X44 has won the Copper X-Prix after a post-race penalty stripped McLaren of its maiden Extreme E victory.
In a dramatic final, it was the team of Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour that crossed the line first, but a brace of penalties for clipping waypoint flags dropped them to fifth.
McLaren, along with Abt Cupra, made the best starts in the final, but as all five entrants entered the first corner together, it was X44 that emerged ahead.
With all the male drivers starting the final, it was Sebastién Loeb that entered into an early lead. McLaren’s Foust quickly began hunting him down and Abt Cupra’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Carlos Sainz of Acciona Sainz battled over the remaining podium spot.
By the end of the second lap – this week’s races being four laps instead of two owing to a shorter course – Foust had closed the gap to Loeb, and snuck up the inside of the nine-time World Rally champion at Waypoint 18.
Loeb, however, was late on the brakes going into the switch zone, meaning the leading duo reached the halfway point side-by-side. That almost ended in disaster for McLaren with the X44 car blocking its path to its bay, but for quick thinking from Foust who signaled to Loeb, who duly moved out of the way.
At the beginning of the second stanza of the final, Cristina Gutierrez used her hyperdrive boost to retake the lead at the beginning of lap three. She went on to hit the flag at Waypoint 13, which would have seemingly cost her team the win, but news of a penalty for Mclaren for Foust clipping a flag on his second lap appeared to level both.
That was until news came through that X44 wouldn’t receive a penalty, with the flag they hit not falling. Gilmour went on to retake the lead towards the end of lap four, but with the penalty to be applied – as well as a second for anther dropped flag – the race win ended up not counting.
After Mclaren was relegated down the order, second went the way of Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kyle LeDuc and Sara Price, completing a remarkable turnaround for the team that shouldn’t have even been in the final.
However Ganassi then also got a penalty for missing Waypoint 11 on lap 3, provisionally dropping the team to fourth.
A software issue for Rosberg X Racing meant that the reigning champion team missed the deadline to make the grid of the final and didn’t appear in it for the first time in Extreme E history. Its absence ensured that the championship fight carries over to the final round in Uruguay in November, although McLaren’s five bonus points for setting the fastest Traction Challenge sector also prevented RXR from going back-to-back with a round to spare.
That wasn’t the end of the final drama however, as Acciona Sainz’s Laia Sanz finished third (later to become second) with three tires after a bruising race-long battle with Abt Cupra’s Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson, an impressive late substitute for the injured Jutta Kleinschmidt.
RXR had begun the weekend by topping qualifying, going fastest in the single-car runs on Saturday morning, while finishing second in its heat race in the afternoon – the Q2 heats being won by Andretti United and Acciona Sainz.
RXR and X44 once again shared the semifinal spoils, RXR leapfrogging Acciona Sainz during the driver switch to take a lead that would go unchallenged. Acciona Sainz meanwhile, having led the early portion of the race, held on for the second transfer spot, edging Andretti United by 0.3 seconds at the line.
The second of the semis had X44 take a relatively trouble-free victory, and a bold pass from Andersson on Chip Ganassi Racing’s Sara Price set Abt Cupra up to advance as well.
The Crazy Race very much lived up to its moniker, with the final result coming some time after the race’s conclusion thanks to a number of investigations throughout the field.
The battle for the lead was between McLaren and JBXE, Gilmour holding the advantage over Kevin Hansen until she ran wide, letting the World Rallycross regular through at the end of the first lap.
After the driver change, Foust set about reeling in Hedda Hosås to get the lead back for McLaren. He instantly reeled the youngster in, and after a mistake from Hosas at Waypoint 12 on lap three, was right on her tail.
He had a look five gates later, and as both went over the jump there, their differing lines brought both cars together resulting in both spinning off-course and missing the next waypoint.
The collision opened the door for Xite Energy Racing to climb up to second, but the team would later drop to third post-race after getting penalties for missing a waypoint and causing a collision with the Veloce Racing entry which crawled to the finish with a broken rear-right toe link.
McLaren and JBXE also got penalties for their missing the 18th waypoint, but that proved of little consequence with McLaren keeping the win and the resulting berth in the final.
Copper X-Prix result (4 laps)
1 X44 (Cristina Gutiérrez/Sébastien Loeb) 8m59.728s
2 Acciona Sainz (Carlos Sainz/Laia Sanz) +6.093s
3 Abt Cupra (Klara Andersson/Nasser Al-Attiyah) +8.612s
4 Chip Ganassi Racing (Kyle LeDuc/Sara Price) +10.159s
5 McLaren (Emma Gilmour/Tanner Foust) +18.935s
1 Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky/Johan Kristoffersson 68 2 Gutiérrez/Loeb 66 3 Sainz/Sanz 60 4 Price/LeDuc 55 5 Timmy Hansen/Catie Munnings 33 6 Tamara Molinaro 29 7 Gilmour/Foust 29 8 Kevin Hansen 25 9 Hedda Hosås 24 10 Timo Scheider 21