The 2022 Extreme E season may have comprised five rounds over 10 months, but the final race weekend packed in a year’s worth of action all at once.
Heading to Uruguay for the Energy X-Prix, it was almost a foregone conclusion that Rosberg X Racing would wrap up both titles as they had in the inaugural season. But an issue involving water getting into a vital component last time out in Chile meant that rivals Team X44, Acciona Sainz and Chip Ganassi Racing went into the finale still in touching distance.
After qualifying, the script changed once again, with RXR and X44 among a clutch of cars that suffered session-ending rolls in Q1. Further issues in Q2 meant that the points table-topping duo would begin the final day of the season in the Crazy Race – a last chance qualifier from which only one team would advance to the final.
That team was X44. Both began on an equal footing, but contact from Xite Energy Racing and then a shunt with JBXE left RXR with damaged steering.
The team repaired the damage during the mid-race driver switch, with the hope of sending Johan Kristoffersson out to snatch the five points for the fastest time through the Traction Challenge sector – points at that point held by X44. It was a bullet-proof plan in theory, until a rare error – the team having too many crew members in the switch zone during the repair – led to disqualification.
With that, the ball was in X44’s court, and with the five bonus traction challenge points pretty much secured going into the final, Sébastien Loeb and Cristina Gutiérrez needed to finish third in the final to claim the title.
But as this weekend had shown, XE rarely follows its own script.
Abt Cupra’s Nasser Al-Attiyah – who in Q2 on Saturday controversially took out RXR’s Kristoffersson in their heat race – stormed into an early lead, and one that he wouldn’t relinquish.
His pass on X44’s Loeb, in the second turn on lap one, opened the door for both McLaren and Andretti United to move up into the crucial podium places, and while Loeb was able to keep within touching distance of the third-placed Andretti car, high dust levels prevented him from getting back by Timmy Hansen.
When the female drivers took over the order remained the same, with Klara Andersson comfortably out in front for Abt, Emma Gilmour holding second for McLaren, and Catie Munnings resisting Gutiérrez to keep third.
As the race headed towards its conclusion, second through fourth were covered by just over two seconds, with X44 looking like they had just missed out on the title while RXR’s Kristoffersson and Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky – nervously watching from the pitlane – looked to have gained redemption in the most unlikely of ways.
That was until Andretti was slapped with a seven-second penalty for switch zone overspeeding. It dropped them behind X44, who now had the vital third place needed.
In a season where there was a new high of four different event winners from five rounds – including first-time winners Ganassi (Island X Prix I) and Abt – X44 took the teams’ title by two points over RXR. Acciona Sainz finished a relatively distant third, while Ganassi, rebounding from a trying 2021 season, was fourth, a further three points back.
Competing in not only its first XE campaign, but its first venture into off-road motorsport and electric racing, McLaren wound up fifth ahead of Abt, who enjoyed a late-season resurgence after the addition of Andersson in Chile.
Season one challengers Andretti wound up seventh in the final standings, and early-season title fighters Xite Energy Racing, JBXE and Veloce Racing rounded out the table.
Energy X-Prix result (4 laps)
1 Abt Cupra (Nasser Al-Attiyah/Klara Andersson) 10m26.0s
2 McLaren (Emma Gilmour/Tanner Foust) +3.42s
3 X44 (Sébastien Loeb/Cristina Gutiérrez) +5.46ss
4 Andretti United (Timmy Hansen/Catie Munnings) +11.02s
5 Veloce Racing (Kevin Hansen/Molly Taylor) +1 lap
1 X44 86 2 Rosberg X Racing 84 3 Acciona Sainz 68 4 Chip Ganassi Racing 61 5 McLaren 52 6 Abt 46 7 Andretti 45 8 Xite Energy Racing 33 9 JBXE 27 10 Veloce 18