X44 Vida Carbon Racing, the Extreme E team owned by Formula 1 star Lewis Hamilton, scored its first Extreme E victory of 2022 in a wild Copper X Prix final in Chile.
The four-lap contest on the 3.05km/1.9-mile course in the Antofagasta desert ended with confusion over the winner, with on-the road victors McLaren Racing subject to penalties for clipping track markers. There was the potential for a similar punishment for X44 too, but with that flag not falling entirely, stewards decided not to take action.
X44 was the early leader with Sebastien Loeb gapping the all-male starting field early on, but McLaren’s Tanner Foust soon closed that gap, sweeping by at the end of the second lap, just before the driver change.
After Cristina Gutierrez took over the X44 car from Loeb, she immediately utilized her “Hyperdrive” power boost to retake the lead from McLaren’s Emma Gilmour. Like her teammate though, Gilmour mounted a fightback and returned to first, at the same spot as Foust, on the final lap. But with Foust clipping a flag on her run, and Gilmour doing the same, McLaren was eventually classified fifth.
The decision promoted Acciona Sainz’s Carlos Sainz and Laia Sanz to second and Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kyle LeDuc and Sara Price to third initially for clipping a track marker, and then later fourth for missing Waypoint 11 on lap 3, with Abt Cupra snatching the final podium spot.
Well done @TeamX44! 🏆
We 💚 a champagne shower on the podium 🍾 #ExtremeE #CopperXPrix pic.twitter.com/WpvlZHFgd1
— Extreme E (@ExtremeELive) September 25, 2022
Regardless of the post-race rulings, Ganassi’s result was perhaps the most remarkable of all considering the team shouldn’t have even been in the final.
After finishing their semifinal in third, LeDuc and Price were set to watch the main event from the sidelines, but a software glitch for championship leaders Rosberg X Racing — which won the first semi — meant that they missed the deadline to get to the grid, promoting Ganassi.
In the final, the Ganassi duo stayed out of trouble to maximize their opportunity. Meanwhile Acciona Sainz and Abt Cupra (Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson) engaged in a tense race-long battle which ended with Acciona Sainz prevailing, albeit with Sanz crossing the line with a severe right-rear tire puncture.
Abt Cupra enjoyed a similar redemption story with its podium after Andersson was dropped into the team on Saturday morning due to an injury for regular driver Jutta Kleinschmdt during practice.
Before the manic final, the preliminary races were no less dramatic. Andretti United carried its strong Saturday form into the semis, where Catie Munnings made an excellent start, but obcsured visibility on a freshly-wetted track dropped the team back. Timmy Hansen mounted a comeback charge but finished 0.3s off advancing.
The second semi was similar, with X44 heading home Abt Cupra, which just held off Ganassi.
In the “Crazy Race” last chance qualifier, where only the winner could advance, McLaren recovered from a heavy collision with JBXE to win and advance.
The combination of RXR’s absence from the final, Acciona Sainz and Ganassi’s final results, and McLaren taking five points away from the championship protagonists by going fastest in the “Contentental Traction Challenge” sector of the course during the weekend, means that the championship will be decided at the final round in Uruguay on November 26-27.
The Copper X Prix airs tonight on FOX Sports 1 at 6pm ET.