X44 throws the glove during Ocean X-Prix qualifying
Extreme E contenders have gathered in Dakar, Senegal for this weekend’s Ocean X Prix, the second round of the all-electric off-road series. As was the case at the Desert X Prix in early April, it was Lewis Hamilton’s X44 team that dominated qualifying at the end of Saturday’s qualifying with a resounding declaration of intent to the rest of the paddock.
The second stop in the pioneering electric SUV off-road racing series has hit the beach for the second stop on its 2021 calendar. The 6.1 km / 3.8 mile Ocean X Prix course features a bumpy and fluid section of “Bumps”, a wooded area with one lane and a spectacular start and finish straight along the beach. The course was hailed by the drivers as more technical and closer to their initial vision of the Extreme E, while a new “Super Sector” awards five points to the driver who sets the best time in the intermediate section of the lap this year. weekend.
The X44 team were the fastest from the start, with Sébastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez at a breakneck pace in their first round of the day. This was quickly followed by another great outing in Q2 to dominate the overall standings.
“Today’s qualifying was obviously very good for us, I’m happy with my time and of course Cristina’s driving was amazing,” said Loeb. “The track for me was a lot more interesting than Saudi Arabia and I had a lot of confidence in the car, which allowed me to go full speed all the time. Tomorrow it’s going to be a whole different way of racing, and we’ll be up against strong teams, so it’s hard to say what’s going to happen, but I know we have the speed to win, so I feel good.
Gutierrez added: “I am very happy with today’s result and our performance as a team. We entered the weekend in a good position so I was confident we could do well, but of course to finish first in qualifying is better than I could have hoped for! The type of track for me was a lot harder than the Desert X Prix, and the sand changed a lot between the two qualifying laps so it was a challenge, but I managed to have a good time and Seb was amazing. We don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow but I feel confident and can’t wait to get back in the car.
The only couple who seemed to threaten the X44 car’s seemingly insurmountable position were Segi TV Chip Ganassi Racing drivers of Kyle LeDuc and Sara Price, but the American duo were ultimately denied a chance at first place when LeDuc broke through. stopped on track with technical gremlins. . Fortunately, the 39-year-old managed to reset his ODYSSEY 21 and get back on the road, but to no avail. They finished qualifying in seventh position and will once again fail to advance to the final.
Desert X Prix winners Rosberg X Racing kept X44 honest, but at the end of the day they were 27 seconds off the top of the standings. They would have gone even faster if it hadn’t been for a hard landing on one of the jumps, causing Molly Taylor to deviate from her run in Q2, the Australian put it together brilliantly and didn’t lose only a handful of seconds in the process.
The updated ABT CUPRA XE line-up of Mattias Ekstrom and Jutta Kleinschmidt was also in the mix throughout qualifying, with the pair looking to challenge the former before receiving a 15-second penalty. Despite being one of the official Extreme E championship drivers, Kleinschmidt was still acclimating to the nuances of the series, entering the switching zone before the ODYSSEY 21 went neutral, depriving the team of any chance of disturbing the X44 team.
Kevin Hansen’s first competitive laps at the wheel of the JBXE car confirmed why the World RX driver was drafted, finishing fourth overall alongside teammate Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky.
After eight weeks of waiting, Veloce Racing finally got their first official lap times on the board. Jamie Chadwick was visibly elated at the end of her first run, smiling ear to ear as she rounded the final corner. Alongside teammate Stéphane Sarrazin, the duo achieved consistent lap times taking minimal risks in an effort to strengthen their pace throughout the weekend, improving by 10 seconds from Q1 to Q2.
XITE ENERGY RACING powered by team myenergi were delighted to place sixth overall after a noticeable improvement in the Desert X Prix for Oliver Bennett and Christine GZ, reserving the final semi-final for Sunday.
Each of the last three teams seemed ready to fight this weekend, but they were not, Segi TV Chip Ganassi Racing, Andretti United and ACCIONA | The Sainz XE team all suffered from mechanical issues putting them at the bottom of the table.
Timmy Hansen stopped on the track in his first qualifying round which meant it would be an uphill battle for himself and Catie Munnings to make the top six. The Swede managed to restart his ODYSSEY 21 but the three wasted minutes that followed were too long to overcome.
Carlos Sainz and Laia Sanz were another couple who were setting up purple sectors before their car came to a halt in the first quarter. This time, the issues could not be resolved and the resulting DNF terminated them at the Shoot-out.
The races begin tomorrow with Semi-Final 1, Semi-Final 2, Shoot-out and the all-important Final which will see four cars hit the track for the first time in Extreme E. The Ocean X-Prix will air on Fox Sports 1 in the United States.