Two-time World Rally Champion Carlos Sainz is ready to help Extreme E organizers find a better solution to deliver more racing on forthcoming rounds of the series.
As predicted by Sainz and his fellow competitors ahead of last week’s Desert X-Prix, wheel-to-wheel battles were impossible beyond the first two corners due to the lack of visibility in Saudi Arabia.
The series next moves to Senegal and Lac Rose, an area Sainz knows well from his time competing there on the Dakar. He’s ready to help Alejandro Agag find the right mix of racing, landscape and entertainment when the series reaches Africa at the end of next month.
“The format Alejandro is looking for in the desert is possible, but not with the kind of terrain in AlUla,” Sainz told DirtFish.
“I have experienced this terrain many, many, many times myself. The backdrop [in Saudi] is nice, but after two minutes what do you prefer? A really nice landscape or a nice race. I think in the future they will have to have the two things in mind.
Normally I would be very, very upset and frustrated but I decide after one hour I cannot take it any more like that. We have to have an open mind with this championshipCarlos Sainz on his shakedown woes
“I’m not criticizing, I’m being positive and I want to help. We need to keep an open mind and look to the future,” he added.
“We have to learn for the future competition in the desert and, without a doubt, in my opinion will be the big opportunity [in Senegal] to make this sort of race with the dunes. We need the dunes to give us the vertical and to give us the technical sections. In Saudi, there have been too many fast places where you cannot follow with the dust.
“I was looking forward to the similar experience I take [from Saudi] during Dakar, but there wasn’t so much – not so many compressions. You need the vertical to make it interesting.
“Look to the coverage of me and Nasser [Al-Attiyah] and sometimes [Stéphane] Peterhansel in recent years on Dakar. When we are in the dunes, we are following each other – we are together sometimes for 400 kilometers.
“[Extreme E] is much shorter and I don’t say have all the race in the dunes, but if we can make it more technical, but then make the gates wider [for the cars to pass through on different lines] then it can be very interesting.
“I am ready to help with this. Like I say, we are in the beginning of this adventure and we need to work together on it.”
Sainz’s patience was further tested last weekend when he suffered a powersteering problem aboard his Odyessey 21 at Friday’s shakedown. That meant he completed just 1.74 of the 5.43 mile Saudi circuit.
“Normally I would be very, very upset and frustrated [after shakedown] to miss most of the track and go directly in qualifying,” he said, “but I decide after one hour I cannot take it any more like that. We have to have an open mind with this championship.”
In terms of the car, Sainz’s concerns were centered on the BOS damper and overheating issues with the battery.
“There is no reason why the suspension cannot be better tuned,” he said.
“Suspension is always very personal, somebody maybe likes this, but me and my experience of the Dakar I feel uncomfortable driving this. I think the damper, the way the damper is working, the curve of this damper compared to the curve of the Dakar car – the Dakar car is safer over the bumps.
“We have seen the rear kicks because there’s not the control from the damper. We need a different curve from the damper. And for the battery, we have to limit the power because the battery is overheating – one of the attractions of this championship was the power from the car. We need to find a way to cool the battery and give us back the power.
“But, I say again, this is the beginning. I want to be constructive with this, I want to help because I believe we have a good way [with this championship].”
Overheating issues with the batteries meant the nine XE cars were cut from 400kW (536bhp) to 285kW (382bhp) for Q1 before being further restricted to 225kW (301bhp) from Q2 until the end of the event.
Sainz and team-mate Laia Sanz are currently fourth in the championship standings after missing out on a spot in the final due to being beaten by event winners Rosberg X Racing and Team X44 in the semifinal.