Taylor and Munnings back random XE driver draw

Season-opener in Saudi Arabia lacked direct male versus female driver action intended for all-electric SUV series

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Desert X-Prix winner Molly Taylor and second-placed finisher Catie Munnings have welcomed an idea by Extreme E boss Alejandro Agag that could lead to a random draw dictating which order the male and female drivers complete the races in future.

Save for Hispano-Suiza’s qualifying run and Chip Ganassi Racing’s ill-fated shootout race, every team in every session opted to run their male driver first and their female second, meaning that there often wasn’t the diversification of competition that had been intended.

Format changes had already been made throughout the Desert X-Prix weekend as Saturday’s qualifying runs were changed to a time-trial format instead of a race due to lingering dust issues.

When asked in the post-event press conference if there was likely to be any further tweaks to the weekend format for the next race in Senegal, Agag said the shootout race – in particular when Kyle LeDuc was catching Claudia Hürtgen – was “one of the most exciting points of the weekend” as it was a male versus a female driver.

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“I loved the shootout,” he said.

“I’m thinking that maybe the teams and the drivers kill me [but] I do a draw, a lottery for who races, so we mix female and male drivers in all the races because otherwise we are seeing that the teams are lining up all the men at one point and the women second.

“I think about it, that’s just an idea but I think one of the most exciting points of the weekend was when Kyle was catching Claudia. Sadly for them they an impact but that’s also racing.”

Andretti United’s Munnings said that idea of randomizing the running order for each driver in each team is “exciting” and will “definitely stir the pot”.

“I was speaking to Alejandro earlier and he was sort of saying that the first part of the race is really exciting,” Munnings said.

Extreme E Preseason Testing
We have to leave the teams some rooms for tactics as well to be able to make a show Johan Kristoffersson

“You want it to be dramatic the whole way so I think a change like that to the sporting format would be exciting for everyone.

“We’d all have to be prepared for anything, I don’t know how close the draw would be to the start of the race but I think we were all kind of expecting it to happen at some point.

“It’ll definitely stir the pot I think, which is what everyone wants to see.”

Rosberg X Racing’s Taylor echoed Munnings’ sentiments but was wary that a decision dictating driver running order needed proper thought first.

“I think all those kinds of decisions are really probably a broader conversation and we’d have to have a look at all the impacts and how it’s working,” she said. “It’s difficult to have a full picture of how it’s all working.

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“I think it’s an incredible opportunity for us, if you look at the field the male drivers that we have here are the best in every motorsport category in world and so for me to sit here, to have that opportunity to learn from Johan [Kristoffersson] and be in that environment at that caliber, I think it’s an awesome opportunity for the female drivers that you have this investment in the development of female talent.

“But for sure you can’t sit here and say I have the same amount of experience as Johan,” she added, “so I think that process, we have work to do to develop and that’s why we’re here and that’s why we’re doing it.

“So it’s really positive and we need to keep fostering that in the best way.”

Taylor’s RXR team-mate Kristoffersson was more reserved on the matter however, warning that any such changes shouldn’t be to the detriment of the sporting integrity of the series.

“I think it’s also very very important that we try to keep the sport not making too many decisions about trying to make a show,” he said.

“We have to leave the teams some room for tactics as well to be able to make a show because all the spectators also understand if it’s too set from the beginning, so there needs to be a little room for it as well and I think particularly this track is maybe extraordinary because of the dust so the race was really over after the first couple of seconds in the final, or the first minute.

“But it would’ve been the same however we would have swapped drivers around, rear- and four-wheel drive, backwards, or drive the track the other way, it wouldn’t matter.

“So I think when it comes to the other places it might be different and not that much dust and it will be a fight all the way to the finish.”

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