image courtesy of ExtremeE Carl Bingham
The reigning Extreme E champions, RXR, got their title defence off to a dream start as they crossed the line to win the Desert X Prix.
Semi Final 1:
Race day for the Desert X Prix kicked off with Semi Final 1 as X44, RXR, and Xite Energy looked to book their place in the final.
The lights went out and John Kristofferson of RXR and Cristina Gutierrez of X44 were neck and neck for first position as they approached the first flag. Unfortunately for X44, Cristina went slightly off line and lost out to both RXR and Xite Energy.
As the first lap progressed Tamara Molinaro in the Xite Energy car hounded Johan Kristofferson, but a mistake saw her lose a position to Gutierrez. They came into the switch zone RXR, X44, then Xite Energy, all seemingly close to one another.
After the changeover of drivers, the Xite Energy and X44 cars jostled hard for position as they looked to close in on Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky in the RXR machine. However, in the battle between Xite Energy and X44, Oliver Bennett knocked over a flag which would see Xite Energy handed a ten-second time penalty.
It was relatively plain-sailing for Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky out front until she made what could have been a crucial error. Capitalising on her mistake, both Loeb in the X44 and Bennett in the Xite Energy overtook her, with the latter swapping positions with the RXR car for much of the rest of the lap.
X44 crossed the line first to book their place in the final as Xite Energy just pipped the RXR car to the post. Luckily for RXR, the time penalty given to Xite Energy saw the German team promoted into second place, and also secure their place in the final.
Semi Final 1 Classification:
- X44 9:05.107
- RXR +7.660
- Xite Energy +17.590
Semi Final 2:
ABT Cupra were supposed to be lining up alongside Andretti United and Chip Ganassi in the second semi final, but were replaced by Acciona Sainz after the stewards deemed an incident between the two in qualifying was the fault of ABT Cupra.
It was lights out and away the teams went with Laia Sanz in the Acciona Sainz getting the best initial getaway. Kyle Leduc in the Chip Ganassi was not one to let the lead get away, however, and used his hyperdrive to gain first place.
Leduc didn’t look back after that, handing over to Sara Price in the switch zone in a very good position. Behind them, Acciona Sainz were just able to stay ahead of Andretti United as they came into the switch.
Upon leaving the switch zone, Carlos Sainz in the Acciona Sainz car and Timmy Hansen in the Andretti United car were nose to tail. Disaster struck then for Hansen, as he struck a tuft of grass whilst trying to overtake. The car rolled but thankfully Timmy Hansen got out of the car seemingly unharmed.
With two places in the final up for grabs and only two cars left in the race, Carlos Sainz and Sara Price cruised home to the finish.
Semi Final 2 Classification:
- Chip Ganassi 9:12.337
- Acciona Sainz +6.850
- Andretti United +1 Lap
The fifth and final place in the final was to be contested by JBXE, ABT Cupra, McLaren, and Veloce. Veloce reserve driver Hedda Hosas replaced Christine GZ, who had broken her foot in a crash on qualifying day.
Off the line JBXE got an early lead as Emma Gilmour in the McLaren produced a stunning move around the outside to go from fourth to second.
Meanwhile the bad weekend continued for Veloce as Lance Woolridge hit a bump too hard and damaged the car.
Jutta Kleinschmidt in the ABT Cupra sought to chase down Emma Gilmour and the two came into the switch zone neck and neck, just behind Kevin Hansen in the JBXE but some distance ahead of the Veloce car.
After the switch, Tanner Foust in the McLaren and Nasser Al-Attiyah in the ABT Cupra looked to close the gap to Molly Taylor in the JBXE car.
Towards the end of the race, Foust and Al-Attiyah had finally caught up to Taylor and the former used all his experience to send his car down the inside. Al-Attiyah behind soon followed.
That’s how the race would finish with McLaren crossing the line to reach an impressive final on debut. Meanwhile, JBXE were handed a seven-second time penalty for speeding in the pitlane, although this didn’t change the end result.
Crazy Race Classification:
- McLaren 9:14.250
- ABT Cupra +2.642
- JBXE +11.623
- Veloce +3:39.676
Acciona Sainz, RXR, Chip Ganassi, X44, and McLaren all lined up on the grid for the final, hoping to get their seasons off to the best possible start.
Carlos Sainz in the Acciona Sainz car got off to a great start, leading out X44 and RXR as they reached the first flag. Foust in the McLaren and Price in the Chip Ganassi were just behind.
But then tragedy struck for McLaren. Unsighted by the dust, Foust drove into the back of RXR’s Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky and rolled the car. Thankfully he was able to walk away but McLaren would go no further on an impressive debut.
Nothing changed for the rest of the lap and a red flag was called just as the other four teams entered the switch zone.
Once Foust had been assessed and the stricken McLaren moved, the race restarted, with teams being staggered according to how they came in. Laia Sanz in the Acciona Sainz went first with Cristina Gutierrez in the X44 machine not far behind. A bit further back Johan Kristofferson for RXR and Kyle Leduc for Chip Ganassi were released.
In the final lap shootout the damaged RXR car looked to chase down the two leaders. Using his hyperdrive to make the move, Kristofferson overtook last year’s championship runners up X44.
An inspired move came next from Kristofferson as he used all of the width of the course to carry as much momentum as possible into the final corners, snatching the lead off of Acciona Sainz. RXR crossed the line first, swiftly followed by Acciona Sainz and X44. Chip Ganassi was a little further behind in fourth.
- RXR 17:50.908
- Acciona Sainz +2.483
- X44 +5.807
- Chip Ganassi +25.202
- McLaren +2 Laps
RXR top the weekend classification with that win in the final, seeing them claim twenty-five crucial points in their bid to retain the title.
Elsewhere McLaren come an impressive fifth place overall, gaining them ten points on debut and X44 got twenty points (fifteen for finishing third and five for having the fastest time through the Continental Traction Challenge).
- Acciona Sainz
- Chip Ganassi
- Andretti United
- Xite Energy
- ABT Cupra
- RXR 25 Points
- X44 20 Points
- Acciona Sainz 18 Points
- Chip Ganassi 12 Points
- McLaren 10 Points
- Andretti United 8 Points
- Xite Energy 6 Points
- ABT Cupra 4 Points
- JBXE 2 Points
- Veloce 1 Point