X44’s Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez led the way in qualifying in Sardinia for the Enel X Island X Prix, on 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 series drivers, with a variety of lanes and routes for those behind the wheel of their ODYSSEY 21 machines to take in order to maximize their performance.
Despite an off-course excursion for Gutiérrez during her Qualifying 1 lap, the No. 44 squad’s overall pace in the morning session ensured they topped the times, maintaining their 100 percent record as fastest qualifiers this season. A trouble-free Qualifying 2 run meant for an even faster time in the afternoon session, ensuring Gutierrez and four-time Sardinian Rally winner Loeb headed the field once more and confirmed their fourth-consecutive top qualifier spot.
🇫🇷 Loeb on a CHARGE.
— Extreme E (@ExtremeELive) October 23, 2021
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 was unfazed 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-kilometer 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 Ekstrom 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 Ekstrom 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 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, the Ganassi team 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 Ahlin-Kottulinsky made up for lost time out on the course and their consistent speed secured fifth in the morning session. However, Ahlin-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 Stephane 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 progressed 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.