X44 and Rosberg X Racing won the two Jurassic X-Prix semifinals on Sunday, ensuring the Extreme E title will be decided in the final race of the season.
It was a tight contest between X44 and JBXE in semifinal one, but X44 managed to claim the victory after making a great overtake in the driver switch area at the end of the second lap.
JBXE got off to a great start, getting the lead on X44 down into the first turn, and with a clear view ahead Kevin Hansen tried to create a gap between him and Sébastien Loeb.
Loeb did drop back by a few seconds early on but Hansen took the jump cautiously on the second lap, allowing X44’s Loeb to completely eradicate the gap between the pair.
As the two cars entered the driver switch zone, Loeb was tapping Hansen’s rear bumper and once the drivers had changed over, X44’s Cristina Gutiérrez managed to sneak out just in front of Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky.
“I did my best to be as close as possible [to Hansen]”, Loeb told DirtFish.
“I couldn’t be closer because I was touching his bumper I think. Then we did a good driver change and we ended just in front.”
Now ahead, Gutiérrez managed to keep her single lap clean and retained the lead, crossing the finish line 0.44 seconds ahead of JBXE.
While X44 and JBXE were entailed in a close battle for the entire race, the same could not be said for Veloce Racing.
Lance Woolridge spun early on into lap one and although he put in a valiant effort to close a 10s gap to Loeb down to four seconds before the driver switch, it wasn’t enough and Jamie Chadwick ended up finishing some way behind X44 and JBXE once she took over the car, bringing Veloce’s season to a premature end.
It was an entirely different tale for the second semifinal, with RXR taking a commanding victory to set up a title-deciding championship finale.
Johan Kristofferson got off to a strong start, leaving behind both the Acciona Sainz and Abt Cupra cars and never looked like losing the lead.
Meanwhile Carlos Sainz got slightly bogged down on his start, putting him last, but he quickly gained some momentum, and reclaimed second before the first turn.
From there, RXR managed to create a gap to Acciona Sainz and that gave Molly Taylor the opportunity to complete a conservative final lap to bring the car home first, 6.24s ahead of Acciona Sainz’s Laia Sanz.
Abt ended up finishing over a minute behind the pair after Mattias Ekström lost the front end bodywork on his car on the opening lap.
The bodywork flew over Ekström’s windscreen as he launched off the Knifepoint jump and although it didn’t immediately cost him much time, he was over 20s behind by the time he reached the driver switch and the team took longer than the mandatory 45s to release the car.
Abt was able to continue and Jutta Kleinschmidt did complete her one and only lap of the race, but she finished well over two minutes behind.
Semifinal 1 (3 laps)
1 Sébastien Loeb/Cristina Gutiérrez (X44) 9m23.480s
2 Kevin Hansen/Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky (JBXE) +0.404s
3 Lance Woolridge/Jamie Chadwick (Veloce Racing) +4.950s
Semifinal 2 (3 laps)
1 Johan Kristoffersson/Molly Taylor (Rosberg X Racing) 9m24.588s
2 Carlos Sainz/Laia Sanz (Acciona Sainz) +6.249s
3 Mattias Ekström/Jutta Kleinschmidt (Abt Cupra) +2m04.648s