Nico Rosberg’s team won the first race in the Extreme E electric off-road racing series with Johan Kristoffersson and Molly Taylor as drivers. In the lower ranks, the event in Saudi Arabia was marked by two accidents.
Rosberg X Racing (RXR) won the first Extreme E race weekend in Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia, ahead of Andretti United (driver: Timmy Hansen / Catie Munnings) and X44, Lewis Hamilton’s team (driver: Sébastien Loeb / Cristina Gutiérrez).
The events, called X-Prix, are run in a knockout system. After a qualifying run as an individual time trial, three teams compete against each other to determine the three finalists. There, the team of ex-Formula 1 world champion Nico Rosberg, who was present on-site, prevailed against the US team Andretti and the team of his Formula 1 teammate and opponent Lewis Hamilton.
The races also include driver changes, with one male and one female driver starting in each car. However, the overtaking manoeuvre that ultimately decided the race took place in the first turn of the final run, Kristoffersson and later Taylor kept the lead. Because of the heavy dust and poor visibility in the desert, it was tough to follow other vehicles closely. Ultimately, nothing could stop Kristoffersson and Taylor from taking the top step of the podium – not a 60-second penalty for exceeding the 30km/h limit in the driver switch zone, nor less favourable grid slots in both the Semi-Final and Final.
Alejandro Agag, Founder and CEO of Extreme E, said he could not have written a better script. He added: “This first race weekend will have a huge influence on how Extreme E evolves, and one of the reasons I feel so proud is that we have built this platform where female drivers can shine like they deserve.”
Team boss Rosberg echoed the sentiment. “Everything has come together so well, and everybody has worked together so well. Molly and Johan produced some phenomenal driving.”
Driving skill is essential as the Extreme E uses one standard car. The Odyssey 21, manufactured by Spark Racing Technology, accelerates to 100 km/h in 4.5 seconds and can negotiate gradients of up to 130 per cent. To charge the vehicles at remote locations, the Extreme E relies on a charging solution from AFC Energy which features a fuel cell and buffer battery to provide electricity for the racing cars.
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Talk about driving, two accidents marked the Saudi Arabia event. Stephane Sarrazin’s Veloce racer overturned in the first qualifying session, causing irreparable damage to the car’s roll bar. Later, German racer Claudia Hürtgen overturned in the Cupra-Abt team car. The car was rebuilt overnight. In the race for 7th and 8th place, Hürtgen collided with Ganassi driver Kyle LeDuc, again severely damaging the car. Apart from a bite to the tongue in Hürtgen’s quadruple rollover, all involved were uninjured.
The second race, the Ocean X-Prix, will take place at the end of May in Senegal near the capital Dakar.
The Ocean is the second location in a series of five racing events in the Extreme E series. Apart from the desert and the coast, these include the Arctic, rainforest, and glacier regions. The racing series claims the selection was made to raise awareness of the environmental issues there.
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