Rosberg X Racing made it three wins from four races at the Island X Prix to build a commanding championship lead in the inaugural Extreme E season.
RXR drivers Johan Kristoffersson and Molly Taylor kept their heads in changeable conditions to seal a dramatic victory in Sardinia ahead of ABT CUPRA XE, who secured their best result of the season in second.
It was heartbreak, though, for long-time leaders in the Final, Chip Ganassi Racing, after Sara Price’s crash on Lap 2 caused terminal damage and meant she had to stop on track, ensuring the team could only finish as high as fourth in their finals debut.
That meant JBXE were able to secure their third podium finish in succession with third place despite also suffering damage out on the course.
Bad luck once again befell fastest qualifiers X44 in the final as Sébastien Loeb was forced to stop out on track and retire with broken steering. Loeb was running in second behind SEGI TV’s Kyle LeDuc despite driving with a slow puncture at the time of the stoppage, which meant the team were to fall even further behind winners and championship leaders RXR in the standings.
“It was pretty slippery out there, so it was a bit difficult to judge at first,” commented Molly Taylor. “From that point it was just trying to manage the risk and I think that is what we did really well. Johan brought it home and again it was just an amazing effort by all of the team. We had a very challenging weekend from our side, but we never gave up and are very happy to be the winners here.”
A heavy downpour prior to lights out made for the first ‘wet’ Final of the Extreme E season, providing the five finalists with a new challenge to overcome in their bid for victory at the Enel X Island X Prix.
X44 were able to take their place in the Final despite suffering heavy damage in the opening Semi-Final of the day. In a sign of the unique camaraderie demonstrated across the Extreme E paddock, X44’s efforts to rebuild their damaged car were boosted by the support of mechanics and engineerings from the Andretti United Extreme E team to get their ODYSSEY 21 ready successfully in time for the Enel X Island X Prix showpiece
In treacherous conditions four of the five teams were able to get off the start line cleanly, although ABT CUPRA XE were left with plenty of work to do after Jutta Kleinschmidt stalled on the grid. It looked like X44 had staged a remarkable comeback to lead into the first corner, but were beaten spectactularly by LeDuc who managed to get in front after using the alternate route.
A spin for Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky put JBXE at the back of the field, while the slow-starting Kleinschmidt quickly made up ground on RXR’s Taylor to battle for third. This soon became a three-way tussle for second as Loeb began to lose pace as he struggled with a slow puncture, allowing LeDuc to build an impressive lead out in front.
After Loeb was forced to retire with broken steering, Taylor and Kleinschmidt remained nose-to-tail in their battle for second as they headed towards the Driver Switch zone.
As LeDuc exited his SEGI TV Chip Ganassi Racing car in the Driver Switch zone following a superb opening lap, it appeared the so-far luckless team were about to complete a heroic turnaround and bring home their first Extreme E win. However, they were cruelly denied as Price suffered terminal damage to her car after making contact with a rock out on the course, which ruled them out of contention for victory and meant they could only finish as high as fourth.
This left RXR’s Kristoffersson in the lead and chased by Mattias Ekström, who continued on at great speed despite driving without his left-hand door throughout the lap.
The ABT CUPRA XE driver was no match for Kristoffersson, though, who kept up the pressure to extend his lead and take RXR’s third win of the campaign and put his team as the firm favourites for championship glory at the final Extreme E X Prix of the season in Dorset, UK, in December.
Rosberg X Racing (Molly Taylor / Johan Kristoffersson) 2 laps (11.42)
ABT Cupra XE (Jutta Kleinschmidt / Mattias Ekström) +24.58s
JBXE (Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky / Kevin Hansen) +1 lap
SEGI TV Chip Ganassi Racing (Kyle LeDuc / Sara Price) +1 lap
X44 (Sébastien Loeb / Cristina Gutiérrez) +2 laps