Nasser Al-Attiyah & Carlos Sainz Snr. rivalry continues in Extreme E
Tensions were high between Carlos Sainz Snr. and his long-time Dakar Rally rival Nasser Al-Attiyah at the Extreme E season opener in NEOM, Saudi Arabia, after the pair’s collision during Qualifying.
In the first of the new five-car Heats, series debutant Al-Attiyah passed Sainz Snr. on the inside, but the ABT CUPRA XE driver’s pace caused him to miss a checkpoint flag. In recovering, the Qatari collided with Sainz Snr. as the Spaniard brought his damaged ODYSSEY 21 back to the Switch Zone before retiring from the Qualifying heat.
After the Stewards reviewed the collision, ABT CUPRA XE were penalised for missing a way point and for colliding with an opponent. The team were deducted two Intermediate Classification points and classified last of the four runners in the Heat, with Veloce Racing unable to contend following Christine GZ’s accident the day before, leaving ABT CUPRA XE to battle it out in the Crazy Race for a spot in the Final.
Sainz Snr. and his ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team had the last laugh despite the heavy collision though, as alongside team-mate Laia Sanz they finished second overall in the Desert X Prix for their best result in Extreme E so far.
Carlos Sainz Snr., ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team, said: “I didn’t have much to say to Nasser after the clash. He ran wide and missed a flag; I was on the line and he hit me hard.
“Physically I was fine, my hand and neck were a bit painful, but I took some anti-inflammatory, and all was good. I am used to so many hits with this kind of off-road racing that I always keep good medicines in my bag!”
This isn’t the first time the two drivers have been at close quarters on track, with both battling out for supremacy in the Dakar Rally for more than a decade.
Despite the two being teammates at Volkswagen in the past and with four Dakar wins each, the stakes could not be higher between Sainz Snr. and Al-Attiyah. Could Extreme E Season 2 see things boil over?
Nasser Al-Attiyah, ABT CUPRA XE, said: “It was a nice week for me. I learnt a lot, but I did make a few mistakes at the beginning.
“I’m sorry for my little mistake in the first qualifying session, but I’ve learned a lot and soaked up every minute in this new championship. We know what we’re capable of and we’re looking forward to the next race.
“We showed the speed, and this is very important, and I am sure next race we can be strong and do a much better job.”
Following the first X Prix of the season, ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team sit in second place with 18 points after a strong performance in the Desert X Prix Final. Meanwhile a second-place finish for ABT CUPRA XE in the Crazy Race sees the team down in eighth place with four points. With the remainder of the season to come, this rivalry will be one to keep an eye out for.