Extreme E – Best battles in Sardinia
The Sardinian double-header promised us double the action and double the excitement. It delivered, showcasing some of the best wheel-to-wheel duels in Extreme E to date.
The narrow and intricate course on the Italian island encouraged some thrilling battles as the 20 world-class drivers pushed each other to the limit. We’ve picked out just three of our favourite duels from the action-packed double-header.
The first entry features two of the Championship’s Swedish drivers. RXR’s Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky and Genesys Andretti United Extreme E’s Timmy Hansen came head-to-head in the first Semi Final of the NEOM Island X Prix I in a battle with razor thin margins for the entire lap.
The Swedes both took the left-hand lane off the start, with Åhlin-Kottulinsky just ahead as the course converged. Entering the narrow track, the RXR driver went airborne as she forced her ODYSSEY 21 through some of the undergrowth in a bid to stay ahead of Hansen. Meanwhile XITE ENERGY Racing’s Tamara Molinaro, who took an alternate line from the start, managed to slot into second between the tussling Swedes.
Hansen’s experience came to the fore as he took a wide line to charge past the Italian and regain second place. The pace from his daring outside move was nearly enough to get him into first as Hansen attempted to cut through on the inside in the fast-approaching sharp left-hander, but Åhlin-Kottulinsky managed to shut the door.
The two continued to battle for the duration of the lap, with Hansen all over the back of the RXR car. Åhlin-Kottulinsky defended hard, at one point taking a big jump but she managed to wrestle her ODYSSEY back under control.
Ever opportunistic, Hansen then tried his favourite manoeuvre again, taking a wide line into a sharp left-hand turn and making it stick the second time around as he passed Åhlin-Kottulinsky on the inside to take the lead in the final stages of the lap.
Åhlin-Kottulinsky tried a similar to edge back in front of Hansen, demonstrating the kind of pace that eventually secured her the fourth fastest Continental Traction Challenge time. The Swede failed to replicate Hansen’s success though, and entered the Switch Zone in second place, leaving teammate Johan Kristoffersson to chase down and pass Catie Munnings to take the win.
Next on the list comes a memorable three-way battle, as the first Heat of Qualifying 2 in the NEOM Island X Prix II saw Kristoffersson face off against X44’s Sébastien Loeb and JBXE’s Kevin Hansen.
Again, the drivers threw down their gauntlets in the preferred left-hand lane as they launched off the start line.
Kristoffersson stormed ahead, with Loeb in second and Hansen in a close third as the three pushed their ODYSSEYs to the max in a bid to take the lead. For RXR, the stakes were high as they raced to secure the top spot in overall Qualifying ahead of nearest Championship challengers No.99 GMC Hummer EV Chip Ganassi Racing.
Loeb refused to let Kristoffersson pull away, matching the Swede for pace despite the difficulties that come with driving in the wake of another car. The Frenchman entered the first water splash practically level with Kristoffersson but despite the pressure from behind, the Swede managed to stay just in front as they entered the Switch Zone.
While the two WRC legends butted heads, Hansen kept the pair in his sights, setting up yet another exciting lap for their female counterparts as they handed over the wheel.
Needless to say, there was no shortage of breath-taking racing between the male and female drivers during the NEOM Island X Prix double-header. The second Crazy Race of the week saw Veloce Racing’s Lance Woolridge take on Catie Munnings and demonstrated that you don’t need overtaking for a thrilling spectacle.
Woolridge was the only driver in the Crazy Race, and this article, to take the right lane off the start line. This saw the South African flying across the track straight for Munnings as both ODYSSEYs entered the bottleneck.The drivers made contact as the track narrowed, with Munnings holding strong to force Woolridge into the undergrowth where the Veloce driver did well to keep his car under control.
Woolridge recovered excellently to resume his attack on Munnings, but the Brit worked hard to defend her position, shutting the door on the Veloce car as it tried to get through.
Great commitment from Munnings saw her carry the pace through the corners and maintain the lead for Genesys Andretti United Extreme E. In a last-ditch effort Woolridge tried to get round Munnings on a jump in the final stages of the first lap. Their cars came into contact as they landed, and this sent Woolridge off into a spin and out of contention.
The drive from Catie ensured a spot in the Final for her team which they converted into a third-place finish and their first podium of Extreme E Season 2.