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X44 tops second qualifying session of Ocean X-Prix

Cristina Gutierrez (ESP)/Sebastien Loeb (FRA), X44. Credits: Extreme E.

At the term of the second qualifying session of the day in Extreme E, the X44 crew consolidated their advance and secured a spot in the first semi-final group.

The first qualifying session of Extreme E’s Ocean X-Prix raised some major question marks: will Sebastien Loeb and Christina Guttierez keep up with the form they showed this morning, will Andretti United come back after going fastest during yesterday’s shakedown, and will Carlos Sainz and Laia Sainz manage to make up for their disappointing first qualifying outing?

Stephane Sarrazin and Jamie Chadwick were the first out on track and gave everything they had to secure a semi-final spot. After both drivers completed their lap, their time seemed to be on the line and a top 6 finish that would allow them to secure a spot in a semi final group was not promissed for the duet.

Andretti United then also initiated an attempt but needed a miracle to claim a spot within the top 6, completing their two laps in almost 15 minutes during the first qualifying session. Catie Munnings was the first member of the duet to complete a lap before Timmy Hansen took the wheel. Unfortunately, the efforts of the team were not rewarded as they could not make up for their 3 minutes delay and will not attend the semi-final.

Nico Rosberg’s championship-leading team was the next to start a timed lap. Taylor and Kristoffersson were driving with the simple goal of dominating all the other teams. After lapping the 6km track twice, the duet was more than 50 seconds ahead of the provisional leaders of the event. Veloce Racing, therefore comfortably claimed the first spot of the event after one-third of the teams completed an attempt.

The first-ever feminine Dakar winner, Jutta Kleinschmidt, who was temporarily replacing Claudia Hürtgen for ABT Cupra XE was next on track. The German driver seemingly did not lose her talent on sand tracks, raising the bar a notch higher and starting to fill Cupra’s gap to RxR to try to claim a spot in the first semi-final group. At the end of their two laps, the duet claimed the provisional second overall spot with a slight advantage of 9 seconds for RxR.

The fastest crew of this morning’s qualifying session, the X44 team, composed of Loeb and Gutierrez, were the next to emerge on the Senegalese sand. Gutierrez showed amazing confidence on the extremely technical track and managed to extend the comfortable 15 seconds lead of the duet. Loeb then put the knife in the wound, once again deepening X44’s gap by more than 10 seconds.

The closest crew to Loeb and Gutierrez, Chip Ganassi Racing was next on the list. Kyle Leduc was the first to install himself behind the wheel of his electric SUV. Unfortunately, after a few seconds, his car stopped on track due to an unforeseen technical issue that shut the electric systems down. After bringing some repairs to his vehicle, the American driver could finally resume his attempt but almost lost 4 precious minutes of time to complete the repairs, flunking them out of the semi-finals.

JBXE then took their chance on the 6km track, and crossed the start-finish line twice in just 11:12.021, therefore securing a solid top 6 finish.

The XITE Energy Racing crew were next on track and had a major challenge in sight as they were standing just 15 seconds behind the Veloce Racing Crew at the term of the first qualifying session. If the drivers of the Spanish crew could nail two clean laps, they could have a real chance of making it into the second semi-final group, and this is exactly what they did, setting up a time of 11:43.655, and therefore claiming a spot inside the top 6, thanks to their decent performance in Q1.

The Acciona Sainz XE team was the last to take the track although they had nothing to play for after withdrawing from this morning’s session. However, the afternoon session could still represent a good training opportunity for the challenge they will have to face tomorrow during the shootout.

Finally, after the second qualifying session of the Ocean X-Prix on the magnificent Senegalese sand, Loeb and Gutierrez did not vacillate and secured the first spot on the timetable, closely followed by the RxR and the ABT Cupra crews, promising an amazing battle during tomorrow’s semi-final races.

Final qualifying ranking of the 2021 Extreme E Ocean X-Prix:

PositionTeamQ1 + Q2 times/gapsNext stage
1X4421:44.856Semi final 1
2RxR+27.58Semi final 1
3ABT Cupra XE +35.95Semi final 1
4JBXE+40.570Semi final 2
5Veloce Racing+1:20.51 Semi final 2
6Xite Energy Racing+1.51.60 Semi final 2
7Segi TV Chip Ganassi Racing+3:56.95 Shootout
8 Andretti United Extreme E +4:12.212Shootout
9Sainz XE Team+1 LapShootout
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