RXR wins hectic Island X Prix Saturday race in Extreme E as Sainz takes overall lead
Rosberg X Racing has won the fifth race of the 2023 Extreme E season. In extreme heat conditions, Johan Kristoffersson and Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky prevailed over Acciona Sainz's duo Sanz/Ekström on the dusty Island X Prix circuit in Sardinia. The Spanish team took the overall lead from Veloce Racing thanks to a second-place finish in the final race of the day.
As usual this year, Extreme E's qualifying is being held in two parts, each with two heat races. At the starting line for the first heat, drivers from teams X44, JBXE, Rosberg X Racing, Carl Cox Motorsport and ABT Cupra lined up. Four of the five drivers activated their hyperdrive right at the start in order to accelerate as best as possible. Only Fraser McConnell (X44) refrained from using the boost, but as a result also dropped back to fourth. Johan Kristoffersson took the early lead for RXR, which he defended until the obligatory driver change.
After the switch, JBXE driver Hedda Hosas lost two positions: Carl Cox debutant Lia Block and X44 rider Cristina Gutierrez slipped through. The latter also struggled with the effects of a damaged door on her racecar that threatened to fall off as the race progressed. Gutierrez crossed the finish line behind Block and ahead of Hosas in fourth position, though she was demoted to fifth due to a waypoint flag being hit. Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinksy took the win for RXR. Klara Andersson secured a strong second place for ABT Cupra.
Result: 1st RXR, 2nd ABT, 3rd Carl Cox, 4th JBXE, 5th X44
The best start of the second heat was made by Andretti driver Timmy Hansen. In a "Swedish trio" with Mattias Ekström (Acciona Sainz) and his brother Kevin Hansen (Veloce), the 31-year-old pulled away from Tanner Foust (McLaren) and RJ Anderson (CGR). Over the course of the first two laps, Ekström looked faster than Hansen at times, but was unable to take the lead.
During the driver change, Veloce noticed a problem with their car: the left front tire had to be changed. The three-way battle for the top position thus turned into a two-way fight, which Catie Munnings, however, routinely decided in her favor. The Briton took a commanding heat win for Andretti, crossing the finish line nine seconds ahead of Laia Sanz (Acciona Sainz). Sorensen (CGR) and Taylor (Veloce) rounded out the top 4. McLaren, who also had to solve a technical problem at the "Switch," finished last with driver Emma Gilmour.
Result: 1st Andretti, 2nd Sainz, 3rd CGR, 4th Veloce, 5th McLaren
Sanz got the best start to the second qualifying section, with Ahlin-Kottulinsky sorting in behind. Their teammates also finished in that order at the end of an uneventful run a little later. Veloce, which had temporarily fallen behind X44 at the "Switch", posted a solid result with third place, but this was only enough for the racing team to earn a place in the Redemption Race. Carl Cox's team finished fifth and last after a driving error by Block in the first corner section.
Result: 1st Sainz, 2nd RXR, 3rd Veloce, 4th X44, 5th Carl Cox
At the start of Heat 2, all teams used their hyperdrive to accelerate off the start line. Amanda Sorensen caught the best launch of all, completing the first CGR lead lap of the weekend 2.2 kilometers later. After that, much like Heat 1, there was no more fighting for positions, with Sorensen's teammate Anderson crossing the finish line in first place. Second place went to Andretti, who beat ABT Cupra thanks to a faster pit stop. McLaren and JBXE missed out on qualifying for the final in fourth and fifth place respectively.
Results: 1st CGR, 2nd Andretti, 3rd ABT, 4th McLaren, 5th JBXE
Qualifying result at Island X Prix I
|Pos.||Tteam||Points Q1||Points Q2||Q Total Points|
The "losers" of qualifying battled it out in the Redemption Race for the first championship points of the weekend. Veloce driver Kevin Hansen got the best start, while Bakkerud (JBXE) dropped to the back of the field after contact in the opening meters and retired from the X Prix a short time later. Hansen finished his stint in first place, with McLaren - running with a damaged door and no rear bodywork after contact with rivals - and X44 swapping positions 3 and 4 just before the "pit lane" entrance.
McConnell had braked significantly late shortly before and lost control of his X44 car. In doing so, he missed the waypoint that marked the switch zone entry. After the driver swap, Gilmour put high pressure on Molly Taylor, who was now leading, but was unable to make it past until the finish. Veloce thus won the Redemption Race, with McLaren posting a solid second place. Block finished her strong debut race in third position for Carl Cox Motorsports, however, the team was demoted to fourth in the race standings due to two penalties.
Result: 1st Veloce, 2nd McLaren, 3rd X44, 4th Carl Cox, DNF: JBXE
The top five teams from qualifying qualified for the final, in which the "Grid Play" voting decided which teams got to choose their grid position first. On the outside lanes, Acciona Sainz and Andretti took up the X Prix, while ABT opted for a start from the middle. All drivers oriented themselves to the shortest, middle path into the first corners - too little space for five cars.
RXR initially fell very far behind in the "sandwich" of cars, and Acciona Sainz and ABT also lost ground. Things were to get even worse for the German team a little later: Sebastien Loeb noticed a puncture already on the first lap! He headed for the pit lane after only 2.2 kilometers to have the damaged wheel replaced. At the head of the field, Anderson (CGR) was the first to drive his car into the changeover zone a little later, followed by the Andretti, Acciona Sainz and RXR cars. At this point, the team founded by Nico Rosberg had already reduced its gap from nine to less than three seconds.
During the driver swap, Sorensen, Munnings, Ahlin-Kottulinsky and - with a large gap - Andersson took over the steering wheels. In the second part of the race, the drama was not to diminish. Munnings tangled with Ahlin-Kottulinsky in a battle for position and rolled onto her side. The Briton thus had to abandon the X Prix as the only participant.
Somewhat further ahead, Sorensen (CGR) crossed the finish line first shortly after. But already on the last lap, the race organizers had announced a penalty against the U.S. team: The US-American had started a few moments too early from the pit lane! The supposed winning team was therefore given a 15.7-second time penalty and was only classified in third position. Instead, victory went to RXR, which had also left Team Acciona Sainz behind after a strong recovery. The Spanish team was classified in second place, with ABT in fourth.
Result: 1st RXR, 2nd Sainz, 3rd CGR, 4th ABT, DNF: Andretti
In the overall standings Acciona Sainz thus takes the lead - but only by two points ahead of Veloce. Ten more points behind follows RXR, with CGR and X44 rounding out the top 5 in the overall standings at the season's halfway point.
The next opportunity for teams to score points, however, comes as early as Sunday, when the second part of the 2023 Island X Prix takes place.