Once again team X44 showed a consistent strength throughout two qualifying sessions, with total time combined 21:44.860. Clean and perfectly executed, Sébastien Loeb and Cristina Gutiérrez managed to beat RXR who are 27 seconds away from them.
“Today’s qualification was obviously very good, I’m happy with my time and of course Cristina’s driving was incredible. This track for me was a lot more interesting than Saudi and I had a lot of confidence in the car which allowed me to go flat out all the time.” said Loeb. “Tomorrow will be a different way of racing and we’ll be facing strong teams. Obviously it’s difficult to expect anything but I know we have the speed to win, so I’m feeling good.”
Gutiérrez was also looking strong and careful in two sessions despite more challenging track conditions. “The type of track for me was much harder than the Desert and the sand shifted a lot between two rounds so it was definitely challenging, but I managed to get a good time and Seb was amazing.
“We don’t know what will happen tomorrow but I’m feeling confident and I can’t wait to get back in the car. Finishing top in the qualifying is better than I could have hoped for!” said the Spanish rally driver.
Chip Ganassi was the only pairing that looked threatening for the X44, looking promising from Friday and Qualifying 1 until Kyle LeDuc stopped on-track with technical gremlins. He managed to get the car back on but to no avail. Once again LeDuc and teammate Sara Price had to swallow their pain as their chances to get into the semifinals denied immediately, sitting in the seventh position.
RXR had to lose a handful of seconds as Molly Taylor almost sent herself into a barrel roll but the Australian driver gathered it up brilliantly putting them into the second qualifying place.
It is a relieving moment for Veloce Racing as they finally got their first official lap times on board. Jamie Chadwick was visibly thrilled at the end of her first run, together with teammate Stéphane Sarrazin they set consistent lap times taking minimal risks with the aim to build their pace, which they did by improving 10 seconds from Q1 to Q2.
Things went awry for Catie Munnings and Timmy Hansen of Andretti United. It is obvious that they couldn’t manage to make it through the bumps, both were looking extremely frustrated despite clean running during Friday practice. Munnings said, “no matter how much we go through that area, it’s hard to get our proper lap there”. Hansen felt the same way too.
“It’s been a tough day and even more disappointing after we were fastest in the practice yesterday. I had four of five jumps with the same sort of landing and then on the next jump the car shut down after the landing and I couldn’t get it restarted.” said Hansen recounted his unfortunate Q1 session.
“Fortunately I managed to get everything restarted and I could get the car back to Catie, but it’s certainly not the day we wanted.”
No semifinals running confirmed for Acciona Sainz XE team. The car problems were not fixable, making it unable for Carlos Sainz and Laia Sanz to set their lap time properly. They will go head to head against Andretti and Chip Ganassi in the Shoot Out to earn some points.
“Things simply didn’t go well for us today. Given the current rules of the championship, any issue you encounter in Qualifying compromises your whole weekend and you miss making any chances to get to the final.” Sainz said.
“It’s something that we should look at it in the future, because it’s a shame that we go around the world only to drive four minutes only have to bad luck in Qualifying. Now our eyes are set for tomorrow’s race.”
Total qualifying results
|Pos||Drivers||Team||Laps||Time 1||Time 2||Total|
|1||Sébastien Loeb/Cristina Gutiérrez||X44||4||10:47.289||10:57.567||21:44.860|
|2||Johan Kristofferson/Molly Taylor||Rosberg X Racing||4||11:02.310||11:10.128||+27.580|
|3||Mattias Ekström/Jutta Kleinschmidt||Abt CUPRA XE||4||11:13.122||11:07.691||+35.950|
|4||Kevin Hansen/Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky||JBXE||4||11:13.405||11:12.021||+40.570|
|5||Stéphane Sarrazin/Jamie Chadwick||Veloce Racing||4||11:37.599||11:27.771||+1:20.510|
|6||Oliver Bennett/Christine Giampaoli Zonca||XITE Energy Racing||4||11:52.806||11:43.655||+1:51.600|
|7||Kyle LeDuc/Sara Price||Segi TV Chip Ganassi Racing||4||10:51.528||14:50.287||+3:56.960|
|8||Timmy Hansen/Catie Munnings||Andretti United Extreme E||4||14:39.665||11:17.403||+4:12.210|
|9||Carlos Sainz/Laia Sanz||Acciona Sainz XE Team||3||DNF||11:23.131||+1 Lap|