Rosberg X Racing teammates Johan Kristoffersson and Molly Taylor reigned supreme once more at Extreme E’s second event in Lac Rose, Dakar, Senegal with the ever-impressive duo overcoming intense pressure from their adversaries to be crowned winners of the first-ever Ocean XPrix.
Extreme E backed up its dramatic curtain-raising Desert X Prix at the beginning of April by delivering even more spectacular moments and overtakes against the stunning backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean.
It was low tide but high drama in the grand final with two of the four cars retiring at the first corner, that left Rosberg X Racing to extend their championship lead and Veloce Racing to snatch a surprise result, bouncing back from their disastrous Desert X Prix.
The tight and technical Ocean X Prix course was a hit with the all-star field of Extreme E drivers and yielded close racing and several options for alternate routes which were deployed throughout the two days of competition.
It was Segi TV Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kyle LeDuc that took the Super Sector title, earning an extra five points for his team setting the fastest time of 1m50.891s – 1.289 seconds ahead of X44’s Sébastien Loeb.
Nico Rosberg, Founder and CEO of Rosberg X Racing, said: “I’m so happy for us as a team to have won in Extreme E for the second time. Two out of two – wow!
“You know, it’s not to be underestimated the challenge that was out there this weekend. It’s so difficult because no one really understands the cars properly, as you don’t get a chance to test them. So, you have to guess and figure things out – as a team, we’re really trying to bring a Formula One approach to Extreme E here which is really helping us a team to perform. It’s been an amazing team effort, we just kept building it up through the weekend. And it’s so cool as well that in AlUla, it was Johan that very much did it at the start and Molly followed on, but today it’s Molly that made the magic in the final and then Johan brought it home – such a brilliant dynamic which really underlines the topic of equality which is one of the things that this championship is based on – that’s fantastic to see.
“The race format here has been a big step forward from AlUla in terms of development for race excitement – but it’s still early stages and there’s still a way to go. One needs to analyse again, and I think we keep on seeing more and more glimpses of such awesome motor racing and this will continue to evolve into a super spectacle the more we go on. Remember, nobody’s ever done this before, and you have to be openminded and accept that you are going to learn and make it more and more exciting each time.
“I love this whole championship and being in the role of team principal – I’m still as competitive as hell even though I’m not actually driving.. Anyway, we have the two best drivers in the car who are doing a much better job than I could – and I couldn’t be happier!”
Drama unfolded before the first corner in the Ocean X prix grand Final as GridPlay winners Veloce Racing opted to start on the third grid slot, but the advantage was quickly lost as Stéphane Sarrazin was squeezed out at the first gate dropping back to last position.
JBXE’s Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky picked up rear-wheel damage before she even reached the first corner and inevitably was forced to retire the car, as was Cristina Gutiérrez in the X44 car who came to blows with the Rosberg X Racing ODYSSEY 21 – in an incident reminiscent of the two Formula 1 World Champions on-track disputes in 2016 – at turn one and ended her day on the sidelines.
Molly Taylor and Sarrazin were therefore left to duke it out for the lead, with the Frenchman closing the gap throughout the lap and ending his stint hot on the heels of the 2016 Australian Rally Champion.
To ensure officials could safely clear the stricken X44 and JBXE cars, a brief red flag was deployed, as the intense battle for the lead was put on hold whilst the drivers made their way into the switch zone.
A standing start restart was initiated as Jamie Chadwick and Johan Kristoffersson prepared for an all or nothing, one-lap showdown.
A close-fought drag race down to the first gate ended with light contact between the two ODYSSEY 21s handing Kristoffersson the advantage. Once he had reached the technical section of the course, the three-time FIA World Rallycross Champion began to stretch his legs opening up a 15-second advantage to win Rosberg X Racing’s second Extreme E X prix in succession.
Molly Taylor, Rosberg X Racing driver, said: “It’s so fantastic to have won today! Coming here, it felt like we had a lot of work to do over the weekend, and it certainly didn’t come easy, but with every session we just kept our heads down and just saw where we needed to improve, and everything totally paid off in the end.
“It’s difficult to predict anything in Extreme E even when you have the best laid plan, but the team was awesome, and Johan really did a phenomenal job too.
“Obviously, we didn’t get to choose our grid position for the final, so we were where we were and that for me was on the inside, so it was all about trying to get the track position – I really just tried to get that established as early as I could and then hold onto it. It’s a steep bank and pretty tight coming into turn one, and as I went through, I made some contact, but this is close racing and that can happen.
“A really huge thanks to the team who did an incredible job and to Johan, equally incredible.
“I’m just really delighted to have won and it’s been an amazing weekend!”
Johan Kristoffersson, Rosberg X Racing driver, added: “I’m super happy to be Extreme E winners for the second time! Molly executed everything perfectly, she did an amazing job taking care of the traffic in her lap – I was really impressed with that. The team also did a fantastic job, I have to say a big thanks to them for bringing me and Molly up to speed over the weekend, as we really weren’t the fastest coming into this event but in the end, we were quick where we needed to be and got good starts, so we couldn’t wish for more than that. It’s very important as well to keep the car in one piece as you get heavily penalised if you aren’t able to finish a race – so that in itself can be challenging as the racing is close here and there’s always the possibility of contact plus of course there’s the terrain which is hard on the cars – but it all makes for a great spectacle which is great.
“When I got in the car for the standing start for the final, the steering was a little bit off, so when I hit hyperdrive early on, it was a struggle to hold on to it – unfortunately this led to a bit of contact with Jamie which was not intentional at all. But from there on, the car was working really well, and I could do what I needed to do. And here we are as winners – happy Days!”