Rosberg X Racing claimed its first-ever top qualifying result in Extreme E at the first of two Island X Prix, ending Team X44’s unbeaten qualifying run despite a late charge from the Lewis Hamilton-backed team.
The Nico Rosberg-owned oufit topped the opening timed session, before adding a win in the opening five-car heat race.
Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Johan Kristoffersson’s Q1 combined two-lap time of 9 minutes 13.966 seconds was almost 12s quicker than Acciona Sainz’s Laia Sanz and Carlos Sainz, while Andretti United’s Caite Munnings and Timmy Hansen were third fastest.
Abt Cupra’s Dakar veteran pairing of Jutta Kleinschmidt and Nasser Al-Attiyah were fourth, with XITE Energy Racing’s Tamara Molinaro and Timo Scheider completing the top five. JBXE’s Hedda Hosas and Kevin Hasen were sixth, and last of the trouble-free runners.
X44’s Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez completed the first part of qualifying, but only after Loeb lost the right-rear tire after landing sideways from the jump just after Waypoint 15. He wrestled the car back to the switch zone, shedding bodywork along the way, and after a delayed tire change Gutierrez completed the session.
McLaren and Veloce Racing both suffered similar fates in Q1, with a bump on the course leading to mechanical failures on the front right of both cars.
Veloce’s Woolridge was first to fall, bending a top arm, which started a chain reaction of other breakages on the front right of the car. McLaren’s Tanner Foust suffered an almost identical failure later in the session, stopping two gates later than the South African.
RXR then backed up its dominant Q1 win with a routine victory in its Q2 heat.
Kristoffersson launched into an early lead, with X44’s Gutierrez initially putting up a fight, before dropping back. That left Andretti United’s Munnings and Scheider of XITE Energy Racing to fight over second place. Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kyle LeDuc was also a factor in that battle before stopping at Waypoint 8. That stoppage came after a motor failure in Q1 compounding a difficult day for the team.
Munnings initially held off Scheider with the German having a look at the 21st Waypoint. Munnings stayed resolute, but ran wide two gates later. She maintained position though, but as the course opened up, Scheider finally got by at 26.
At the switch, Kristoffersson handed the RXR car over to Ahlin-Kottulinsky with a 12.34s advantage. The X44 entry, now piloted by Loeb, began to hunt down the XITE and Andretti cars, now driven by Molinaro and Hansen respectively.
A slow zone between Waypoints 7-9 provided the pivotal moment of the race, when Loeb got on the power before Hansen, seizing the opportunity to gain a place. Loeb was initially under investigation for the move, but no action was taken, despite protests from Hansen and teammate Munnings.
Loeb’s charge continued, taking an alternate line into Waypoint 21, and while Molinaro used her Hyperdrive boost before then, Loeb saved his until after he got by two gates later.
At race end, Loeb and X44 finished 9.02s adrift of RXR’s Ahlin-Kottulinsky, with Molinaro holding on for third and Andretti’s Hansen fourth.
The second heat was won by Acciona Sainz in a similar fashion, Sainz getting the best start of the bunch.
Foust challenged the rally legend early on before slipping behind Veloce’s Christine Giampaoli Zonca and Nasser Al-Attiyah, only to retake second by using an alternate line to the duelling Veloce and Abt duo.
Sainz and Foust were soon gapping the field, although the former still held a 5.94s lead at the switch midway. With Foust handing off to Gilmour, McLaren soon lost second with Woolridge controversially passing the Papaya machine in the switch zone.
That top-three held station until the end of the race, Sanz finishing 6.18s ahead of Woolridge, Gilmour just over four seconds back from him having not been able to find a way past through the dust.
A late dash from JBXE’s Kevin Hansen meant he finished just 0.23s behind Gilmour, with Kleinschmidt the remaining finisher.
With points from both qualifying sessions being combined, and the top six runners moving into the semifinals (first, fourth, and fifth going to the first semi, second, third, and sixth going into the second), RXR, Andretti United, and XITE will contest the first of those tomorrow.
Acciona Sainz, Abt Cupra, and X44 will race in the second, with the remaining team’s contesting the “Crazy Race.” The top two finishers from each semi will advance to the final, with the Crazy Race winner joining them for a five-car main event.