Carlos Sainz and Laia Sanz ended the first Qualifying day of the inaugural Extreme E Championship event in second place, with the Spanish duo delighted after a positive day in Saudi Arabia.
Qualifying for the #DesertXPrix took place in challenging conditions around the AlUla track amid the sand dunes in Saudi Arabia, and despite a troubled shakedown day on Friday, the Acciona Sainz XE Team proved just what they were capable of on Saturday.
Sainz was unable to get any significant running in on Friday following a fuel pump failure, so to come out with the second fastest time on Saturday was a fantastic achievement. The aim now for the team is to reach Sunday’s final!
“Considering it is only the first day of racing, in general we are pretty happy,” said rallying legend Sainz on Saturday. “We set the second-fastest time overall and we scored good points.
“Tomorrow we will be in the first Semi-Final, from where only two teams will reach the Final. We will try to do a good job. The goal for Sunday is to make it into the Final.
“We know it will be tough judging by the lap times we have seen today, but the team is in good spirits. The start will matter a lot. It will be the first race we do with all the cars starting side-by-side in the dust, so it will be interesting…”
“We were further ahead than I had expected” – Laia Sanz
Sanz echoed the thoughts of her team-mate, with the Spaniard feeling they were higher up the field than they were expecting to be on Saturday.
The thirty-five-year-old is a renowned motorcyclist and is a thirteen-time Women’s Trial World Champion and ten-time Women’s Trial European Champion as well as a regular in the Dakar Rally in recent years, but she continues to adapt to racing with four wheels this week in the desert.
“Today was a positive day,” said Sanz. “There were many unknowns before Qualifying, but we were further ahead than I had expected and I am happy. It was a busy day, but we made it through quite well.
“Maybe I played it a bit safe in the first Qualifying, but we improved the car for the second session and the times were faster. Extreme E is particularly tricky because you have to be competitive from the very beginning and it is difficult to adapt that fast, but my feeling in the car has improved and we are heading in the right direction.
“The goal for Sunday is to do a good Semi-Final to finish in the top two, because that would put us into the Final, which would be a great result for this first weekend of racing.”