A delightful duel played out in the Saudi Arabian AlUla desert on Saturday as the first-ever qualifying session for Extreme E took place with X44 coming out on top with Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez coming out on top of the charts.
Speaking following the action, Loeb commented saying:
We’re very happy to have finished Qualifying in first place. Today went really well and the whole X44 team did a great job with the car in difficult conditions. We were the first drivers to get out onto the track so it was hard to know what to expect in the first Qualifying round, but obviously our strategy paid off and we achieved the time we needed to. Tomorrow is a new day and the standard of the other teams will be really high, so we’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing and pushing to win.
Gutierrez commented on the action saying:
We’ve had an incredible day, but it was also very challenging! We haven’t been able to spend any time in the car for the last few months so it was difficult to get used to it again, but we managed to fight and achieve a good time. To have finished first in Qualifying and have our car still in great condition is amazing; we’re really happy, and we can’t wait to go again tomorrow. We know the other teams are not going to be easy to race against, but we are confident and ready to go.
Extreme E founder and CEO Alejandro Agag commented saying:
I think the first day of Extreme E has been absolutely fantastic. I have been blown away by the action and the images – there was just so much to look at. It was even better than we expected, and the feedback on social media has been amazing – and this was only Qualifying! I really think we are onto something huge here.
Carlos Sainz, ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team driver, said:
“Considering it is only the first day of racing, in general we are pretty happy. We set the second-fastest time overall and we scored good points. Tomorrow we will be in the first Semi-Final, from where only two teams will reach the Final. We will try to do a good job. The goal for Sunday is to make it into the Final. We know it will be tough judging by the lap times we have seen today, but the team is in good spirits. The start will matter a lot. It will be the first race we do with all the cars starting side-by-side in the dust, so it will be interesting…”
Laia Sanz, ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team driver, said:
“Today was a positive day. There were many unknowns before Qualifying, but we were further ahead than I had expected and I am happy. It was a busy day, but we made it through quite well. Maybe I played it a bit safe in the first Qualifying, but we improved the car for the second session and the times were faster. Extreme E is particularly tricky because you have to be competitive from the very beginning and it is difficult to adapt that fast, but my feeling in the car has improved and we are heading in the right direction. The goal for Sunday is to do a good Semi-Final to finish in the top two, because that would put us into the Final, which would be a great result for this first weekend of racing.”
Rosberg Xtreme Racing’s Johan Kristoffersson and Molly Taylor made it through to Sunday’s Semi-final and speaking following the action Kristoffersson commented saying:
“It’s been an intense start to the weekend but the team has done a great job to help us go P3 in Qualifying, score strong points and put us into the Semi-Finals for tomorrow. Molly and I are both learning more about the car every time we head out on the course, and we have a lot of feedback to run through with the engineers to make sure we are in a strong position to go racing.”
Molly Taylor, Rosberg X Racing driver, said:
It’s been a strong start to the weekend for RXR, and I’m happy with our performance. The course is changing a lot during the sessions because of the ruts and new tyre tracks that are appearing, so every lap feels different to the last and is a new challenge. We had some wild moments in Qualifying 1, but we managed to keep it pinned to go fastest and have a strong run in Qualifying 2 to make it through to the Semi-Finals tomorrow.”
It was a disappointing day for Segi Chip Ganassi Racing as the team was unable to their Odyssey 21 on track due to a technical issue. Meanwhile, Veloce Racing was forced to withdraw from the event due to irreparable damage following an accident in this morning’s first qualifying session.
ABT Cupra also endured a tough session after rolling their car. Speaking after the sessions, Alejandro Agag commented saying:
There were some heart-in-the-mouth moments today, particularly for ABT CUPRA XE and Claudia Hürtgen. I think it’s safe to say we are all pleased to see her walk away from the crash – it is a testament to CBMM Niobium and their robust and tough chassis, which was put to the ultimate test today and delivered.
X44 (Sébastien Loeb / Cristina Gutiérrez) 21m55.998s
ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team (Carlos Sainz / Laia Sanz) +41.097s
Rosberg X Racing (Johan Kristoffersson / Molly Taylor) +50.825s
Andretti United (Timmy Hansen / Catie Munnings) +1m08.536s
Hispano Suiza XITE Energy Team (Oliver Bennett / Christine Giampaoli Zonca) +3m14.734s
JBXE (Jenson Button / Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky) +4m54.880s
Segi TV Chip Ganassi Racing (Kyle LeDuc / Sara Price) +2 laps
ABT Cupra XE (Mattias Ekström / Claudia Hürtgen) +3 laps
Veloce Racing (Stéphane Sarrazin / Jamie Chadwick) +4 laps