September 25, 2022

Rosberg X Racing earned its first-ever Extreme E qualifying result at the first of two Island X Prix, ending the X44 team’s unbeaten qualifying run despite a late charge from the Lewis Hamilton-backed team.

The Nico Rosberg-owned outfit dominated the first timed session, before adding a victory in the first five-car race.

Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Johan Kristoffersson’s combined two-lap time in Q1 of 9 minutes 13.966 seconds was almost 12 seconds faster than Acciona Sainz’s Laia Sanz and Carlos Sainz, while Andretti United’s Caite Munnings and Timmy Hansen were the third fastest.

Abt Cupra Dakar veterans Jutta Kleinschmidt and Nasser Al-Attiyah finished fourth, with XITE Energy Racing’s Tamara Molinaro and Timo Scheider rounding out the top five. JBXE’s Hedda Hosas and Kevin Hasen finished sixth and last of the runners without a problem.

Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez of X44 completed the first part of qualifying, but only after Loeb lost the right rear tire after landing on the side of the jump just after Waypoint 15. He brought the car back into the switch zone , losing bodywork along the way, and after a delayed tire change, Gutierrez finished the session.

McLaren and Veloce Racing both suffered the same fate in Q1, with a bump on the course leading to mechanical failures to the front right of both cars.

Veloce’s Woolridge was the first to fall, bending an upper arm, which set off a chain reaction of further breakages to the front right of the car. McLaren’s Tanner Foust suffered an almost identical failure later in the session, stopping two gates later than the South African.

RXR then backed up their dominating Q1 win with a routine win in their Q2 heat.

Kristoffersson took an early lead, with X44’s Gutierrez battling first, before falling back. That left Andretti United’s Munnings and XITE Energy Racing’s Scheider battling it out for second place. Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kyle LeDuc also played a role in this battle before stopping at Waypoint 8. This stoppage came after an engine failure in Q1 made a difficult day for the team worse.

Munnings held off Scheider first, with the German looking at the 21st Waypoint. Munnings remained resolute, but ran wide two gates later. She maintained her position, however, but at the opening of the course, Scheider finally managed to get out of it at 26 years old.

At the change of direction, Kristoffersson handed the RXR car over to Ahlin-Kottulinsky with a 12.34-second advantage. The X44 entry, now driven by Loeb, began to hunt down the XITE and Andretti cars, now driven by Molinaro and Hansen respectively.

A slow zone between Waypoints 7-9 provided the pivotal moment of the race, when Loeb took power ahead of Hansen, seizing the opportunity to gain a place. Loeb was initially under investigation for the move, but no action was taken, despite protests from Hansen and teammate Munnings.

Loeb’s charge continued, taking an alternate line to Waypoint 21, and while Molinaro used his Hyperdrive boost before that, Loeb saved his until he was through two gates later.

Tamara Molinaro / Timo Scheider, Xite Energy Racing, leads Cristina Gutierrez / Sébastien Loeb, Team X44. Colin McMaster/Motorsport Pictures

At the end of the race, Loeb and X44 finished 9.02 seconds behind RXR’s Ahlin-Kottulinsky, with Molinaro retaining third and Andretti’s Hansen fourth.

Round two was won by Acciona Sainz in the same way, with Sainz taking the best start of the field.

Foust challenged the rally legend early on before slipping past Christine Giampaoli Zonca and Veloce’s Nasser Al-Attiyah, to reclaim second place using an alternate line to the Veloce and Abt duo.

Sainz and Foust quickly took the lead, although the former still held a 5.94-second lead at the halfway switch. With Foust switching to Gilmour, McLaren quickly lost second place with Woolridge controversially passing the Papaya machine in the switch zone.

This leading trio held their place until the end of the race, Sanz finishing 6.18 seconds ahead of Woolridge, with Gilmour just over four seconds behind him having been unable to find a way through the dust.

A late dash from JBXE’s Kevin Hansen meant he finished just 0.23 seconds behind Gilmour, with Kleinschmidt the remaining finisher.

With the points from the two qualifying sessions combined and the top six riders qualifying for the semi-finals (first, fourth and fifth for the first semi-final, second, third and sixth for the second), RXR, Andretti United and XITE will challenge the first of these tomorrow.

Acciona Sainz, Abt Cupra and X44 will race in the second, with the remaining team going head-to-head in the “Crazy Race”. The top two from each semi-final will advance to the final, with the winner of the Crazy Race joining them for a five-car main event.