SARDINIA: Rosberg X Racing made it three wins from four races by securing victory at the Enel X Island X Prix in Sardinia to build a commanding lead in the inaugural Extreme E championship season.
The race was the fourth in the first-ever electric SUV series, which launched in April with the Desert X Prix at AlUla. That was followed by the Ocean X Prix in Dakar, Senegal, at the end of May and the Arctic X Prix in Greenland in August. The fifth and final race will be the Jurassic X Prix in Dorset, the UK, in December.
RXR drivers Johan Kristoffersson and Molly Taylor kept their heads in difficult conditions to seal a dramatic victory in Sardinia — for the team established by former Formula 1 champion Nico Rosberg — ahead of ABT CUPRA XE, who secured their best result of the season in second.
“It was pretty slippery out there, so it was a bit difficult to judge at first,” Taylor said. “From that point it was just trying to manage the risk and I think that is what we did really well. Johan brought it home and again it was just an amazing effort by all of the team. We had a very challenging weekend from our side, but we never gave up and are very happy to be the winners here.”
There was heartbreak, however, for long-time leaders in the final SEGI TV Chip Ganassi Racing. Sara Price’s crash on the second lap caused terminal damage and meant she had to stop on the track, ensuring the team could only finish as high as fourth on their finals debut. That meant JBXE were able to secure their third podium finish in succession with third place despite also suffering damage out on the course.
Bad luck once again befell fastest qualifiers X44 in the final, as Sebastien Loeb was forced to stop out on track and retire with broken steering. Loeb was running in second behind SEGI TV’s Kyle LeDuc despite driving with a slow puncture at the time of the stoppage, which meant the team fell even further behind winners and championship leaders RXR in the standings.
“When I took over the car, we were in second place and were pretty isolated,” RXR’s Kristoffersson said. “We had Mattias (Ekstrom) behind, but I knew it was going to be tricky to do the overtake. Then I heard that Sara had suffered broken steering out in front so I tried to get the car back in one piece by not taking any big risks. I think in this final that Molly really did the best job and it feels great to bring it home.”
In treacherous conditions, four of the five teams were able to get off the start line cleanly, although ABT CUPRA XE were left with plenty of work to do after Jutta Kleinschmidt stalled on the grid. It looked like X44 had staged a remarkable comeback to lead into the first corner, but were beaten spectacularly by LeDuc, who managed to get in front after using the alternative route.
“I was so concentrated on the start to make it well and light and then I pushed the car and nothing happened. I said, ‘Oh shoot, what is going on,’” said Kleinschmidt. “Then I pushed it, but everybody was gone, so I had to try to come back, which worked very well. We so nearly made it ahead of RXR, but unfortunately then Mattias lost the door so he had to slow down to not let the water come in, because then maybe you have mud inside and then you don’t see anything anymore. Finally, though, we are on the podium so we are happy.”
1 Rosberg X Racing (Molly Taylor / Johan Kristoffersson) 2 laps (11.42)
2 ABT Cupra XE (Jutta Kleinschmidt / Mattias Ekstrom) +24.58s
3 JBXE (Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky / Kevin Hansen) +1 lap
4 SEGI TV Chip Ganassi Racing (Kyle LeDuc / Sara Price) +1 lap5
X44 (Sebastien Loeb / Cristina Gutierrez) +2 laps
1 Rosberg X Racing (Johan Kristoffersson / Molly Taylor) 129 points
2 X44 (Sebastien Loeb / Cristina Gutierrez) 113 points
3 Andretti United Extreme E (Timmy Hansen / Catie Munnings) 93 points
4 JBXE (Kevin Hansen / Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky) 92 points
5 ABT CUPRA XE (Mattias Ekstrom / Jutta Kleinschmidt) 83 points
6 ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team (Carlos Sainz Snr. / Laia Sanz) 78 points
7 SEGI TV Chip Ganassi Racing (Kyle Leduc / Sara Price) 63 points8
8 Veloce Racing (Stephane Sarrazin / Emma Gilmour) 60 points
9 XITE ENERGY RACING (Oliver Bennett / Christine Giampaoli Zonca) 55 points