Extreme E

Ganassi scores first XE win in Sardinia after Rosberg penalty

4 Mins read
Credit: Sam Bloxham

After a difficult inaugural season and a frustrating qualifying day on Wednesday, Chip Ganassi Racing is finally an Extreme E race winner, even if due to circumstance. CGR spent Thursday’s Island X Prix Final chasing down the dominant car of Rosberg X Racing and settled for second and its maiden podium, but RXR received a thirty-second time penalty for Johan Kristoffersson wrecking Carlos Sainz at the start and briefly hospitalising him. As CGR was ten seconds behind RXR, the latter was demoted to third while CGR and XITE Energy Racing respectively moved up to first and second.

RXR, the championship leader after winning the opener in NEOM, was the clear favourite for Sardinia after winning the overall in qualifying and its Semi-Final. However, once the Final began and the field navigated the multiple lanes presented, Sainz opted for a different route than in past sessions. As Kristoffersson and Sainz merged onto the single lane, the former clipped the latter and sent him into a roll before his ACCIONA | Sainz XE car landed on its roof. A red flag—the third to occur in a Final in series history—was called to extract Sainz, who was conscious and taken to the Misericordia Hospital in Cagliari for further evaluations.

When the race resumed (following repairs to the body), Kristoffersson switched out with Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky and CGR’s Kyle LeDuc with Sara Price. Åhlin-Kottulinsky seemingly sealed RXR’s perfect weekend by taking the checkered flag with a ten-second advantage over Price and twenty-two over XITE’s Tamara Molinaro. However, an officials’ investigation later in the afternoon confirmed Kristoffersson’s culpability for the Sainz contact and gave RXR a thirty-second penalty that dropped the team to third.

“Both drivers took different paths after the start when merging to Way Point 1, Car N6 (Kristoffersson) and car N55 (Sainz) were nearly side by side when car N6 lost the rear and strongly collided in the rear of car N55 who crashed,” reads the stewards’ statement.

Sainz was eventually cleared and discharged with no injuries save for soreness, though he and his team publicly voiced their disbelief with what they felt was too light of a punishment. Team-mate Laia Sanz commented the wreck “really bothers me because we had no fault in the crash,” while team principal Joan Orús added he was “surprised to say the least” about the verdict.

“Luckily all the medical checks were fine and I have just been released from the hospital, although I feel quite a lot of pain,” said Sainz. “I am really disappointed nevertheless with what happened on the track and even more so with the fact that there was only a thirty-second penalty for who caused this big accident. In over forty years in motorsports, this is one of the most serious actions that I have ever seen without an exemplary penalty.”

ACCIONA | Sainz requested and was granted a curfew break that would allow the team to make necessary repairs until 8 AM on Friday, 8 June, ahead of the Island X Prix doubleheader’s second round this weekend. The waiver was also approved for McLaren XE after Emma Gilmour‘s wild flip in the Crazy Race.

Credit: Andrew Ferraro

With RXR sinking to third due to the penalty, the new victor CGR capped off a tumultuous round that began with LeDuc and Price topped both Tuesday practices before mechanical troubles resulted in them placing last in qualifying on Wednesday. A dramatic run in Thursday’s Crazy Race came up short as CGR finished second to ABT CUPRA XE, only for the winner to be eliminated with twenty-five seconds added to its time for knocking over a waypoint and a switch bay violation. 

“If you look at the numbers, we went from first in practice, to last in qualifying and back to first as the race winners,” stated LeDuc. “It was a rollercoaster ride, and I don’t know how to put it into words, but we all did our job today. We have a great GMC HUMMER EV team where everyone works so hard. We’re ready to take this success and apply it to the next race this weekend.”

Although aided by opposing infractions, owner Chip Ganassi can add another series in which his teams have won, joining a massive list of successes in disciplines like IndyCar, NASCAR, sports cars, and even rallycross. The win is also the first for a custom bodywork as title sponsor GMC provides a Hummer grille and other aesthetic designs that differ from the standard Spark ODYSSEY 21.

Price described the day as “a team effort all around. I’m so proud of everyone. We made some serious progress this week and I’m ready to take on round three this weekend.”

Oh, how fitting that the American team and its all-American driver duo won days after their country celebrated its Independence Day.

XITE Energy Racing, boasting a new driver lineup in Molinaro and Timo Scheider, also secured its first podium in its début Final under the current identity (the team made the 2021 Desert X Prix Final as Hispanio Suiza XITE). JBXE finished a distant fourth but still concluded a strong round with a Semi-Final #2 triumph in Hedda Hosås‘ inaugural start with the outfit.

Race results

FinishNumberTeamTotal TimeDriver #1Lap TimeDriver #2Lap Time
199Chip Ganassi Racing26:12.396Kyle LeDuc3:58.818Sara Price3:58.401
242XITE Energy Racing26:24.249Timo Scheider4:09.729Tamara Molinaro3:59.156
36Rosberg X Racing26:32.033*Johan Kristoffersson3:53.980Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky3:53.267
422JBXE26:35.830Hedda Hosås4:27.860Kevin Hansen3:45.864
555ACCIONA | Sainz XE TeamDNFCarlos SainzN/ALaia SanzN/A
* – Received a penalty

Semi-Final #1

FinishNumberTeamTotal TimeDriver #1Lap TimeDriver #2Lap Time
16Rosberg X Racing9:23.321Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky3:59.792Johan Kristoffersson3:45.270
242XITE Energy Racng9:42.073Tamara Molinaro4:07.114Timo Scheider3:54.440
323Andretti XE10:16.326Timmy Hansen3:57.979Catie Munnings4:39.16

Semi-Final #2

FinishNumberTeamTotal TimeDriver #1Lap TimeDriver #2Lap Time
122JBXE9:39.054*Kevin Hansen3:50.137Hedda Hosås4:00.248
255ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team9:44.002*Laia Sanz4:07.295Carlos Sainz3:44.362
344X4410:00.228Sébastien Loeb3:45.213Cristina Gutiérrez4:08.616

Crazy Race

FinishNumberTeamTotal TimeDriver #1Lap TimeDriver #2Lap Time
199Chip Ganassi Racing10:22.991Sara Price4:15.876Kyle LeDuc4:27.243
25Veloce Racing10:42.217Lance Woolridge4:09.228Christine GZ4:50.466
3125ABT CUPRA XE10:45.119*Nasser Al-Attiyah3:49.226Jutta Kleinschmidt4:40.575
458McLaren XEDNFEmma GilmourN/ATanner FoustN/A
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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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