Rosberg X Racing made history as first Extreme E winner at the inaugural race weekend in AlUla, Saudi Arabia. The final race of weekend saw Nico Rosberg’s Extreme-E team take on Lewis Hamilton‘s X44 team and Andretti United team.
Rosberg X Racing pair Johan Kristoffersson, a three-time World Rallycross champion, and Molly Taylor were the pace setters from the very beginning, but they still had to dig into the desert in order to fight their way to victory and and carve themselves out a piece of motorsport history.
After qualifying time trials on Saturday, the drivers went wheel-to-wheel for the first time, generating some of the most spectacular images ever seen in the sport and drawing widespread acclaim from competitors and fans alike.
Ultimately, nothing could stop Kristoffersson and Taylor from storming to the top step of the podium – not a 60-second penalty for exceeding the 30km/h limit in the driver switch zone yesterday, nor less favourable grid slots in both the semi-final and final on Sunday. It was a perfect display of speed, skill and superhuman car control in the most challenging of conditions.
As winners of the fan-led GridPlay vote, Andretti United, owned by McLaren Racing team boss Zak Brown, was elected to start from the starting spot for the final. Timmy Hansen duly plumped for pole position on the right, with Kristoffersson lining up in the middle for Rosberg X Racing and X44’s Sébastien Loeb taking up the third grid slot on the left.
Hansen replicated his lightning launch from the Crazy Race as Kristoffersson focussed his efforts on fending off Loeb for second, before employing the same tactic that had served him so well in the Semi-Final to sweep wide going into Turn One and undercut compatriot Hansen on the exit in a sensational switchback move.
The three-time FIA World Rallycross Champion then wasted no time at all in stretching his legs, as Hansen settled into second and Loeb – grappling with power steering problems – trailed behind the pair in third. Kristoffersson handed the car over to Taylor with a half-minute advantage, and whilst Munnings would go on to narrow the deficit slightly over the course of the second lap, the Australian always had the situation under control and wound up just over 23 seconds clear at the finish.
Hansen and Munnings completed a remarkable recovery for Andretti United following the team’s Saturday struggles, when a puncture in Qualifying had threatened to derail their weekend altogether.
After topping the timesheets at the end of Qualifying, Loeb and Gutiérrez ultimately completed the podium in third for X44, consistently losing time due to their power steering failure in the final.
- Rosberg X Racing (Johan Kristoffersson / Molly Taylor) 2 laps
- Andretti United (Timmy Hansen / Catie Munnings) +23.73s
- X44 (Sébastien Loeb / Cristina Gutiérrez) +1m38.09s
With the Desert X Prix now done-and-dusted, the cars will be loaded back onto the St. Helena – Extreme E’s floating centrepiece – to set sail for Lac Rose in Senegal, the setting for the Ocean X Prix on 29/30 May.
- Rosberg X Racing (Johan Kristoffersson / Molly Taylor) 35 points
- X44 (Sébastien Loeb / Cristina Gutiérrez) 30 points
- Andretti United (Timmy Hansen / Catie Munnings) 28 points
- ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team (Carlos Sainz / Laia Sanz) 26 points
- Hispano Suiza XITE Energy Team (Oliver Bennett / Christine Giampaoli Zonca) 20 points
- JBXE (Jenson Button / Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky) 17 points
- ABT Cupra XE (Mattias Ekström / Claudia Hürtgen) 13 points
- Segi TV Chip Ganassi Racing (Kyle LeDuc / Sara Price) 12 points
- Veloce Racing (Stéphane Sarrazin / Jamie Chadwick) 8 points