X44 claims top qualifier spot for Enel X Island X Prix

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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.

Extreme E 2021: Island X Prix
© Alastair Staley / LAT Images. Extreme E

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.

Wheel-to-wheel action gets underway tomorrow (Sunday, 24 October). For more information on how to watch in your region, click here.

  • 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


*Qualifying points classification is a provisional result

Semi-Final 1: X44, SEGI TV Chip Ganassi Racing and Andretti United Extreme E

Semi-Final 2: Rosberg X Racing, ABT CUPRA XE and ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team

Crazy Race: JBXE, Veloce Racing and XITE ENERGY RACING

Extreme E 2021: Island X Prix
© Andrew Ferraro / LAT Images. Extreme E

Driver quotes

Sébastien Loeb, X44, said: “We achieved what we wanted to today which was to be the fastest team so I’m very happy with the result. It’s the fourth race now that we have come first in qualifying – which is great – but we know that the hardest challenge comes with the semi-final and final so we will continue to focus and do what we can to beat the other teams. At the moment the track is quite dry and can have a lot of dust so we need to make sure we have the best start possible tomorrow.”

Cristina Gutiérrez, X44, said: “Today was a difficult day because the track is not an easy one. It can be narrow and tricky in places so it was really important to take a good line, but ultimately Seb and I came first in both rounds of qualifying so of course we’re happy with the result. Tomorrow we need to take on Andretti United and Chip Ganassi Racing in the semi-final so it will be a tough challenge but we’re feeling confident.”

Johan Kristoffersson, Rosberg X Racing, said: “The circuit is certainly demanding here in Sardinia with many technical challenges and of course, the first water splash of the season so it’s been an interesting start to the weekend for myself and Molly. I think we can take a lot of positives from qualifying today and I’m looking forward to racing tomorrow, especially now we are even more familiar with the racing lines.”

Molly Taylor, Rosberg X Racing driver, said: “We anticipated this would be a challenging course and we were correct. Despite having a roll in the first session, I’m pleased we didn’t lose too much time and I really then focussed on Round 2, making sure I could give the team the best result possible. The field is looking very close so I think tomorrow will provide an exciting race.

Mattias Ekström, ABT CUPRA XE, said: “While the first run today was trouble-free I had a little 360 in the second qualifying which I hope everyone liked to watch. That put us into the second semifinal where the start will be crucial as track position will be key considering all the dust. In general, the track is pretty cool. It’s very bumpy, very rough and fast.”

Jutta Kleinschmidt, ABT CUPRA XE, said: “It was a day with ups and downs for us. Finally, we ended up in third position which leaves everything on the table for tomorrow. The track is very demanding and provides a lot of places to make mistakes so let’s make only very few of them. Tomorrow is a completely different day when we are not going for the fastest time but racing against each other. That’s going to be very exciting.”

Carlos Sainz Snr., ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team, said: “I have a bittersweet feeling at the moment. Qualifying 1 was pretty good because we finished second, but in Qualifying 2 we ran into several technical issues that dragged us back and that cost us a lot of time. In the end, we qualified in fourth place. Tomorrow we will race in the Semi-Final 2 against strong competition, but we will give our best, as we always do.”

Laia Sanz, ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team, said: “We finished fourth in Qualifying. We were second in Qualifying 1 and we were pretty satisfied with that because both myself and Carlos had a really good pace. It is a shame what happened in the afternoon. It is a bittersweet feeling because we couldn’t hold on to the pace that we wanted due to an issue in the steering system. This cost us some time, but we are still optimistic going into Sunday because we know our pace is there. We want to leave this X Prix with a good result. Hopefully, we will do a good semi-final and we will qualify for the final.”

Sara Price, SEGI TV Chip Ganassi Racing, said: “Today was a wild one for us to say the least. This morning was a little wild in the car. I got a little out of sorts and into a rock in the first qualifying that resulted in some damage to the left rear suspension. The guys got everything fixed up and our second round laps were good. We pulled off second fast in that round, which put us fifth overall for qualifying. It’s a really good spot for us. We finally got some more track time in, and we’re able to work some bugs out. So hopefully tomorrow goes good.”

Kyle LeDuc, SEGI TV Chip Ganassi Racing, said: “Round one did not go very well for us, but round two went really well. Me and Sara put two good lap together for a good overall time. I ran first and Sara brought the car home for the final lap. We had a couple of mistakes, but bounced back for a solid day. We’re all happy with how we finished the day, and are looking forward to tomorrow.”

Timmy Hansen, Andretti United Extreme E, said: “Qualifying 1 didn’t go to plan – just over 100m into the lap, the power steering went so I lost a lot of time. I have an old shoulder injury from 2016 and I dislocated my right shoulder, but I managed to push on. I was happy to get the car back to Catie [Munnings], but I was obviously disappointed to lose time. I got some painkillers from the medical team afterwards and everything felt better in Qualifying 2. The adrenaline kicks in anyway! Today was about managing the car, I’m sure some people at home probably ask why do we risk it but honestly it’s hard to take it steady in these cars – we are racing drivers after all!”

Catie Munnings, Andretti United Extreme E, said: “The track is here is tough, with so many different routes you can take which we’ve seen a lot today, but generally we’re happy with our pace despite some of the issues we had. In any case, some of the teams who didn’t do well in Qualifying 1 didn’t fare so well in the second qualifying, which is where we did much better and managed to get back up the leaderboard. Timmy and I have got some prep to do tonight so that we’re ready to battle tomorrow in the semis.”

Stéphane Sarrazin, Veloce Racing, said: “Qualifying 1 was very good, we ended up P3 which is our best performance in quali since the start of the season. The car was really good and the team did a great job, Emma was really fast also. Unfortunately, during the second qualifying session I went into the second sector and one part of the power steering was broken so I had to stop on the course. It was a shame we weren’t able to continue but we still showed good pace again.”

Emma Gilmour, Veloce Racing, said: “It was a disappointing end to our day after such a great start. We were all really happy with our pace this morning, Stéphane and I were driving well together and improving the car. We were in a strong position so when the car just broke in Q2 it was so disappointing for the team. Obviously now we end up in the crazy race which means we have one shot at getting through to the final. I’m going to be first in the car so it’s going to be a really important start tomorrow morning, we need to pick the right line and attack hard so bring it on!”

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