Extreme E: Acciona Sainz wins chaotic Saturday race at Island X Prix II in Sardinia
Laia Sanz and Mattias Ekström secured victory on Saturday at the second Iceland X Prix of 2023. After two first places in both qualifying heats, the Acciona Sainz team also drove to victory in the final without any danger, while behind them events spilled over. The big loser of the day was McLaren, where Tamara Molinaro rolled over in the starting phase of the Redemption Race.
Since this year, qualifying in Extreme E takes place in two sections, with two heat races in each. Lining up on the start line for the first heat were teams Chip Ganassi Racing, JBXE, McLaren, Acciona Sainz and Carl Cox Motorsport. For McLaren, Championship driver Tamara Molinaro replaced regular driver Emma Gilmour.
The New Zealander crashed badly in Free Practice 1 on Friday morning, rolling over five times. The team announced afterwards that Gilmour had suffered a fractured rib in the accident and would have to stay in hospital for at least 24 hours. Because the damaged chassis had to be replaced, the team was forced to serve a 30-second time penalty during the driver switch in Qualifying 1.
Molinaro stopped at the start and lost several seconds to the other drivers. Timo Scheider took the lead ahead of Mattias Ekström and RJ Anderson. Ekström overtook Scheider with a daring manoeuvre by driving into the German's rear, but Scheider pushed right back past at the exit of the following corner. Anderson remained within striking distance of the leading duo, behind them the gap to JBXE driver Hedda Hosas was already more than seven seconds. Molinaro was another ten seconds back.
Scheider and Ekström drove side by side into the switch zone. Sainz's driver change was one second quicker, so Laia Sanz left the switch zone in the lead. Meanwhile, race control announced that the contact between Ekström and Scheider was under investigation. The field at the front moved closer together and Andreas Bakkerud also managed to catch up with the leading three drivers. However, there were no more position changes, Sanz won the heat ahead of Lia Block and Amanda Sorenson. Race control announced that they would not impose a penalty for the collision, so the result stood.
Result: 1st Sainz, 2nd Carl Cox, 3rd CGR, 4th JBXE, 5th McLaren
The best start of the second heat, in which all teams fielded the male driver first, was made by Johan Kristoffersson, who was hit by Timmy Hansen at the first corner. Hansen went through the corner on two wheels and was lucky to avoid a rollover, but he hit a rock and suffered a puncture on the left rear. Fraser McConnell took advantage of the situation and moved into the lead.
Sebastien Loeb lost significant ground in the second sector when his windscreen wiper stopped working while passing one of the two man-made water hazards, but continued the race at normal pace shortly afterwards. Timmy Hansen lost more than 30 seconds to the leaders in his damaged race car already on the first lap. Kristoffersson put pressure on McConnell at the front and collided with the rear of the X44 car, losing the rear fairing.
With a 0.7-second lead, McConnell drove into the switch zone, followed another 1.5 seconds later by Kevin Hansen. Loeb was a further five seconds back, while Andretti was now more than a full minute behind and had to retire from the race with a broken rear suspension. The places initially remained unchanged at the driver change. Cristina Gutierrez stopped a few metres behind the switch zone on the race track, and was unable to get the car running again. X44 was out of the race. Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky thus took the lead ahead of Molly Taylor.
The stewards called a slow zone at the spot where Gutierrez stopped. This was lifted shortly afterwards, even before the leaders got there. Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Taylor slowed down anyway, so that Klara Andersson passed both of them. Taylor then realised her mistake and accelerated again, overtaking Ahlin-Kottulinsky as well. Andersson, however, had built up a significant lead and won the race for ABT ahead of Taylor and Ahlin-Kottulinsky.
Result: 1st ABT, 2nd Veloce, 3rd RXR, 4th X44, 5th Andretti
The first heat of the final qualifying session was contested by CGR, McLaren, Sainz, Veloce and X44. Laia Sanz got the best start and took the lead ahead of Cristina Gutierrez and Molly Taylor. Tanner Foust in the McLaren started in last place but overtook Sorenson and Taylor on the first lap. He then put Gutierrez under pressure, but she managed to stay ahead of the American. Sanz went into the switch zone with a three-second lead over Gutierrez, with Foust and Taylor following two seconds behind each.
During the driver change, word came from race control that Gutierrez had dropped the flag at a waypoint and X44 would therefore receive a 10-second time penalty. After the driver change, Molinaro suddenly slowed down and lost a lot of ground. Ekström maintained his lead ahead of McConnell and Kevin Hansen. At the end of the field, Anderson had now caught up with Molinaro and attacked the McLaren driver. However, the gap to the front was already around 20 seconds. Anderson pushed past Molinaro with a hard manoeuvre and the cars touched. Molinaro subsequently retired with a broken steering.
Ekström secured the win ahead of McConnell and Kevin Hansen. However, the time penalty dropped X44 behind Veloce.
Result: 1st Sainz, 2nd Veloce, 3rd X44, 4th CGR 5th McLaren
After the accident in Heat 1, Andretti had to skip the race, leaving only four cars on the grid. JBXE driver Andreas Bakkerud came off the start line best. The Norwegian led ahead of Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, Lia Block and Klara Andersson. Block spun on the first lap after a driving mistake, Andersson went past.
After one lap Bakkerud and Ahlin-Kottulinsky were already more than ten seconds ahead when Bakkerud suddenly slowed down, parked the car at the side of the track and got out. Ahlin-Kottulinsky thus entered the switch zone with a comfortable lead of more than twelve seconds over Andersson, with Block following about five seconds later.
Kristoffersson secured the win after the driver change without any danger. Loeb managed to keep Scheider at bay and secures second place. A 10-second time penalty for Carl Cox Motorsport for driving around a waypoint flag by Lia Block had no effect.
Result: 1st RXR, 2nd ABT, 3rd Carl Cox, 4th JBXE
Qualifying result at the Island X Prix II
|Pos.||Team||Points Q1||Points Q2||Total points|
The "losers" of qualifying battled it out in the Redemption Race for the first championship points: X44, CGR, JBXE, McLaren and Andretti. Andretti had repaired the Odyssey 21 in time for the Redemption Race, so all five cars were back on the grid. McConnell took the lead but spun out of the first corner and dropped back, shortly after which he had to park the car on the side of the track. Molinaro also spun after contact with Hosas and rolled over, and race control declared the area immediately after the finish line a slow zone. RJ Anderson took the lead ahead of Hedda Hosas and Timmy Hansen. However, the US American lost the lead shortly before the finish line when he already slowed down because of the slow zone. Hansen and Hosas only reduced the pace later on and pushed past CGR.
Hansen subsequently pulled away from Hosas, who had to fend off attacks from Anderson. He finally passed just before entering the switch zone. Hansen handed over the wheel to Catie Munnings with seven seconds to spare. Bakkerud reduced the gap to Sorenson after the driver change and passed her. However, nothing more happened at the front, Munnings drove home the unchallenged race win and incidentally concentrated on setting the fastest time in the Continental Traction Section with the help of the "Hyperdrive".
Result: Andretti, JBXE, CGR, X44, McLaren
The top five teams from qualifying qualified for the final. "Grid Play" voting decided which teams got to choose their grid position first. RXR and Carl Cox took up the X Prix on the outside lanes, while ABT opted for a start from the middle lane.
For all five teams, the male driver contested the start. Scheider took the lead in the first corner, but Ekström, coming from the outside, pushed past in the second corner. Kevin Hansen was in third place ahead of Johan Kristoffersson, who was the only driver not to use his "Hyperdrive" at the start. Loeb was in last place. Kevin Hansen pushed past Scheider with a drive over an alternative line, while Kristoffersson had to park the car with a technical problem. He managed to restart the car after about a minute and continued at a slow pace.
Mattias Ekström went into the switch zone five seconds ahead of Hansen, with Scheider and Loeb following two seconds behind each. At the driver change, Lia Block slipped past Molly Taylor, who was missing one of the two windscreen wiper blades. With severe visibility problems, she then lost ground and struggled to keep Klara Andersson behind her.
The ABT driver eventually overtook Taylor, resulting in contact between the cars. The rear suspension on the ABT car broke, but Andersson still finished the race. Shortly afterwards, Lia Block had a moment of shock: the young American lost what she thought was a safe 2nd place and had to park the car with a broken front suspension. At the top, Laia Sanz drove to victory without any danger, Andersson came in second ahead of Taylor. Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky finished the race and secured fourth place for RXR ahead of Carl Cox Motorsport.
YOUR R.07 WINNERS ?- Extreme E (@ExtremeELive) September 16, 2023
Mattias Ekstrom and @LaiaSanz_ take the win!
? @Veloce_Racing #ExtremeE #RaceForThePlanet #IslandXPrix #ACISport #Sardegna pic.twitter.com/9r5ncnd9oe
Result: Sainz, ABT, Veloce, RXR, Carl Cox
With the win, Acciona Sainz extended the lead in the overall standings, while Rosberg X Racing remained the Spaniard's first chaser, 18 points behind, despite finishing fourth. Behind them are Veloce Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing and Andretti. The next opportunity for the teams to score points comes on Sunday, when the fourth race of the 2023 Island X Prix will take place.
However, McLaren will not be participating then: The team announced on Saturday evening that it would not be able to repair the Odyssey 21, which was damaged in the Redemption Race, for the next day. This means that only nine teams will be on the grid.