A clean getaway will be more important than ever in Sunday’s first ever Extreme E races at the inaugural Desert X-Prix.
Originally, the format had been set to run four and five-car grids in the qualifying races, but that plan was dropped on safety grounds with the teams favouring the move to a time-trial approach with the cars running both qualifying sessions alone.
Asked why running a race format on Sunday would be safer, XE founder Alejandro Agag told DirtFish:
“The teams and we all agree that with three cars it will be OK. With five cars it could be tricky for the dust, but it should be OK like this. Like I told you, we have to be ready to evolve all of the time. We are learning this thing and we need to not be afraid to change if there is a better way.”
Even with three cars, the drivers are still resigned to the dust being a significant factor in deciding the outcome of the race.
“For me, the race will be between here and maybe not the first corner, after that is a long straight, so maybe a bit further,” Carlos Sainz told DirtFish.
“I think the first gate and then I think it’s finished. I think the dust will be playing a role and that is why I say more technique and more places with camel grass [a shrubby herb that grows in the desert] and more dunes maybe we have some places that will allow the cars to run in parallel more.”
Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button, who like Sainz is a team owner and a driver in XE, was thinking along the same lines, but he felt the race might run a little bit longer.
“I know what the drivers mean,” he said. “I think it’ll be by turn two – the end of the back straight. After you make that [left] turn, the dust will be bad.”
Sunday’s format will include four races, starting with the semi-final at 7:30am local time. The ‘Crazy Race’ and shootout follow before XE’s first ever points-scoring final that decides the Desert X-Prix winner at 2:45pm.