Rosberg Extreme are the very first Desert X-Prix winners! Extreme E’s first finals day promised plenty after two enthralling qualifying sessions yesterday suggested there will be entertainment when the cars finally go wheel-to-wheel, and the final day was absorbing.
The brand new motorsport series is making its debut in AlUla, Saudi Arabia, one of five extreme environments over the year chosen not only for the remarkable landscape – think the Amazon rainforest and the Arctic ice – but also for their susceptibility to the climate crisis as the series aims to raise awareness as it goes. The fully electric SUVs went head to head here in a semi-final between the top three from qualifying (two final spots up for grabs), a second semi-final called the ‘crazy race’ between the next three from qualifying (one final spot), before a shoot out between the bottom three simply to decide their points ranking.
And it was Nico Rosberg’s XR team who won the inaugural Extreme E race in the Saudi Arabia desert, beating Lewis Hamilton’s X44 and Andretti United. Follow all the reaction below.
Championship standings after Desert X Prix
- Taylor/Kristoffersson (Rosberg XR) 35 points
- Loeb/Gutierrez (X44) 30
- Munnings/Hansen (Andretti) 28
- Sainz/Sanz (Sainz) 26
- Giampaoli Zonca/Bennett ( Hispano Suiza) 20
- Ahlin-Kottulinsky/Button (JBXE) 17
- Hurtgen/Ekstrom (ABT Cupra) 13
- Leduc/Price (Ganassi) 12
- Chadwick/Sarrazin (Veloce) 8
Rosberg Extreme win the semi-final!
It’s Hamilton’s X44 behind, the second qualifier for the final. We say goodbye to Acciona Sainz at this stage.
This is what the start looks like when three electric SUVs go wheel-to-wheel
The top two racers in this semi-final go through to the final; right now, that looks set to be X44 and Rosberg Extreme. The two former F1 rival team owners claimed, when they came into Extreme E, that it wasn’t only about beating each other. But you have to imagine they’re probably quite keen...
Loeb and Sainz, behind, are really struggling in the ENORMOUS sand wakes the cars are giving off. If you can get ahead off the line, you’ve got a HUGE advantage here. But there’s still the driver swap to come, which they need to do not just fast but perfectly - as Rosberg Extreme learned yesterday. Can they keep hold of their time today?
Loeb gets squeezed at the start, Sainz taking the lead while Kristoffersson manages to sneak past both of them. For the cars behind, they’re completely blind in the cockpit, sand flying. They have to risk believing they know the course well enough to carry on - or whether they could hit a rock, here.
How Hyperdrive works
Ok, you’ve managed to get your head around the format but what’s all this then? Hyperdrive is like a boost mode - a bit like Indycar’s push-to-pass or sort of F1’s DRS, that the drivers can use for four seconds, twice per run of the course.
Racing three cars alongside on.... this: yikes
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