With two Extreme E events now in the books, we’re starting to get a better feel of what the competitive order looks like.
Alas, while we may have those ideas, the typically unpredictable series continues to throw environmental and technical curveballs.
Some of the expected suspects continued to show well, while other supposed frontrunners were flawed by issues out of their control.
Nevertheless, Senegal also gave us the first true show of ‘racing’ this season, allowing us a better chance at proper side-by-side comparisons, both literally and figuratively.
CHIP GANASSI RACING
Kyle LeDuc/Sara Price – 9/10
While at face value it might seem strange to give a team that ended up battling for one of the final three spots the highest rating, Senegal was a world away from Saudi Arabia for Ganassi.
Approaching the weekend in a more conservative and reserved fashion after round one, the team still managed to often set the pace over the course of the weekend, and Sara Price and Kyle LeDuc’s spectacular charges were a sight to behold.
On a track that was supposedly difficult to overtake on and made up with the most challenging of terrains, Ganassi didn’t really follow the script that the others did; its Odyssey 21 more often resembling a steam roller as it ironed out the beach bumps and picked off rivals one by one.
Unfortunately the team’s chances of a proper result were dashed in qualifying in the most bizzarre of circumstances, but you can hardly blame the team for a tree branch pulling a fire extinguisher cord. And it did manage to salvage a handful of bonus points with the fastest ‘Super Sector’ time.
Nevertheless, we’ve now seen what this team can really do when it gets a chance to shine. Now it just needs to exercise what demons remain for the final three rounds.
ROSBERG X RACING
Johan Kristoffersson/Molly Taylor – 8/10
It was yet another strong weekend for RXR, which snapped up its second win from as many events. But while it barely put a foot wrong all weekend, it perhaps wasn’t the favorite going into Sunday.
While X44 shone on Saturday to top qualifying, RXR played the role of silent assassin, pouncing when the real racing began on Sunday after a quiet run to fourth on Saturday. In the semifinal it was there to snatch glory when Abt Cupra’s race fell apart due to radio issues, while when the final came around a strong start helped it steer clear of the issues that ultimately claimed half the field.
It wasn’t the barnstorming dominance we saw in Saudi Arabia, but rather resilient perserverance and smart driving over the course of the weekend, and it paid off.
Cristina Gutiérrez/Sébastien Loeb – 8/10
While it barely made it around the first corner, X44 earns the same rating as the event winner through its sheer pace all weekend.
A comprehensive qualifying win was backed up with second place in its semifinal in which it easily matched RXR, but the tough circuit conditions preventing either Loeb or Gutierrez from getting by on a number of occasions.
The less said about the final, the better. Forced wide into the first proper corner, which resulted in a suspension failure, the two hundred meters or so it did cover were impressive, and a good fight was on the cards. Alas it wasn’t meant to be.
Still, it was yet another impressive weekend for X44, but lady luck eventually had other ideas.
Stéphane Sarrazin/Jamie Chadwick – 7/10
After barely featuring in Saudi Arabia, this weekend was absolutely key for Veloce.
Sarrazin said the aim for the weekend was the “not make any mistakes”, while Chadwick echoed her team-mate’s sentimiments and spoke of managing the weekend well. All of it paid off.
While you could argue it only progressed to the semifinal stage as a result of other teams’ misfortune, that’s a daft thing to say – not only is it part of motorsport, but regardless, Veloce was in the right place at the right time to make the most of the opportunity presented to it.
A similar story followed in the final, which resulted in it being one of only two teams to finish, and consequently an unexpected podium finish.
Solid, safe, job done. And with a nice reward to boot.
Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky/Kevin Hansen – 7/10
JBXE had a bit of a task on its hands when it announced a driver change mere days before the event. Luckily for the team, the stand-in for Jenson Button was off-road racing royalty in the shape of reigning Nitro Rallycross champion Kevin Hansen. What’s more, he’d previously tested the Odyssey 21 and knew regular driver Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky well.
As a result Hansen blended seamlessly into the team, and after struggling in Saudi Arabia, JBXE made a clear step up in Senegal.
Slap-bang in the middle of the field in qualifying, it dominated the second semifinal on Sunday and looked like a good bet for the win in the final until an excursion mere inches off-line resulted in irrepairable damage.
Still, the attrition rate of that final meant JBXE took home a maiden podium. It didn’t make it past the second turn, but that’s not important, right? A podium is still a podium.
Mattias Ekström/Jutta Kleinschmidt – 6/10
Mattias Ekstrom once again shone every time he was out on track, and set the fastest single lap time in practice on Friday, but with an ill Claudia Hurtgen alongside him, the team ended Friday a lowly eigthth.
Jutta Kleinschmidt was parachuted into the team that evening to replace Hurtgen and the team immediately stepped up, with the Dakar veteran shining and matching Ekstrom nicely.
Pace-wise, the team was right up there after the change, but hiccups in the driver swaps in qualifying and semifinal robbed it of a better overall result from the weekend.
XITE ENERGY RACING
Oliver Bennett/Christine Giampaoli Zonca – 5/10
Another solid weekend for Xite Energy, which unlike most of the other teams managed to keep its nose mostly clean throughout the weekend – something worthy of a trophy of itself in this bonkers series.
Its biggest ‘issue’ being a bump on the speed limiter that hampered its result in qualifying, but in the semifinal both Bennett and Giampaoli Zonca got their elbows out in battles with the Veloce car. They showed impressive fighting spirit, but it was Veloce that ultimately prevailed.
If they can continue to have weekends like this, but improve their pace, better results will definitely come the way of Xite Energy. The team looks to have all the ingredients to succeed in this series, it just needs a little polish on the edges.
Timmy Hansen/Catie Munnings – 4/10
It’s probably fair to say that it was a weekend to forget for Andretti United.
We know how good both Timmy Hansen and Catie Munnings can be, as evidenced by their strong form in Saudi Arabia, but neither looked completely comfortable in Lac Rose all weekend, as the team struggled to find the sweet spot in the set-up for the bumps and ruts of the beach.
A stoppage of several minutes in qualifying basically ended the team’s hopes of another strong result before they even began, and with their heads down, it became a case of simply getting through the rest of the weekend and learning what they could.
A harsh reality check for the team, but others have performed well following worse weekends, so all is not completely lost.
Carlos Sainz/Laia Sanz – 3/10
King Carlos once again proved why he’s won as much as he has, lapping among the fastest drivers whenever he took to the track, but Laia Sanz’s failure to maintain an 8.8 second lead in the Shoot Out that ultimately cost the team a consolation heat win was disappointing.
Not as disappointing as the water pressure problem that ended its qualifying run early though. Like Andretti and Ganassi, that basically meant its weekend was over before it begun in earnest.
We know how good this team can be, but once again there seemed to be two lows for every high. Time to reset, again, before Greenland.