The very first Extreme E event in the Saudi Arabian deserts of AlUla just six weeks ago saw Rosberg X Racing (RXR) take both the race victory and the lead in the overall standings, to currently sit pretty at the top of the table on 35 points.
Although Lewis Hamilton’s X44 crossed the finish line in third, they currently occupy second in the overall table on 30 points after amassing more points in qualifying than Andretti United, who eventually finished second in the Final and are now in third place with 28 points.
With just seven points separating them, the trio of table-toppers is now in the final stages of preparations for the upcoming Ocean X Prix at Lac Rose, Dakar, Senegal, from May 29-30.
“To take victory in the first-ever Extreme E event was an amazing achievement,” Molly Taylor, half of RXR’s pairing, said. “Everyone in the team had worked so hard in the build-up to the event, so for me and Johan [Kristoffersson] to repay them all with the victory felt so special. The beauty of Extreme E is the extra buzz you get from racing for purpose, too, and it’s an even better feeling when you win for purpose.”
The team has spent the last few weeks analyzing the data taken from the dunes in Saudi Arabia with a view to preparing for the second X Prix in Senegal, where RXR will attempt to make another win.
“Senegal will be a brand new challenge for everyone, but that’s one of the greatest things about Extreme E: Every event is so unique,” said Taylor’s RXR teammate, Kristoffersson. “Despite the differences, we’ll do our best to improve on our performance in AlUla and aim to be competitive once again.”
Team founder and former Formula 1 champion Nico Rosberg was cautious about maintaining the lead in Senegal.
“The team did an incredible job in Saudi Arabia to get the win, and we’re very proud to be the first X Prix winners in Extreme E history, but we know we need to stay focused if we are to remain at the front,” he said. “The series is already so competitive, but this team loves a challenge, and we can’t wait to go racing again in Senegal.”
X44 driver pairing Cristina Gutiérrez and Sébastien Loeb also had a successful weekend in Saudi Arabia, topping the qualifying standings and heading straight through to Semi-Final 1, and with a second-place finish, progressing to the Final. The team is now aiming for victory in Senegal.
“I’m looking forward to racing again in Senegal with Cristina. In the last race, obviously, there were things that didn’t go our way, but we showed that we’re a very competitive team and that we’re able to get results under pressure,” said Loeb. “The Ocean X Prix will be a totally new terrain and we have an incredible group of people working with us, so I’m excited to go to Senegal and fight again for a win.”
The team has been particularly focused on the all-important start, which proved vital for the final race position at the Desert X Prix. Senegal, however, poses a very different challenge.
“I’m really excited to get back in the car and race again in Senegal. Obviously, the final race in Saudi didn’t go exactly as planned but we got a great result overall, and it put us in a good position in the championship,” Gutiérrez said. “We learned a lot from the last race, and we’re going to take those learnings and make sure that we’re as competitive as possible.”
Meanwhile, Andretti United’s Catie Munnings proved herself to be one to watch following her epic three-wheel drive after suffering a puncture. Her strength and determination saw her bring the car home in one piece.
“Saudi Arabia certainly wasn’t plain sailing for us, especially with the puncture, but Timmy [Hansen] and I learned so much and to finish second in the final after a tricky start to the event was just awesome. Now we go into Senegal third in the standings, which is a really strong position to be in. We definitely feel well-prepared and ready to apply what we learned from Saudi at the Ocean X Prix — and hopefully score another podium!”
Ahead of Senegal, Hansen has been busy keeping physically fit through lots of running, even finishing the virtual Wings for Life Run to raise money for spinal cord research. He has completed some off-road training in the Polaris, supported Munnings in her RallyX Nordic debut in Höljes and also taken some important time off to celebrate his son Sam’s third birthday.
“I’ve had a productive few weeks, continuing with my training, fulfilling some sponsor obligations and also spending a bit of time with my family. It feels good to strike the right balance,” said Hansen. “It’s been great having Catie over in Sweden again too. We’ve done a full debrief from Saudi and know the areas where we can improve. We’re both feeling confident going into Senegal with a refreshed state of mind.”
The Ocean X Prix starts on May 29, and as the all-electric SUVs have been at sea traveling the globe on the series’ floating centerpiece, the St. Helena, teams will not be able to start preparations with the cars themselves until they touch down in Senegal.