Inside Ganassi’s nightmare Extreme E start

The American outfit was hit more than most on shakedown

Sara Price (USA)/Kyle Leduc (USA), Segi TV Chip Ganassi Racing

At the start of the day, Chip Ganassi Racing had emerged as the Extreme E favourite for this weekend’s Desert X-Prix in Saudi Arabia. But as the sun went down in the desert, the American outfit was busy fixing the first rolled Odyssey 21 on a day when neither driver completed their shakedown lap of the five-mile course.

Ganassi driver Sara Price was the first driver ever to run an Extreme E lap at competitive speeds, but her time aboard the Hummer-branded SUV was cut short by an electrical glitch.

The car stopped with around a mile to go to the finish. Prior to that, she was happy with the way the car had worked.

Talking about the incident, Price said: “When I was going, it was a great lap so far and we got about halfway and the car just stopped on me.

“It threw a code and I told the team really fast and it kind of disappeared.

“We couldn’t figure out what the issue was, we turned it off and it wouldn’t turn back on so they went ahead and took it back on a trailer, took it back to a garage and handed it over to Spark right away to try and diagnose the situation and the problem and the car then it started, and it was fine.”

Price’s team-mate Kyle LeDuc took the car for the second shakedown session and crashed mid-way through the lap.

“I just actually got back from the command center and Kyle did roll,” Price told DirtFish.

“He’s safe, he’s doing really well. The car is really fast he said. I don’t know the condition of the vehicle as of right now, but I think we’ll be good to go after the mechanics get their hands on it and I’m just glad this is all happening on the shakedown!

“If we’re getting the bugs out, hopefully we’re going to have a great weekend.”

Team manager Dave Birkenfield remained upbeat despite a challenging day.

“We’ll get there,” said Birkenfield. “We’re happy with the car. We have a lot of work to do, but every team has a lot of work to do.

“Kyle’s fine, but his ego’s just a bit bruised – he’s getting ready to help us tear into this car.

“This series, Extreme E, it’s extreme terrain. It’s pretty rough. We pre-ran the course a bunch of times yesterday and it’s a fast course with big danger zones, some of the stuff was shaded with big pieces of camel grass and we didn’t get a great shot of the shaded areas. We don’t know what the final deal is [with the car].”

When the car arrived back into the paddock, the feeling was that it would make Saturday’s qualifying session.

One source said: “It needs some work, but they’ve got plenty of time. The front-right looks to have taken the biggest hit. OK, I haven’t had a detailed look and I don’t know if there’s any powertrain damage, but if this happened in rally, it’s the sort of thing you’d have fixed pretty quickly.”