Rosberg X Racing and JBXE shared the spoils in the semifinals for Extreme E’s Ocean X-Prix as Team X44 and Veloce Racing also advanced to the showpiece four-car final.
The first semifinal was a closely-fought affair right from the off. While Mattias Ekström got away cleanly for Abt Cupra, RXR’s Johan Kristoffersson and X44’s Sébastien Loeb immediately made contact as they squabbled over second place.
Loeb looked to have the advantage, saving his ‘hyperdrive’ boost for later on the beach straight than Kristoffersson, but in a move akin to his overtakes in the season opener, Kristoffersson took a massively wide line on the approach to the first corner, and used it to undercut the nine-time World Rally Champion to get by.
From then on Kristoffersson began to hunt down Ekström out in front, while Loeb also remained in view, with barely anything splitting the three drivers.
A heavy landing from the kicker by the circuit’s 24th gate looked to open the door for Loeb, but he couldn’t find a way past, and Kristoffersson once again pulled away from Loeb and hounded the bumper of Ekström.
Upon the return to the beach to complete the first lap, Ekström started to pull out a gap, giving Abt Cupra a seemingly clear advantage going into the driver change area. However, that was to be the undoing of their race as a radio issue meant that Jutta Kleinschmidt was late returning to the track, handing the lead to RXR’s Molly Taylor.
Inspired by Kristoffersson on lap one, X44’s Cristina Gutierrez got on the hyperdrive immediately and entered the first corner wide in a bid to pass Taylor, although this time around the move didn’t pay off.
She remained right on Taylor’s tail for the remainder of the lap, getting her best chance to pass in sector two at the drops before the Woods section, but couldn’t muscle her way past despite her best efforts.
Kleinschmidt meanwhile showed rapid pace and despite her delayed start, she soon closed up to the others. An extreme move off piste to experiment ‘hyperdrive’ for the final blast on the beach, second place and a spot in the final was secured despite the pit limiter coming in on corner exits.
The semifinal results mean that Abt Cupra and Xite Energy will be classified fifth and sixth for the event, with seventh through ninth being decided in a three-car shootout between Chip Ganassi Racing, Andretti United and Acciona Sainz ahead of the final.
Semifinal 1 results
1 Johan Kristoffersson/Molly Taylor (RXR) 11m05.029s
2 Sébastien Leob/Cristina Gutiérrez (X44) +2.262s
3 Mattias Ekström/Jutta Kleinschmidt (Abt Cupra) +3.242s
Semifinal 2 results
1 Kevin Hansen/Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky (JBXE) 11m24.00s
2 Jamie Chadwick/Stéphane Sarrazin (Veloce Racing) +29.703s
3 Oliver Bennett/Christine Giampaoli Zonca (Xite Energy) +33.241s
1 Kristoffersson/Taylor 46 2 Gutiérrez/Loeb 423 3 Bennett/GZ 37 4 Ekström 35 5 Timmy Hansen/Catie Munnings 33 6 Laia Sanz/Carlos Sainz 30 7 Åhlin-Kottulinsky 26 8 Kleinschmidt 22 9 Sara Price 18 10 Kyle LeDuc 17