Battery troubles prompt second Extreme E track change

The Arctic X-Prix course was altered earlier in the weekend


Extreme E has changed the Arctic X-Prix track layout for the second time over the weekend prior to car racing taking place in Greenland for the very first time on Sunday.

The series was making revisions to its proposed layout of the circuit running in the riverbed of the Russell Glacier all the way until the official track walk took place, and also issued track maps that weren’t used.

Through Friday and Saturday a 5.4-mile configuration was used for shakedown, free practice and qualifying which began with a heavily technical undulating sand section, moved onto a lakeside track before dropping onto the riverbed for sector two. The ‘super sector’ and final sector also utilized that terrain, but were turned into long straights across the riverbed after initially being planned to be more complex.

The lap concluded with the ‘rock garden’, which is a brief boulder-filled plain, and a patch of bumpy tundra to the driver switch zone. Most of those features remain for Sunday, but the opening sector has been shortened and several of its challenges removed.

While the startline remains in the same position, the opening gate has moved to the right, and gate two is now tighter to the paddock as the next three gates are all set to be removed. Instead of climbing up what XE have called the ‘cliff face’ and then descending sharply off the side of it at gate five back down to the riverbed, the repositioned gate two makes drivers turn more sharply to drive along the very edge of the riverbed all the way to what was a hairpin at gate six that is an incredibly steep climb back up the cliff face.

One team explained the new layout and the reasons behind it to DirtFish, pointing primarily to the fact that this shorter run will reduce the mileage on the batteries and therefore minimize the chance of them overheating; a problem that has left several crews stopped on course so far and was a key point in a lengthy team managers meeting after the second qualifying session where more than half of the cars hit trouble.

Molly Taylor (AUS), Rosberg X Racing crashes

The revised layout will also cut out a set of bumps in the sand where Rosberg X Racing’s Molly Taylor has rolled, Andretti United’s Timmy Hansen went skyward and a whole corner was ripped off Chip Ganassi Racing’s car when Kyle LeDuc struck a brow with his rear-left tire.

Drivers will only be running at 200kW of power on Sunday, although the ‘hyperboost’ will remain at 400kW for four seconds of use at a time. Teams had 275kW to use at first, but that was lowered to 225kW for Q1 after drivers struggled to complete the lap within the energy limit, and chassis provider Spark told DirtFish that a further reduction to 200kW would be trialed in Q2 but with the plan to use it for the rest of the weekend.

Another point of contention for teams after qualifying was that the limit of six tires was exceeded after several crews had punctures. However there was no penalty defined within the regulations on what should occur when a team exceeds that limit, and JBXE would not have been able to contest Q2 had it not sourced an extra tire to ensure four was on the car.

DirtFish understands that the conclusion of the discussions may be that only four new tires are available to each team for the shootout races and the final on Sunday, rather than the planned six.

Photography:Extreme E Media

Words:Ida Wood