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 final moments of the all-important Final for the electric off-road series.
Timmy Hansen and Catie Munnings claimed the victory over event-long adversaries Johan Kristoffersson and Molly Taylor, who fell at the final hurdle, blowing the championship wide open in the process.
“It feels awesome! It’s been a great afternoon and day!” said Hansen. “We’ve both had great races today and we had to work really hard for it.
“I think it (the course) was a good change (from yesterday) for the racing coming into today, actually, it kept the grid very close and for a long time. So the course was good — it was getting very rutted in the narrow section and I had a couple of moments really on the limit in the Final and then I realized I had to back off a little bit and take it easy but yes it’s been a very fun track, especially the second half because there are so many options.”
That’s how it is done 💪
— Extreme E (@ExtremeELive) August 29, 2021
The unforgiving Arctic X Prix course, combined with the series’ revised sporting format produced some of the best racing yet with the 18 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 Hansen who posted the fastest time.
Extreme E’s first-ever five-car final delivered the expected fireworks. A great start for Molly Taylor and Sebastien Loeb looked to set up the much-anticipated Rosberg X Racing vs X44 contest, but Munnings had other ideas as the Briton 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 Sr. 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.
Hansen emerged from the Switch Zone in the lead, closely followed by Johan Kristoffersson and Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, leaving Laia Sanz and Cristina Gutierrez 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, providing him with better exit speed and enabling him to draw alongside his rival. The duo remained side by side as they executed several of the course’s larger jumps in similarly exuberant fashion.
— Extreme E (@ExtremeELive) August 29, 2021
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. Ahlin-Kottulinsky kept Hansen honest to claim the runner-up spot, finishing just four seconds behind while Sanz and Sainz completed the podium with a brilliant comeback drive.
“In Qualifying 1 we thought we’ll just go with it and see, but we never imagined we’d come out on top so it’s a really special feeling,” said an exultant Munnings. “Timmy is a really incredible teammate — I learn so much from him. He’s such a good driver and obviously he always pulls it out of the bag, so it’s really cool to be working alongside him.
“I loved the challenge of this course. I think it was really different to what we’ve seen before and a new challenge for the car as well. I think what was interesting was that it literally changed every time you saw it. Every car would chuck out massive rocks and so your line might not be there so it was a very spontaneous style of driving and I also found it very hard to judge what the correct speed was, you have to think a lot more especially if you’re the first driver. Credit to Sarrazin as well for sending it across the big rocks in the Semi-Final – I think that was one of my key moments of the weekend. Fair play, if that had been pulled off that would have been incredible!”
1. Andretti United Extreme E (Timmy Hansen / Catie Munnings), 2 laps
2. JBXE(Kevin Hansen / Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky), +4.159s
3. ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team (Carlos Sainz Sr. / Laia Sanz), +22.866s
4. X44 (Sebastien Loeb / Cristina Gutierrez), +27.914s
5. Rosberg X Racing(Johan Kristoffersson / Molly Taylor), +1:01.005s