Veloce steals the show in Energy X Prix Qualifying Round 2 as leaders fall

Saturday’s Energy X Prix qualifying shook up the Extreme E championship picture some more. After Rosberg X Racing and X44 Vida Carbon Racing, who comprise the top two in the standings, rolled in single-car qualifying, both were marred by poor finishes in the second round that relegated both to the bottom of the weekend standings. ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team, the only other team with a mathematical shot at the title, conversely has much of the momentum entering Sunday as do Veloce Racing.

Despite having a new driver pairing in Kevin Hansen and Molly Taylor for the Energy X Prix and beyond, Veloce finished second in Round #1 of qualifying before winning Heat #2 ahead of JBXE. When combined, their nineteen points in the classification scored them their first qualifying victory and makes them the first team not named X44 or RXR to win the session overall since the series’ inception.

“It’s been a fantastic day,” said Hansen. “We did a really good job with the set up and driving improvement, and I think we could see that in the first qualifying. We stayed clean all the way through and had good pace, just half a second off P1. In the second round, we kept cool. We had a great position going into it and got a lead after the first lap and had a generally good run. We just need to make a few small improvements for tomorrow, but I think we can be really happy with this first day.”

Hansen and Taylor notched their first career XE qualifying victories, though Taylor previously won Round #2 at the 2021 Arctic X Prix as an RXR driver.

“[Veloce is] a great team and we’re having a great time, so to have a first day like this has been really encouraging,” offered Taylor. “There is still a lot of work to do on my side, but all in all we’ve been able to push where we could and manage where we needed to. Now we’re really looking forward to tomorrow.”

After winning the first round, ACCIONA | Sainz placed second in Heat #1 behind Andretti United XE. It is Andretti’s second heat win after the season opener in Saudi Arabia.

However, much of the drama surrounded RXR and X44. X44 ran in podium position early on before Sébastien Loeb elected to drop to the rear for clean air, which seemed to work albeit at the cost of a strong finish. Cristina Gutiérrez finished fourth in the X44 machine ahead of XITE Energy Racing. However, even if the team has found a strategy to use, they still face an uphill battle as Gutiérrez’s rollover in Round #1 revealed the car’s chassis does not meet regulations, and X44 must serve a five-second penalty in the Crazy Race.

RXR’s day came to an abrupt end when Johan Kristoffersson spun after contact from behind by Nasser Al-Attiyah, and the resulting damage proved terminal. With RXR out of the picture, Al-Attiyah’s ABT CUPRA XE team-mate Klara Andersson held off Taylor for the win but the incident resulted in a thirty-second penalty that relegated the team to fourth.

“It was a difficult start to the weekend for our team,” reads a statement from RXR. “We were hit with our first unfortunate setback in Q1 when our Odyssey 21’s back wheels dug into the grass after an intricate corner, causing Mikaela to roll, despite her best efforts to prevent it.

“The team worked incredibly hard to rebuild our vehicle, so it was ready for Q2. But despite Johan starting Q2 with an impressive lead, we ended with a DNF after a collision with ABT CUPRA XE caused our car to spin and later cut out before entering the switch zone.

“While we end the day last in the standings, not all hope is lost for our team. Should we win tomorrow’s Crazy Race, we still have a chance to clinch the championship title!”

Classification

Rank Team Round #1 Points Round #2 Points Total Points Placement
1 Veloce Racing 9 10 19 Semi-Final #1
2 ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team 10 8 18 Semi-Final #2
3 Andretti United XE 6 10 16 Semi-Final #2
4 Chip Ganassi Racing 8 6 14 Semi-Final #1
5 ABT CUPRA XE 7 4 11 Semi-Final #1
6 McLaren XE 5 6 11 Semi-Final #2
7 JBXE 0 8 8 Crazy Race
8 XITE Energy Racing 4 2 6 Crazy Race
9 X44 Vida Carbon Racing 0 4 4 Crazy Race
10 Rosberg X Racing 0 0 0 Crazy Race

Qualifying Round #2 results

Heat #1 results

Finish Number Team Total Time Driver #1 Driver #2
1 23 Andretti United XE 10:22.885* Timmy Hansen Catie Munnings
2 55 ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team 10:25.983 Carlos Sainz Laia Sanz
3 99 Chip Ganassi Racing 10:36.085 Sara Price RJ Anderson
4 44 X44 Vida Carbon Racing 11:00.424 Sébastien Loeb Cristina Gutiérrez
5 42 XITE Energy Racing 11:24.543 Ezequiel Pérez Companc Tamara Molinaro
* – Received a penalty

Heat #2 results

Finish Number Team Total Time Driver #1 Driver #2
1 5 Veloce Racing 10:28.323 Kevin Hansen Molly Taylor
2 22 JBXE 10:30.806 Fraser McConnell Hedda Hosås
3 58 McLaren XE 10:53.153 Tanner Foust Emma Gilmour
4 125 ABT CUPRA XE 10:55.479* Nasser Al-Attiyah Klara Andersson
5 6 Rosberg X Racing DNF Johan Kristoffersson Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky