristofferson and the Rosberg X team went unchallenged as he handed the car over to Molly Taylor, who took them to the finish line in first. Behind them was Catie Munnings from Andretti United, and in third came X44 Racing. 

From @ExtremeELive on Twitter

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eline follows a variety of motorsports from Formula E to IMSA to Nascar to WEC. They hope to study Mechanical Engineering to work in motorsports one day.

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