Rosberg X Racing’s Molly Taylor and Johan Kristoffersson claimed a third win from four rounds at Extreme E’s Island X-Prix as reliability woes robbed Chip Ganassi Racing of an almost certain victory.
Starting for the American team, Kyle LeDuc opted to go for a far right line while the fast starting Sébastien Loeb of Team X44 went far left.
It looked as if Loeb had prevailed, until LeDuc swept across into the lead as both went into the first waypoint.
From there, LeDuc dropped the hammer and built a big lead. Loeb meanwhile had to contend with a slow puncture which then developed into a steering failure.
Behind those two, Taylor in the RXR machine was quietly holding onto third after a somewhat subdued beginning to her race, while JBXE’s Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky spun on the start after an awkward landing from a bump in the terrain.
Abt Cupra’s Jutta Kleinschmidt meanwhile had a fight on her hands after failing to engage drive at the race start.
She closed the gap on Taylor by the mid-race driver change, but out in front Ganassi had a lead of over 45 seconds – the minimum mandated driver change time – and looked on course for a long-awaited first victory in the series.
That was until the team’s Hummer-branded Odyssey 21, now in the hands of Sara Price, became the latest to succumb to steering arm failure moments into the second lap of the race.
Ganassi’s retirement opened the door for RXR to take the lead, while Mattias Ekström, who’d taken over the Abt Cupra machine, came home second in what was a conservative drive after losing the passenger side door on the car.
JBXE was classified third, despite also stopping on track, having covered more ground than Ganassi, which took the final classification of fourth ahead of X44.
The final was by no means the only dramatic race on Sunday. The first semifinal was won convincingly by Chip Ganassi Racing, which was the only team to make the finish after Andretti United and X44 collided at the start.
A post-race ruling dropped Andretti United to last in that race, giving second and a final berth to X44.
The second semifinal meanwhile had a full set of three finishers, with RXR dominating ahead of Abt Cupra and Acciona Sainz – which had yet another power steering failure during that race after dealing with similar issues multiple times earlier in the weekend.
The ‘crazy race’, which was to determine the fifth and final main event starter, was won by JBXE but the focus of that race was on Veloce Racing’s Stéphane Sarrazin – who suffered the biggest crash in the series to date.
Chasing down the leader on the second lap of the race after taking over from Emma Gilmour, Sarrazin suffered an awkward landing over a jump, which pitched his Odyssey 21 into a violent roll.
He was uninjured in the incident, but Veloce’s weekend was over instantly.
Xite Energy Racing also retired from the crazy race with mechanical failure.
Despite its retirement from the final X44 did gain five bonus points for being the fastest team through the ‘Traction Challenge’ section of the course during the weekend. Loeb went quickest through what was formerly known as the Super Sector during qualifying on Saturday.