An extreme start for the first Extreme E race, at least that’s what ABT Cupra XE felt for their inaugural race and definitely not something both drivers Mattias Ekström and Claudia Hürtgen were looking forward to. It was a real rollercoaster ride of emotions: having suffered from a violent accident during qualifying, then managed to rebuild the CUPRA ABT XE-01 overnight, only to suffer from even more drama in the shootout race but still scored valuable points. As for now, they are 7th in the championship having so far gained 13 points.
The drama immediately started when Claudia Hürtgen was on her way to top time in the qualifying when the car suddenly rolled over several times and finally came to rest on its side. A technical defect was later found in the front section of the car.
“At that moment, every second feels like a whole hour. I felt something broke in the car and from that moment on I was just a passenger,” said Hürtgen.
The accident felt extremely punishing that it gave the team a 24-hour shift to repair the car. Once the car is ready to go out in the Sunday morning, another drama was waiting: Hurtgen was involved in a massive accident with Chip Ganassi driver Kyle LeDuc. LeDuc was chasing down Hurtgen on a hill when LeDuc was seemed to hit something that unsettled the car. The pair collided heavily, resulting in both of them bailed out of the shootout race.
While the team felt the crash was “absolute nonsense”, they are more than ready to focus on the next race with a newfound eagerness: to go after the winning podium.
“The series is still like a start-up that now has to develop,” Ekström gave his impression on his first race. “The beginning was very promising. As soon as we are home, the first debriefings are on the agenda so that we show our true strength in Senegal. Our goals were, are and always will be: wins.”