Veloce Racing driver Christine Giampaoli Zonca rolled out of the first Extreme E qualifying session of 2022 while leading the timesheets, hurting her left ankle in the process.
A strong opening lap by Lance Woolridge in Qualifying 1 at the Desert X-Prix in Saudi Arabia had put Veloce second after the team’s first lap, with Giampaoli Zonca quickly moving up to lead the split times thereafter.
But as she went through a fast left-hander after a sharp downhill section, the left side of her car caught a rut in the sand and flipped Veloce’s Odyssey 21 over, rolling multiple times.
While the roll caused damage to the car, there was bigger concern for Giampaoli Zonca, who had hurt her left ankle in the roll.
“She came out of the car and went to the medical center. She clearly has a problem with her left ankle; she can’t put any weight on it,” said Ian Davies, Veloce team manager.
“So generally speaking she’s good but her left ankle is a worry, so she’s now gone to hospital for scans. But in general, she’s doing OK.”
Despite the crash Veloce is still hoping to be present in the second qualifying session later today, in which it would line up fifth in a heat race against X44, Chip Ganassi, Sainz, and ABT Cupra should it make the grid.
Veloce also has a Plan B in place should Giampaoli Zonca be unable to continue, with its reserve driver Hedda Hosas already on-site.
“Clearly we’re going to try,” said Davies. “I’m a rally man and we can fix most things in 45 minutes on a car.
“We haven’t seen the car [in person] yet, we’ve only seen pictures, so we need to assess the car when it comes back. But we want to try and make it this afternoon.
“It depends on Christine’s outcome but also whether we can use the reserve driver if Christine’s leg is in trouble.”
Reigning champion Johan Kristoffersson went fastest alongside his new Rosberg X Racing team-mate Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky, pipping X44 pairing Sébastien Loeb and Cristina Gutiérrez to the quickest time.
Tamara Molinaro performed strongly on her Extreme E debut, combining with Oli Bennett to put Xite Racing into the top five.
Fellow debutant Nasser Al-Attiyah, a four-time Dakar Rally winner, suffered a bizarre incident when he missed the finish line entirely, turned around and passed back through the last set of gates.
Despite going back to pass through properly Al-Attiyah and team-mate Jutta Kleinschmidt were given a penalty regardless, so could only manage eighth overall for Abt Cupra.
Molly Taylor, the other reigning champion in the field, suffered a tricky start to her new partnership with Kevin Hansen at JBXE.
Halfway through her lap Taylor hit a rock, breaking the JBXE car’s differential and right-rear driveshaft. She lost over a minute and is now ninth along with Hansen, ahead only of the non-finishing Veloce.