Can anyone stop Rosberg X Racing claiming back-to-back Extreme E titles?
|After two wins from the first three X Prix in Extreme E Season 2, Rosberg X Racing (RXR) look well placed to secure their second Championship title in succession. Their nearest challengers, No.99 GMC HUMMER EV Chip Ganassi Racing and ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team, will be out to spoil the party at the upcoming Antofagasta Minerals Copper X Prix. Here’s the story of the trio’s campaigns so far.|
|RXR have proven to be the benchmark once again in Extreme E – accruing a dominant lead in the championship standings following two wins so far this season.
Despite a new driver line-up with Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky joining Nico Rosberg’s outfit alongside Johan Kristoffersson, there has been no change in speed out on course throughout the campaign.
Last year’s champions claimed a dramatic win at the season opener in NEOM, Saudi Arabia, with Kristoffersson making a last-gasp overtake on ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team’s Laia Sanz in the Desert X Prix Final to secure victory. Such was the sheer pace of Kristoffersson in the Final, RXR also claimed crucial five additional points by winning the Continental Traction Challenge in the team’s last lap of the weekend.
RXR were also the quickest out of the blocks in the NEOM Island X Prix double-header in Sardinia, co-organised by the Automobile Club d’Italia and Regione Sardegna. Åhlin-Kottulinsky and Kristoffersson topped Qualifying in the first event, and as a result, became the only team other than X44 Vida Carbon Racing to be the fastest qualifier at an Extreme E X Prix thus far.
That performance looked set to be their springboard to victory in the NEOM Island X Prix I. However, a collision with ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team’s Carlos Sainz Snr. in the Final led to a time-penalty, which meant despite finishing first on course, RXR dropped to third in the classification.
Following ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team’s right to review last month, the Automobile Club de Monaco (ACM) determined that RXR should receive a further penalty – consequently, the team classified fifth in NEOM Island X Prix I.
In spite of the team’s penalty following the first round of the Sardinian double-header, RXR’s reasserted their performance in the second – setting the pace once more in NEOM Island X Prix II to secure back-to-back top qualifier spots.
In a highly-anticipated NEOM Island X Prix II Final, RXR held second place at the halfway stage following a solid start by Kristoffersson. In the final lap of the Final, Åhlin-Kottulinsky turned on the style with a bold decisive pass on ABT CUPRA XE’s Jutta Kleinschmidt to seal a crucial victory and their second of the season.
RXR also claimed ten additional points for winning the Continental Traction Challenge at both NEOM Island X Prix events.
RXR’s nearest challengers in the standings are No.99 GMC HUMMER EV Chip Ganassi Racing, 32 points adrift with 43 points so far.
After a maiden campaign beset with bad lack, Sara Price and Kyle LeDuc returned for Season 2 with renewed vigour. A solid start to the season was achieved with a fourth place finish at the Desert X Prix earlier this year, which has proven to be a platform for the American outfit.
Hopes were high ahead of the NEOM Island X Prix double-header as Price and LeDuc qualified for the Final, with the team securing their spot via the Crazy Race after ABT CUPRA XE received a time-penalty.
Following the collision between Kristoffersson and Sainz Snr., No.99 GMC HUMMER EV Chip Ganassi Racing ran second and were poised for their best result in the series so far. A podium in Sardinia was desired more than ever after the team were denied victory at last year’s Enel X Island X Prix on the very last lap.
No.99 GMC HUMMER EV Chip Ganassi Racing’s Price trailed RXR in the Final on track to finish second amid jubilant celebrations. Their joy was made greater still following the announcement that RXR’s time-penalty promoted the American outfit to top spot, giving Chip Ganassi Racing their maiden Extreme E win.
Price and LeDuc were unable to match these exploits in the second part of the Sardinian double-header, though. Fifth place overall in Qualifying meant the team would take their place alongside RXR and ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team in Semi-Final 1, however contact and subsequent damage at the start ensured they would not qualify for their third Final of the season. Nevertheless, they will be gunning for more victories at the Antofagasta Minerals Copper X Prix in Chile.
Completing the top three in the standings are ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team.
Spanish duo Sainz Snr. and Sanz secured their best-ever Extreme E result in the season opener in NEOM and were very close to taking their maiden win until Kristoffersson’s superb late overtake on Sanz.
ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team started strongly in the NEOM Island X Prix double-header, qualifying for the Final in the first event, but were ruled out of contention almost immediately following contact with RXR.
This ensured the team finished fifth in the NEOM Island X Prix I Final, although were later promoted to fourth following RXR’s penalty. Sainz Snr. was taken to hospital for checks, but was considered fit to return to the course for the second event. After carrying out a huge rebuild following damage incurred following the first event, Sainz Snr. and Sanz bounced back superbly in the second part of the double-header by winning Qualifying 2 Heat 2, securing fourth overall in Qualifying.
After sealing a spot in the Final via Semi Final 1, ACCIONA | SAINZ XE Team were once again unable to show their true pace in the last race in Sardinia as Sainz Snr. stopped on track with a mechanical problem in the early stages.
With two new races on the Extreme E calendar to go, RXR look to be the firm favourites for back-to-back championship glory. However, a step in to the unknown in Chile may prove to be their nearest challengers’ best bet at reeling them in as Season 2 prepares for an exciting conclusion.