All smiles at Ganassi after a rollercoaster Copper X Prix

Charly Lopez/Extreme E

All smiles at Ganassi after a rollercoaster Copper X Prix

Extreme E

All smiles at Ganassi after a rollercoaster Copper X Prix

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Finishing fourth doesn’t usually result in big smiles, especially when you’ve just lost a podium finish after a post-race ruling – and even more so when your boss is famous for his love of “winners”.

But for Chip Ganassi Racing, Kyle LeDuc and Sara Price’s fourth place result in Extreme E’s Copper X Prix after finishing third on the road – and momentarily boosted to second due to a penalty for first place finishers McLaren before they got a penalty of their own – was very much a bonus.

That’s because after missing out on a transfer spot with third in their semifinal, LeDuc and Price weren’t supposed to contest the Copper X Prix’s showpiece final, but a rare technical issue for runaway championship leaders Rosberg X Racing handed them a lifeline.

“We were in sixth with the results from our semi race, but because we were the fastest semi race, that was able to give us a provisionary position if someone never showed up to the start – which has never happened but obviously it happened with RXR,” LeDuc told RACER.

“So we had maybe two minutes, max, to be able to get suits on and get in the car to go to the [start] line so it was absolute chaos.”

Price added: “Yeah it was absolutely wild, just last-minute, ‘oh my gosh we’re going, we’re doing this’. [It was the] lowest of lows to highest of highs, it was crazy!”

LeDuc was the driver to take the start, joining an all-star lineup of Sebastien Loeb, Nasser Al-Attiyah, Carlos Sainz, and Tanner Foust on the grid, and the late call-up also meant that he and the Ganassi team had to think on their feet when it came to race strategy.

“That was pure chaos because we weren’t planning to be there,” he said. “It’s not like we were advancing the car from [a] semi race to the final, we weren’t doing anything.

“We watched it and had it [the car] sitting there ready to work on but we knew we were the next team if that oddball thing came up.

“It was a hare scramble, and then you’re sitting on the line. I had maybe three minutes to kind of get on top of the blood pressure and just start to try to develop a plan, but I’m not even thinking where I’m starting, Hyperdrive, all these scenarios that you’re trying to figure out but I think all-in-all we made, somewhat, the best of it.”

RXR’s problem, a software issue, was the first such hurdle that team has faced in almost two years of Extreme E competition. Save for a mechanical failure after a hard jump landing in Greenland last year, the Nico Rosberg-owned team has had an impeccable reliability record and has never missed a final until now. Meanwhile Ganassi has been perhaps the unluckiest team in the series, often recording fast times only to be let down by problems later on.

This time the roles were reversed though, and given the Ganassi pair’s previous setbacks, they actually sympathized with their fallen rivals, while RXR’s Johan Kristoffersson and Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky were equally gracious.

“I think it was actually pretty cool when we were rushing, we got up to the Command Center [and] they both came up to us to say good luck,” said Price. “But yeah, it’s crazy – all of us usually have issues and they don’t so we know what it’s like to be in their shoes. So we get it.”

The crazy turn of events means that RXR didn’t wrap up a second-straight title with a round to spare as many had predicted. Instead, Ganassi remains in with a shot at a first crown, albeit as the lowest-placed of four teams still vying for championship honors, 13 points off the top spot with a maximum of 30 available at the final round.

“Yeah it’s long shot for us, [after] finishing fourth,” LeDuc conceded. “But it’s not over yet so the battle will continue. It’s good for the series, good for the sport, good for the fans that follow along.”

The 2022 Extreme E season concludes on November 26-27 with the Energy X Prix in Punta del Este, Uruguay.

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