X44’s Loeb and Gutiérrez dominate Sardinia XE day one

Lewis Hamilton's team is a class apart on another highly eventful day of Extreme E action


Team X44 continued its domination of Saturdays in Extreme E by sweeping qualifying for the Island X-Prix in Sardinia.

Lewis Hamilton’s team ended the opening session first with a gap of 12.28 seconds over Acciona Sainz after a barnstorming run from Sébastien Loeb, who helped the team recover from a spin by Cristina Gutiérrez during its opening lap.

X44 followed that up with a routine run in the second qualifying session, with a time just under 20s quicker than its interrupted morning effort.

Championship leader Rosberg X Racing secured second overall despite having both its Q1 and Q2 runs disrupted.

In the morning session Molly Taylor suffered a roll on the team’s second lap, but her quick recovery allied with issues for other teams meant that RXR still hung on for sixth overall at that point.

Taylor had no such issues in the afternoon, and after she handed the car over to Johan Kristoffersson the team looked to be on course for second before a late puncture that slowed the three-time World Rallycross champion.

That dropped Taylor and Kristoffersson to third for the session, which still gave them enough qualifying points to lock in second overall and pole for the second of Sunday’s semi-finals.

Jutta Kleinschmidt (GER)/Mattias Ekstrom (SWE), ABT CUPRA XE

Third went the way of Abt Cupra, with Mattias Ekström ahead by 0.95s at the end of his first lap in the morning before ending up fourth.

A spin for Ekström in the afternoon derailed any chance he and team-mate Jutta Kleinschmidt had of a qualifying win, but their results gave them an equal number of qualifying points to RXR, just missing out on second in the classification due to RXR’s better individual result.

Acciona Sainz’s strong morning performance was hampered by a DNF in second qualifying, Laia Sanz being one of several drivers to be hit by a steering issue.

Continuing its trend of horrendous luck this season, Chip Ganassi Racing failed to complete a single lap in Q1 after Sara Price suffered suspension failure in a collision with a hidden rock.

The team more than made up for it in Q2 however, with the second-fastest time overall.

Kyle LeDuc opted for a differing line off the start, going right down the middle of ‘The Lanes’ section where others preferred to take a far-left approach.

Sara Price (USA)/Kyle Leduc (USA), Segi TV Chip Ganassi Racing

Andretti United took sixth after a troubled Q1. Timmy Hansen lost power steering over the first bump on the team’s opening lap, resulting in a difficult first loop.

In fact, the 2019 World RX champ aggravated an old shoulder injury while wrestling the car around the course, dislocating it three times as he fought to keep his car under control.

A quick reset of the car’s systems during the driver change meant a much easier run for team-mate Catie Munnings, and Andretti followed that with a trouble-free fourth-fastest run in Q2.

Making up the line-up for the ‘Crazy Race’ on Sunday will be JBXE, Veloce Racing, and Xite Energy Racing, which locked out positions seven through nine. The winner of this race joins the four qualifiers from the semis in the final field.

JBXE’s routine run in the first session was followed by a half-spin for Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky in the afternoon that slowed her and team-mate Kevin Hansen considerably.

Veloce Racing’s Emma Gilmour and Stéphane Sarrazin had a strong run in the morning, but a steering arm failure during Sarrazin’s afternoon lap resulted in a DNF for the team.

Xite Energy Racing meanwhile had a similar failure in the morning, and then was hit with a penalty for Oliver Bennett missing gate 19 in the afternoon session.