Over the Easter weekend, the spectacular new Extreme E off-road racing series celebrated its premiere in the desert of Saudi Arabia. Right from the first moment, Extreme E very much lived up to its name. At an oasis around 150 kilometres south-west of Tayma and 400 kilometres north-west of Medina, the teams delivered some thrilling motorsport from the get-go against a breathtaking backdrop. When Sébastien Loeb wrote his name into the history books of Extreme E, becoming the world’s first driver of an ODYSSEY 21 racing car to start an official qualifying session, it was obvious that every start in Al-Ula is make-or-break. The challenging track demanded the nine-time World Rally Champion – and all drivers – to deploy the utmost of their abilities.
“We’ve all been looking forward to this moment with huge anticipation,” says Sandra Roslan, who is responsible for the project at Continental, the founding partner and tyre supplier. “We’ve been completely amazed – by the races, the breathtaking images and, of course, by the tyres our engineers developed for the nine teams. The CrossContact Extreme E worked fantastically and delivered the performance we expected under the difficult desert conditions. The acceleration rates the tyres were capable of are impressive considering the soft and sometimes deep sand. They even converted the extreme additional thrust of the hyperboosts perfectly into propulsion. It was quite remarkable how Timmy Hansen took pole position in the final, thanks to the additional acceleration, before being outmanoeuvred by Johann Kristoffersson before the first way marker.”
In the competition between motorsport giants from very distinct disciplines, two different scenes unfolded at the weekend. When the teams took to the track in the individual qualifying round on Saturday, X44 and Acciona | Sainz XE took pole position, with world rally champions Sébastien Loeb and Carlos Sainz as the starting drivers. In the gripping head-to-head during the semi-final and in the Crazy Race, Andretti United Extreme E and Rosberg X Racing took top spot on Sunday with rallycross champions Timmy Hansen and Johan Kristoffersson. The third team to qualify for the final was Lewis Hamilton’s X44. Although Timmy Hansen took pole in the exciting final, he had to relinquish the lead to Johan Kristoffersson even before the first way marker. The Swede maintained his lead until the driver changed to Molly Taylor. The 32-year-old Australian then defended her lead confidently and crossed the finish line ahead of Catie Munnings and Cristina Gutiérrez.
In the first overall ranking in the history of Extreme E, team Rosberg X Racing, comprising of Johan Kristoffersson and Molly Taylor, sits ahead of Sébastien Loeb and Cristina Gutiérrez with team X44. Timmy Hansen and Catie Munnings are in third place with team Andretti United. Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton’s X44 team is ahead of Andretti United despite a poorer performance in the final because of the way points are already awarded during qualifying in Extreme E.
The next race will be on May 29 and 30 with the Ocean X Prix in Senegal. On the banks of Lac Rosé, the pack will be completely reshuffled, with the teams will not only facing completely different climatic conditions, but also completely new driving challenges.
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