Three rounds in, two to go. There’s four different teams that could win the inaugural Extreme E title, and the question after the Arctic X-Prix is: who can calculate the risk best going forward?
Almost every crew showed its pace in Greenland, but some tried to go beyond it and paid the price. Still, it’s Rosberg X Racing who leads the way in the standings, and getting a full day of racing on Sunday meant we got to see XE as it was envisaged and analyze it too.
Here is DirtFish’s team ratings from the third ever round of Extreme E.
Andretti United 10/10
Catie Munnings/Timmy Hansen
It was smiles all around even when things were going wrong at Andretti last weekend, like in Q1 when the car stopped entirely as Hansen hit the brakes for the driver switch zone. Getting the car sideways, rallycross-style, was fast enough in Q2 to bring Andretti up to fourth overall on qualifying points.
Munnings showed off racecraft that belied her lack of wheel-to-wheel experience, securing her team victory in semifinal two by breaking RXR driver Molly Taylor’s defences with a riverbed pass, learned from Hansen after he did the same on Taylor’s team-mate Johan Kristoffersson a lap earlier.
After getting pumped up to practice a rallycross start, Munnings took to the wheel first in the final and used the ‘hyperdrive’ power boost early to snatch the lead. She was back in third when she handed over to Hansen, who actually left the driver switch zone as leader and had a battle with Kristoffersson that got riskier and riskier until his rival’s car cried foul.
Andretti’s duo kept it light both on and off the track, and that’s what secured them victory. It was also a huge turnaround after looking lost at the Ocean X-Prix.
Abt Cupra 6/10
Jutta Kleinschmidt/Mattias Ekström
Two Dakar-experienced drivers should have known the dangers of rough terrain and large rocks, and as the only team to run trouble-free in free practice two Abt did end up as fastest overall. Its drivers were solid and steady, neither going fastest in any sector, but were quick in the driver switch zone and fairly well matched on pace.
They were similarly effective in Q1, where Abt was a very close second place. It primarily went downhill from there though, with Ekström knocking both rear wheels in the ‘rock garden’ in Q2 and therefore not providing Kleinschmidt with a chance to drive, then the driveshaft on the rear-right broke 15 seconds into semifinal two while Kleinschmidt was at the wheel and leading.
It made the car a handful to control, and Abt’s weekend ended by finishing 54s off victory.
Acciona Sainz 6/10
Laia Sanz/Carlos Sainz
For a driver very new to car racing and with very limited seat time in XE, Laia Sanz is learning fast alongside Carlos Sainz and was trusted with being the starting driver in the final.
How the team got there was tricky, but ultimately it was achieved on pace as much as it was luck.
The team suffered a reoccurence of the power steering issues from previous rounds in free practice, and the slow switch between drivers was also a familiar sight and cost the pair in Q1.
Sainz was rapid in Q2 and semifinal one to bring his team to the final, in which he held off X44 to secure his first podium in a points-scoring car race in a decade.
Chip Ganassi Racing 6/10
Sara Price/Kyle LeDuc
LeDuc was once again the quickest to adapt to the circuit, but once again the pace of he and team-mate Sara Price wasn’t realized due to more awful luck.
FP1 was red flagged after LeDuc stopped witb battery overheating and flaming brakes. In Q1 he avoided a roll but did cop a penalty for hitting a gate, and on his next qualifying run the rear-left corner of the car was ripped off by a mound.
The team explained to DirtFish that it was a failure of the kingpin on the bottom part of the upright, and after lengthy repairs the car was ready for the next day’s crazy race.
But that too didn’t last long, as the tire rod gave up on the front-right for Price after some wheel-to-wheel fighting and the weekend was done.
“We’ve got to stop digging holes, for sure,” Ganassi”s team manager Dave Berkenfield said.
Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky/Kevin Hansen
The bad luck and car damage came early in the weekend for JBXE, enabling them to have a cleaner run on Sunday against the odds to finish second overall.
Kevin Hansen got a rear-left puncture late in his free practice lap that meant JBXE had to dig the car out of the ruts before jacking it up to change the tire when he stopped in the driver switch zone, then team-mate Ahlin-Kottulinsky had a software issue strike very soon after she took over.
She was stopped again in Q1 by electrical rather than mechanical issues, although she did then break the front-left steering arm in the ‘rock garden’ section and denied Hansen a lap.
There were more software problems in Q2 as they lost 30s when the car shut down under braking for the driver switch zone. Their troubles earned them a 30s penalty in the crazy race for using too many tires (a necessity after punctures), but somehow JBXE still won to make the final as Hansen closed down a 23s gap to take the lead before his rivals retired anyway.
“I really thought we could win it [when I got in the car], and I know we had the great pace,” Hansen told DirtFish.
JBXE stayed out of trouble in the final to make the podium for the second time in a row.
Rosberg X Racing 7/10
Molly Taylor/Johan Kristoffersson
The fastest combination on track was also the most risk-prone, and that’s what cost the team a third X-Prix win in a row.
Kristoffersson was another to lose drive when braking for the switch zone. The car stopped twice on his Q1 lap, and then Taylor rolled which meant they were the slowest of the crews to complete two laps.
Damage from that delayed RXR’s Q2 participation so much that when the team got on track a rare storm had hit. Despite the changing conditions, RXR went fastest.
Second place in their semifinal could have been replicated in the final if Kristoffersson hadn’t been too ambitious in battle.
Veloce Racing 8/10
Emma Gilmour/Stéphane Sarrazin
XE debutant Gilmour didn’t take long to bring herself up to the level required to be competitive in the series; not surprising given her established rally career and rallycross experience. And having a new driver in the car was probably the easiest part of a tricky weekend for the team.
Veloce was last on the road in practice, meaning it ran on a heavily rutted track, and didn’t even complete its run due to battery overheating. Gate errors and a lack of power steering compounded both qualifying sessions, but otherwise Gilmour and Sarrazin showed the pace to be at the front.
That was proven in semifinal one, where both drivers briefly took the lead thanks to clever reading of the surface condition. On Sarrazin’s lap he battled hard with X44’s Sébastien Loeb, and cut scross the whole of the ‘rock garden’ to pass him.
The incredible overtake worked, but a hard landing on a jump shortly after broke the front-left and meant he agonizingly finished third and short of making the final.
Cristina Gutiérrez/Sébastien Loeb
There was little surprise that a man of Loeb’s experience was a class above in the twisty and technical first sector of the lap, but that was scrubbed for the Sunday action and replaced by a long straight.
Still, the top qualifying team excelled on that stretch too, and Loeb’s semifinal battle with Sarrazin also included a forceful but inspired pass outside of the track through the lake section. He almost ended up in third at the end, but made a pass at the finish to win.
Loeb got himself ahead before the single-lane section of the lap in the final, and then streaked away by 15s before his dominance was trimmed at the end by a rear-right puncture.
He changed that as Gutiérrez got in the car, and she exited the driver switch zone disputing fourth with Sainz. The latter won that battle, but outside-the-box (and the gate) thinking at the final gate showed how hard she wanted a podium.
Xite Energy Racing 6/10
Christine GZ/Oliver Bennett
Xite Energy Racing was kind of in undisputed midfield territory for much of the weekend, and also had its share of awful luck.
Bennett had a total lack of power in Q2 that led to him driving the car back to the paddock rather than completing a lap,
When team-mate Christine GZ got back in the car for Sunday’s crazy race she was raring to go, and with a great move at the gate 16 hairpin at the far end of the riverbed, passed Ganassi’s Price.
That meant the team led after the switchover, but a place in the final was lost as Hansen took down Bennett’s huge lead. That was before a heavy front-end landing off a crest damaged the skidplate underneath the car and led to a water leak that left the inverter without cooling and soon left the car without drive as temperatures rocketed.