Extreme E: Qualifying Report

image courtesy of ExtremeE

X44 topped an incredible day’s qualifying yet again as the Arctic XPrix weekend gets into full swing.

It was the new girl, Emma Gilmour, who kicked off qualifying in Q1 for the Veloce team. Coming in for the occupied Jamie Chadwick, Emma set a strong pace for teammate Stephane Sarrazin to build upon. Stephane had an uneventful run and, after a 10 second penalty was awarded for Emma knocking over a flag, Veloce Racing set a benchmark time of 14:19.436.

JBXE’s Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky was next out on track and was going strong until the suspension broke as she went over the rocks. Their Q1 session ended without Kevin Hansen getting in the car.

Xite Energy Racing and ABT Cupra followed as both teams had incident free runs to go 3rd and 1st respectively, with ABT Cupra posting a superb time of 13:48.947, some 30.48 seconds quicker than Veloce’s initial time.

With ABT Cupra the new benchmark it was the turn of championship leaders Rosberg X Racing to take to the track. Johan Kristoffersson was the first of their two drivers to tackle the track and was several seconds up as he got to the halfway point of the lap. At that point disaster struck. As Johan went over a bump, the motor suddenly cut out. It took a few crucial seconds to reboot the car, and, as the car cut out twice more, they were left over a minute down when Molly Taylor took over. Yet more bad news for the RXR team as, just a short way into the lap, Molly rolled the car, sustaining huge bodywork damage in the process. Somehow, she was able to continue and brought the car home 1:40.69 seconds down on ABT Cupra’s time.

Sara Price got Chip Ganassi’s qualifying off to a flyer, handling the track superbly to give the team a lead coming in to the changeover. Last event’s super sector dominator, Kyle Leduc, came into the car and stormed the track to give the team a lead in this weekend’s super sector and provisionally fastest qualifier. However, at some point in the lap, Leduc hit a flagpole and was given a 10 second time penalty. This put them just behind ABT Cupra in the standings.

X44 were fastest qualifiers in both the previous rounds coming in to this weekend and they made a strong case to do so again. Both drivers had clean yet fast runs and they went quickest by about 3 seconds, with a time of 13:45.235.

Andretti United and Acciona Sainz finished off the first qualifying session in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland as both teams looked to set themselves up nicely for the races tomorrow. Acciona Sainz had a careful run and went 6th quickest, some 55.64 seconds off the pace. Unfortunately for Andretti United, the car shut off as Timmy Hansen came into the braking zone for the change over, losing him a minute of time. Catie Munnings was only able to claw back a bit of the deficit as the American outfit finished Q1 in 7th position.

Classification standings and points following Q1:

  1. X44 13:45.235 9 points
  2. ABT Cupra +3.71 8 points
  3. Chip Ganassi +6.39 7 points
  4. Veloce +34.20 6 points
  5. Xite Energy +51.74 5 points
  6. Acciona Sainz +55.64 4 points
  7. Andretti United +1:29.95 3 points
  8. RXR +1:44.40 2 points
  9. JBXE DNF 1 point

Stephane Sarrazin kicked off Q2 for Veloce but problems started almost immediately for the Frenchman. By the time he had reached the first turn, the power steering had broken. He tried to reset the system but was unable to fix it and the team were only able to set a benchmark time of 16:51.810

Kevin Hansen then did his first and only lap of the whole of qualifying for the JBXE team. He was initially very quick but more issues struck as the car shut down coming in to the braking zone for the switch over, just as it did for his brother Timmy. Once they’d got the car going again, Mikaela jumped in and had a solid lap that saw the team go fastest so far with a 14:42.102.

Problems seemed to be the theme of the day as the next three teams all failed to complete their Q2 runs. Xite Energy’s Oliver Bennet suffered techincal issues, meaning he was unable to complete a lap. ABT Cupra’s Ekstrom made it a little further but came in to the switch zone with both rear tires punctured. The team were unable to change them and Jutta Kleinschmidt did not finish the run. Chip Ganassi’s Kyle Leduc didn’t even make the halfway stage as the rear left suspension broke going over a jump.

Next it was the turn of the Q1 quickest, X44. Loeb set the pace early, handing over to teammate Gutierrez with a 10 second advantage over JBXE. Christina had a steady run and brought the car home to provisionally top the session with a time of 14:37.598.

The rest of the qualifying session was uneventful as Andretti United, Acciona Sainz, and RXR all had solid runs to round off qualifying 3rd, 5th and 1st respectively.

Classification standings and points for Q2:

  1. RXR 14:26.647 9 points
  2. X44 +10.951 8 points
  3. Andretti United +14.917 7 points
  4. JBXE +15.455 6 points
  5. Acciona Sainz +30.377 5 points
  6. Veloce +1:56.163 4 points
  7. ABT Cupra DNF 3 points
  8. Xite Energy DNF 2 points
  9. Chip Ganassi DNF 1 point

For the final qualifying classification the points from both qualifying sessions were added up, with ties  being settled by who had the fastest super sector times. X44 topped the classification, going on to compete against Veloce and Acciona Sainz  in Semi Final 1. ABT Cupra, RXR, and Andretti United will compete in Semi Final 2. The first 2 finishers in each semi final will progress to the final. The last spot in the final will be contested between Chip Ganassi, JBXE, and Xite Energy.

Final Qualifying Classification:

  1. X44 17 points
  2. ABT Cupra 11 points
  3. RXR 11 points
  4. Andretti United 10 points
  5. Veloce 10 points
  6. Acciona Sainz 9 points
  7. Chip Ganassi 8 points
  8. JBXE 7 points
  9. Xite Energy 7 points

RXR’s lead at the top of the championship has weakened slightly following qualifying as X44 close to just 12 points away. Points that count in the championship are awarded by the position in qualifying, with the fastest, X44, receiving 12 points, and the slowest, Xite Energy, receiving just 4.

Here’s how the championship looks heading in to the races tomorrow:

  1. RXR 81 points
  2. X44 69 points
  3. JBXE 49 points
  4. Andretti United 46 points
  5. ABT Cupra 46 points
  6. Acciona Sainz 43 points
  7. Xite Energy 41 points
  8. Veloce 39 points
  9. Chip Ganassi 36 points

With qualifying completed, we’re finely poised for an exciting day of racing tomorrow!

Extreme E: Arctic XPrix Preview

image courtesy of ExtremeE

Taking place in the picturesque landscape of Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, Extreme E returns this weekend with its first ever Arctic XPrix.

Greenland is set to host its first ever motorsport event in just a few days time as the teams and drivers prepare to take on the ice and snow. Kangerlussuaq, where the race is being held, is home to the now greatly diminished Russell Glacier, the remnants of which will provide a good site to host the eight kilometre circuit. Drivers will have to negotiate tricky technical sections around rocks, as well as more open sections, all whilst coping with an icy surface. The Arctic XPrix circuit will host a challenge never seen before in Extreme E

Something else that’s never been seen before in Extreme E is the five car final, which is one of a number of changes to the weekend format. Learning from the last two events, qualifying has had a shakeup, with each of the two sessions awarding classification points, rather than providing a combined time. Now, the fastest team in each session will be awarded nine points, with other teams being awarded eight to one each session respectively.  The overall qualifying positions will be set by the highest to lowest number of points, giving teams who DNF in one of their runs more of a chance. Should any teams be on equal points, they will be ordered by their fastest super sector times.  It is important to note that these classification points do not count towards the championship.

Once the qualifying classification has been established, the teams will take part in one of three races. The teams that qualify in first, fifth, or sixth will race in Semi Final One, with the top two progressing to the final. The second, third, and fourth qualifiers will race in Semi Final Two. The top two finishers in this race will also progress to the final. The bottom three qualifiers will all face off in the Crazy Race, where only the winner will complete the grid for the final.

The championship points system remains unchanged for this weekend, as points are awarded for both qualifying and the race. Twelve points will still be awarded to the top qualifier and the rest of the points will be evenly distributed down to four points for the ninth qualifier. Points will also be awarded for the final race classification, with the winner receiving twenty five points, down to the bottom finisher receiving four. Five points will still be awarded to the team with the fastest super sector time of the weekend.

Coming in to the weekend, Rosberg X Racing hold a fourteen point lead over X44 with a total of seventy one points. JBXE are a further thirteen points back, with just seven points separating the remaining six teams.

The Arctic XPrix will also see a couple of changes to the driver line ups. Jutta Kleinschmidt, who raced for ABT Cupra in Senegal in place of an ill Claudia Hurtgen, will make her debut as a full time driver for the team, replacing Claudia, who wanted to put more focus on her other driving roles. Senegal also saw Kevin Hansen replace Jenson Button at JBXE as the Formula One champion looked to prioritise his role as team principle. Kevin will continue to partner Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky at the Arctic XPrix. Veloce reserve driver Emma Gilmour will come in to the team in place of Jamie Chadwick, who is racing in W Series at Spa this weekend.

Every Extreme E event aims to both highlight an environmental issue, and leave a positive impact on the communities they visit. This weekend, the series will discuss melting ice sheets and rising sea levels. The legacy program consists of several seminars and teaching resources, which hopes to transform climate education in Greenland. It is believed around three thousand six hundred Greenlandic children will take part in Climate Week in September, as they learn about the issues surrounding climate change and how they can address them. Extreme E have partnered with UNICEF to make this happen.

The one of world’s cleanest racing series, racing in one of the world’s most beautiful locations. You’d be a fool to miss it!

X44 Top Thrilling Qualifying

image courtesy of ExtremeE -Andrew Ferraro

Reigning Formula One World Champion, Lewis Hamilton’s team, X44 ended an enthralling Qualifying Saturday on top of the time sheets, showing strong pace going into tomorrow’s semi final.

Qualifying 1:

Following little running in the first round, Veloce’s Jamie Chadwick started off qualifying for the second round of the inaugural season of Extreme E. After steady laps from her and her teammate Stephane Sarrazin, the team set a benchmark time of 11:37.599.

Image courtesy of ExtremeE – Sam Bloxham

Acciona Sainz got off to a strong start in their run, but the car unfortunately ground to a halt part way round Laia Sanz’s lap and they were unable to finish. Andretti United’s car also came to a stop but, after a lengthy delay, they were able to get moving again, finishing with a time of 14:39.659.

Image courtesy of ExtremeESam Bloxham

Next was the turn of championship leaders and Desert X Prix race winners Rosberg X Racing. Some of the pace from the last round appeared to be missing though as, despite being on provisional pole, they set a beatable time of 11:02.310.

Abt Cupra followed RXR and their drivers put in a strong performance. Jutta Kleinschmidt, who was standing in for the ill Claudia Hurtgen, was particularly impressive, as the 58 year old rounded off their run to put them top of the table with a 10:58.122. Unfortunately for them though, during the changeover, Jutta entered the switch zone before the car had been put into neutral, and the team promptly received a 15 second time penalty.

Then came Lewis Hamilton’s X44, whose drivers put in a superb perormance which saw them leap to provisional pole with a 10:47.289. American racing team Chip Ganassi also had a strong showing with Leduc putting in a phenomenal performance. They ended Q1 just 4 seconds down on X44, with a time of 10:51.528.

JBXE and Xite Energy then rounded off an intriguing first qualifying session with times of 11:13.405, and 11:52.806 respectively.

The standings after Q1:

  1. X44 10:47.289
  2. Chip Ganassi +4.239
  3. RXR +15.021
  4. Abt Cupra +25.833
  5. JBXE +26.116
  6. Veloce +50.310
  7. Xite Energy +1:05.517
  8. Andretti United +3:52.376
  9. Acciona Sainz DNF

Qualifying 2:

Going into Q2 the teams switched around their starting driver, which meant Stephane Sarrazin kicked off the final qualifying session of the Ocean X Prix for Veloce. The team had a relatively uneventful run and saw them post a combined time of 23:05.370.

Andretti United went into this session attempting to claw back as much of their lost time as possible. Unfortunately for the american outfit, they were unable to do so and were left with a 25:57.068. Their only chance of progressing to the semi finals would come from other teams running into problems.

Rosberg X Racing’s Molly Taylor got some serious air time in her final lap but some excellent car control prevented her from spinning out. They achieved a combined time of 22:12.438, putting them in a temporary pole position. Abt Cupra almost dislodged them straight away but ended up just 8 seconds behind with a 22:20.813.

X44 were the early pace setters in Q1, and another flying run from both of their drivers saw them jump up to the top of the time sheets with a 21:44.856. Close competitors Chip Ganassi got off to a tremendous start in their final qualifying run and were even a few seconds up on X44’s time. But then disaster struck. Just as Leduc entered the tree section, his car ground to a halt. After some desperate button pressing the car got going again, but it would be impossible to claw back the several minutes of time he had lost. Teammate Sara Price brought the car home, finishing with a 25:41.815.

With three teams having issues, remaining teams JBXE and Xite Energy just needed to have uneventful runs and see the cars home. Both teams did exactly that and finished with total times of 22:25.426 and 23:36.461 respectively.

Acciona Sainz rounded off the session after just managing to fix the issues they had had in Q1. With them not setting a time in that session, all they could do in Q2 was attempt to set the fastest time through the super sector. Both drivers pushed hard but ultimately neither were able to claim it from Chip Ganassi’s Kyle Leduc.

The final qualifying positions:

  1. X44 21:44.856
  2. RXR +27.580
  3. Abt Cupra +35.950
  4. JBXE +40.570
  5. Veloce +1:20.510
  6. Xite Energy +1:51.600
  7. Chip Ganassi +3:56.960
  8. Andretti United +4:12.210
  9. Acciona Sainz +1 Lap

Following an exciting Saturday the gap at the top of the team standings has closed slightly with RXR just 4 points ahead of X44. The current standings:

  1. RXR 46 Points
  2. X44 42 Points  
  3. Andretti 33 Points
  4. Sainz 30 Points 
  5. Xite 27 Points
  6. JBXE 26 Points 
  7. Abt Cupra 23 Points 
  8. Chip Ganassi 17 Points  
  9. Veloce 12 Points

All eyes now turn to Sunday where we will see the teams face off to determine the final finishing positions. In Semi Final 1, the first two finishers of X44, RXR, and Abt Cupra will progress to the final, where they will be joined by the top two finishers of Semi Final 2 (which consists of JBXE, Veloce, and Xite Energy). The shoot-out will be contested by Chip Ganassi, Andretti United, and Acciona Sainz as they vie for positions seven to nine.

It’s certain to be an exciting final day as the nine teams battle it out to be crowned rulers of the Ocean X Prix.

Extreme E: Ocean X Prix Preview

After a long wait, the inaugural season of Extreme E resumes with the Ocean X Prix; aiming to highlight issues relating to ocean health.

Lac Rose Circuit

Picture courtesy of Extreme E

Following its successful debut in AlUla, Saudi Arabia, the exciting, new, electric rally series heads to the home of off-road racing, with the teams set to take on sections of the world renowned Dakar Rally. Based around Lac Rose, Dakar, the teams and drivers will race along the Senegalese coastline before turning onto a more technical section in among the sand dunes. Along the way the racers will have to contend with surface changes as well as lots of elevation changes. This is sure to be a true test of the drivers skills.

Format Changes

Coming into this weekend there are a couple of format changes to be aware of. Qualifying will continue to take place over two sessions, with the times being added up to give a team’s final qualifying time. The quickest three teams will then face off in the first of two semi finals, with the top two finishers of that race advancing to the final. The fourth to sixth fastest qualifiers will also race against each other in the second of the two semi finals, but with the top two finishers also now advancing to the final. This means we will now see a four car final, as opposed to the three car final we witnessed in AlUla. The slowest three qualifiers will still compete for positions seventh to ninth in the shoot-out.

The Ocean X Prix also sees the introduction of the super sector. An extra five points is now available to the team whose driver is the quickest through a specific section of the track. This means that everyone still has a chance of gaining points for their respective teams, regardless of where they qualify.

Dakar, Senegal Circuit Map
Picture Courtesy of Extreme E

Championship Battle:

Just nine points separate the top four teams in the championship standings with the title fight beginning to heat up. After a dominant win in AlUla, Rosberg X Racing head the table with thirty five points, closely followed by X44, Andretti United, and Acciona Sainz with thirty, twenty eight, and twenty six points respectively. Veloce foot the table with just four points following a crash in shakedown that saw them miss most of the rest of the weekend.

Driver Line-up Alterations:

2009 Formula One World Champion and JBXE team owner Jenson Button has stepped aside from his racing duties this weekend in order to focus on his team management role. Stepping in to replace him is Kevin Hansen, rally cross driver and brother of Andretti United driver, Timmy Hansen. Kevin is no stranger to Extreme E, helping to develop and test the Odyssey 21 in its early stages of development. He is also a good friend of teammate Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, with the pair having raced together in local rally championships when they were younger.

With a revised format, a title battle on a knife edge, and racing around the famous Dakar Rally, you’d be crazy to miss this weekend’s Extreme E action.