X44 Complete Qualifying Cleansweep | Extreme E: Jurassic X Prix Qualifying Report

X44 topped qualifying for the fifth race weekend in a row. Lewis Hamilton’s team have completed a cleansweep of qualifying in Extreme E’s inaugural season.

Q1:

Qualifying this weekend would look a little different to previous rounds as the short circuit saw the first drivers in the cars complete two laps, rather than just the one. Race Control also ruled that every team had to field their male driver first in this session. This of course meant all of the female drivers went out first in Q2.

ABT Cupra’s Matthias Ekstrom got qualifying underway as he put in two quick laps to set the early pace. After teammate Jutta Kleinschmidt finished off the run, the ABT Cupra had set an early benchmark time of 9:24.113.

Debutant Lance Woolridge was next to take to the track, with the South African hoping to make a good impression on his Veloce team. They set a good time, just 6 seconds off ABT Cupra.

Oliver Bennett for Xite Energy followed. After a steady first lap, he knocked over a waypoint marker on his second lap and the team subsequently received a 10 second time penalty.

The Hansen brothers, Kevin with JBXE and Timmy for Andretti United, were next, where they and their respective teammates (Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Katie Munnings) set decent laps to put their teams in the mix.

Championship leaders RXR looked to strengthen their claim on the title as they took to the track. Johan Kristofferson set a solid base for teammate Molly Taylor, who flew round the track to put the team provisionally quickest.

The challengers, X44, were supposed to follow, however repairs to their car meant Acciona Sainz were next to take to the track. Both drivers pushed very hard and the Acciona Sainz team were less than a second slower than RXR.

After fixing their car, and once Chip Ganassi had had their run, X44 finally went out to complete their laps. Sebastian Loeb got the protagonists off to a flying start and as teammate Christina Gutierrez ended the run they went quickest in the session, taking maximum classification points ahead of Q2.

Qualifying 1 Classification:

  1. X44 9:19.985 9 Points
  2. RXR +1.901 8 Points
  3. Acciona Sainz +2.757 7 Points
  4. ABT Cupra +4.128 6 Points
  5. Veloce +10.395 5 Points
  6. Andretti United +12.118 4 Points
  7. Chip Ganassi +15.181 3 Points
  8. JBXE +20.682 2 Points
  9. Xite Energy +43.015 1 Point

Q2:

As with Qualifying 1, ABT Cupra got the final qualifying session of the season under way as Jutta Kleinschmidt took the wheel. After getting off to a good start, she took a wrong turn and the German team subsequently received a time penalty for missing a waypoint. Despite this, the team were able to set a relatively competitive benchmark time of 9:29.366.

Veloce and Xite Energy followed as they both looked to improve on their Q1 result. Veloce seemed to manage just that, going provisionally fastest, whereas Xite Energy were only able to slip into 3rd.

Next was the turn of JBXE’s Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, who put in two strong laps which saw her and teammate Kevin Hansen replace Veloce at the top the times.

Katie Munnings for Andretti United followed JBXE. The Brit put in two strong laps and handed over to Timmy Hansen with the team still in the mix. However, disaster struck as Hansen crashed the car into a tree. Both car and driver were okay to continue as Andretti United completed their run 19 seconds behind JBXE’s benchmark time.

The two teams left in the championship battle went next as both tried to get the edge over the other. Molly Taylor had a steady run for RXR before Johan Kristofferson put his foot to the floor to take the fastest time in the Continental Traction Challenge. Gutierrez and Loeb for X44 were quicker over the course of the run, however, and they went provisionally fastest.

Acciona Sainz and Chip Ganassi rounded out the final qualifying session of the season. Acciona Sainz had a good run, which saw them finish third in Q2. More bad luck came Chip Ganassi’s way as there was an issue with the steering during Leduc’s lap. They propped up the Q2 classification.

Qualifying 2 Classification:

  1. X44 9:14.793 9 Points 
  2. JBXE +4.112 8 Points 
  3. Acciona Sainz +7.828 7 Points 
  4. RXR +8.545 6 Points
  5. Veloce +11.951 5 Points
  6. ABT Cupra +19.573 4 Points
  7. Xite Energy +21.464 3 Points
  8. Andretti United +23.163 2 Points
  9. Chip Ganassi +36.638 1 Point

As all the classification points were added up, X44 came out on top, comfortably ahead of RXR in second. A number of teams had the same number of classification points and they were separated based on their fastest Continental Traction Challenge time.

Overall Qualifying Classification:

  1.  X44 18 Points
  2.  RXR 14 Points
  3. Acciona Sainz 14 Points
  4. ABT Cupra 10 Points
  5. JBXE 10 Points
  6. Veloce 10 Points
  7. Andretti United 6 Points
  8. Xite Energy 4 Points
  9. Chip Ganassi 4 Points

With the teams receiving championship points based on their overall qualifying classification, X44 closed the gap to RXR by a point. JBXE also leap-frogged Andretti United into 3rd place.

Championship Standings:

  1. RXR 140 Points
  2. X44 125 Points
  3. JBXE 100 Points
  4. Andretti United 99 Points 
  5. ABT Cupra 92 Points
  6. Acciona Sainz 88 Points
  7. Veloce 67 Points
  8. Chip Ganassi 67 Points
  9. Xite Energy 60 Points

Going into the semi finals tomorrow, X44 will face off against JBXE and Veloce, whilst RXR will race Acciona Sainz and ABT Cupra for a place in the final. Andretti United, Xite Energy, and Chip Ganassi will compete for the last spot in the final in the crazy race. Tomorrow is very finely poised.

Image courtesy of ExtremeE

The final dance.

Here we are: the final round of the 2021 season. And what a season it’s been, ending as always with the Valencia Grand Prix.

Qualifying:

Jorge Martin (Ducati) got a surprise pole with 1:29.936 from Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) in second, who crashed directly after taking pole just before Martin stole it from him. Jack Miller (Ducati) also finished off the front-row getting third place. Valentino Rossi who finished his last qualifying session before retirement secured tenth place.

Race:

Both the Repsol Honda riders were not to participate in the race as Marc Marquez was still suffering from his last crash and Pol Espargaro took a heavy fall during the qualifying on Saturday – an unfortunate end of the season for Honda.

However, it was a weekend for only one man. A sea of yellow filled the grandstands as audiences flocked to see Valentino Rossi for one last time. With only the hope of finishing in the top 10, would he be able to make it?

Martin got off to a flying start and led from Miller and Bagnaia, however Joan Mir (Suzuki) had other ideas and soon took 3rd from Bagnaia, pushing him back to 4th, leaving him sandwiched between the two Suzuki’s.

Lap 2 saw Miller pass Martin for 1st place but Martin was in a fighting mood and took it straight back again, seeing his chance Mir also passed Miller to take 2nd. Pecco didn’t want to miss out on a podium place and was side-by-side with Jack on the straight – beginning of lap 3 and managed to take the position from him. Next was Rins’ turn to battle Miller, coming out on top for 4th and also claiming fastest lap.

While one Ducati rider was getting beaten up, the other soon took 2nd place from Mir, knowing he had to hunt down Martin, for any hope of a victory. But while on a high, Rins also passed his team-mate on lap 4 of 27.

Could things get any worse for Miller? Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) was next to pounce, taking 5th place from him. But, the Ducati was unbeatable on the straight and soon took the place back. Fabio chose another place to again pass Jack later on the same lap.

Lap 5, turn 6 saw Takaaki Nakagami take an early exit from his race.

Meanwhile at the front Bagnaia closed down on Martin and kept checking for the right place to pass but Martin proved a difficult one to get a good place to do so. The two Suzuki’s also looked like they were ready to fight the Ducati’s for 1st and 2nd.

Rookie of the Year. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) was where he wanted to be, in the top 10, in 10th place but Enea Bastianini (Ducati) passed him to take the spot. Could Rossi do anything about it?

Miller and Quartararo continued to have mini battles for 5th place while Bagnaia continued to watch Martin for any weaknesses. With 18 laps to go Bagnaia attempted a pass on Martin but it didn’t stick.

With all front riders on the same tyre set-up (hard Michelin tyres on the front and medium on the rear) it was an even battlefield.

Suddenly on lap 11, turn 6 one of the front riders crashed out of the race. Rins was in the gravel leaving the two Ducati’s to battle it out on their own in front and leaving his team-mate to take 3rd position, with only a 0.726 second gap between him and them.

The gap slowly decreased as Mir caught up to the Ducati’s, closing the gap down to 0.493 seconds. Was Mir in for a chance of winning?

13 laps till the chequered flag and Bagnaia attempted to take the lead again. This time he was successful and took the lead over the finish line to mark the half-way point in the race. Mir and Miller still followed closely behind.

Taking the lead. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

But Bagnaia was soon pulling away from the rest of the field and the gap quickly got to 0.320 seconds. Was Martin starting to feel the results of being ill the night before? Martin had a nice position in 2nd with 1.316 seconds ahead of Miller, who had managed to pass Mir for 3rd with 10 laps to go. The Australian didn’t want to stop there though and he picked up the pace to close down on Martin. With 8 laps until the end the gap had decreased further to 1.285 seconds. Miller had said previously that he saw no point in playing it safe in the last round and wanted to get onto the podium and he did just that. He took fastest lap on lap 21 and continued to bring the gap down further still.

With 3 laps to go Miller had clawed the gap down to 0.317 seconds, was he able to pass for 2nd?

Last lap and last dance of 2021 saw Bagnaia leading with a gap increase of 0.914 seconds over the other two Dukes. But there was nothing the two riders could have done to change the results and Bagnaia won from Martin and Miller, who took the last podium place. The same three riders that had dominated qualifying also dominated the race.

Bagnaia took his fourth win in a row and Martin secured Rookie of the Year.

But the weekend was all about one man – the GOAT – Valentino Rossi. Yellow flags waved vigorously as he crossed the line in 10th place and all the riders stopped at the edge of the track and waited for him to come to them. Each one cheering, clapping and receiving a personal hug from the man that transcended the sport and made it what it is today. A very fitting farewell to an absolute legend who marked the end of an era.

Everyone wanted to say Thank You! Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

But we also said farewell to another Italian rider – Danilo Petrucci who also left Moto GP and will be competing in the Dakar for KTM. He will also be sadly missed.

Top Ten Race Results:

1st

F. Bagnaia

2nd

J. Martin

3rd

J. Miller

4th

J. Mir

5th

F. Quartararo

6th

J. Zarco

7th

B. Binder

8th

E. Bastianini

9th

A. Espargaro

10th

V. Rossi

Bagnaia wished to dedicate his race win to his Hero Valentino and I would like to say it has been a privilege and a joy to watch the career of the Titan of Moto GP, all the way from those 125cc days to Moto GP.

On behalf of everyone who has been a fan – old or new – we THANK YOU!

Taking his final bow. Courtesy of: Moto GP BT Sport Twitter page.

#GrazieVale

The 2021 season may be over but it will all start again in March 2022. Will a new victor emerge? Can Quartararo secure his crown? Will we see old riders come back to the fray? Whatever happens we will be there.

 

 

(Featured image: courtesy of: Moto GP Twitter page).

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