Veloce Racing’s new driver pairing of Kevin Hansen and Molly Taylor took top qualifying spot on their first time out at Extreme E’s Energy X Prix as the main championship challengers endured a torrid day.
Both Rosberg X Racing and Team X44 failed to finish the first part of qualifying – the timed solo session – after rolling out. Dry conditions resulted in massively increased grip which, coupled with the high center of gravity of Extreme E’s Odyssey 21 race car, meant that a number of drivers were caught out.
JBXE’s Hedda Hosas was the first to roll, doing so through Waypoint 13 on her second lap. RXR’s Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky then met a similar fate in the same sector at the 15th gate, and also on her second lap, before X44’s Cristina Gutiérrez suffered the most violet tumble of the three.
While JBXE and RXR’s cars suffered only superficial bodywork damage, X44 was forced to switch to the series’ development car, finishing at the bottom of the timesheets in Q1. Q2 was crucial for RXR and X44, the two teams that occupy the top two spots in the standings.
The first heat was won by Andretti United’s Timmy Hansen and Catie Munnings, who scooped the win despite being hit by a 5s penalty for Hansen not parking properly in the Switch Zone. A late charge from Acciona Sainz’s Laia Sainz wasn’t enough to overhaul them, Munnings eking out a lead of over 8s to neutralize the 5s penalty.
Chip Ganassi Racing took third, ahead of X44, with XITE Energy Racing completing the Heat 1 field after an early spin for series debutant Ezequiel Companc.
While X44 finished Heat 1 in fourth, they sacrificed race position for a shot at the “Traction Challenge” to be in with a shot at gaining an extra five championship points. Sebastien Loeb went quickest in the sector, despite driving an unfamiliar car with an unfamiliar setup.
Things didn’t quite go as well for RXR. An early battle for the Heat 2 win with Abt Cupra soured after Nasser Al-Attiyah ran into the back of RXR’s Johan Kristoffersson on the first lap. RXR subsequently retired with the car failing to restart once Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky took the wheel at the midway point.
Klara Andersson managed to drag the wounded Abt Cupra car home in first after a late pass on Veloce’s Taylor, but subsequently lost the win post-race as a result of a 30s penalty for Al-Attiyah’s collision.
Hedda Hosas secured second in Heat 2, third on the road, after taking over from Fraser McConnell who was in the hunt for the win early on. McLaren completed the finishers with a quiet run to fourth.
The manic qualifying day means that the championship goes into its final day as open as ever.
Both RXR and X44 will contest the last chance qualifier ‘Crazy Race’ as a result of their performance across both qualifying sessions, with only one able to advance from that race – it is the first time one of either of those teams hasn’t topped qualifying in Extreme E’s short history. Meanwhile, outsiders Acciona Sainz and Chip Ganassi Racing will both contest the same semifinal, although two teams from each of those will advance.
Semifinal 1 will comprise first (Veloce), fourth (Ganassi), and fifth (Cupra), with second (Acciona Sainz), third (Andretti), and sixth (McLaren) going into the other semi. The remainder of the field (JBXE, XITE, X44, and RXR) will run in the Crazy Race.