Desert dynamic duo Molly Taylor and Johan Kristoffersson have taken the first win for Rosberg X Racing at the first ever Extreme E Desert X Prix. Coming in second after ex-Formula 1 Champion Nico Rosberg’s team were Andretti United in second, and current Formula 1 champ Lewis Hamilton’s X44 taking third.
- Rosberg X Racing (Johan Kristoffersson / Molly Taylor) 35 points
- X44 (Sébastien Loeb / Cristina Gutiérrez) 30 points
- Andretti United (Timmy Hansen / Catie Munnings) 28 points
- ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team (Carlos Sainz / Laia Sanz) 26 points
- Hispano Suiza XITE Energy Team (Oliver Bennett / Christine Giampaoli Zonca) 20 points
- JBXE (Jenson Button / Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky) 17 points
- ABT Cupra XE (Mattias Ekström / Claudia Hürtgen) 13 points
- Segi TV Chip Ganassi Racing (Kyle LeDuc / Sara Price) 12 points
- Veloce Racing (Stéphane Sarrazin / Jamie Chadwick) 8 points
Even though Andretti took second place, there are points awarded from various stages of the race. Find out more about the scoring system here
Taylor and Kristoffersson were unstoppable taking the win for Rosberg X Racing. They didn’t start in great positions in both semi-final and finals, and also took a 60 second penalty for speeding in the driver switch zone. They maneuvered their silent machine with skill and control across the harsh desert.
Nico Rosberg, Rosberg X Racing Founder and CEO, said: “This is insane. I’m so thankful to the whole team for the effort put in this weekend, which has been intense and really on-the-edge. Everything has come together so well and everybody has worked together so well. We have a fantastic team of engineers and mechanics, who prepared perfectly for this first weekend with so many unknowns, and Molly and Johan produced some phenomenal driving. Neither of them put a foot wrong in really tough conditions, and they both showed unbelievable speed out there – their performance was really inspiring and I felt really proud watching them. To come back to claim victory after a 60-second penalty caused by a technical problem is just awesome, and they are definitely deserving winners. For the championship as a whole, it’s really been a good start.”
For the newbies, each team takes part in two time trials on Saturday, in Qualifying Round 1 and Qualifying Round 2. The top three point scorers after Saturday’s time trials qualify for the Semi-Final. The fourth, fifth and sixth place qualifiers will progress to the Crazy Race while the bottom three teams will compete in the Shoot Out.
One of the race weekend’s most suspenseful races, where Segi TV Chip Ganassi Racing (Sara Price / Kyle LeDuc) and ABT CUPRA XE (Claudia Hürtgen / Mattias Ekström) battle for seventh place. Both teams had bad qualifying rounds, and almost within sight of the finish line, LeDuc hi his rival and the pair both ended their weekend beached in the desert.
With just one spot up for grabs in the Final, the stakes were high for the three Crazy Race competitors – Andretti United’s Catie Munnings / Timmy Hansen, Hispano Suiza XITE Energy Team pairing Oliver Bennett / Christine Giampaoli Zonca and JBXE duo Jenson Button / Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky.
Hansen opened up a 30-second margin before Munnings took over, after which, the 2016 European Rally Championship Ladies’ Trophy winner artfully managed the gap to safely bring the Andretti United car home. Giampaoli Zonca did a good job to peg her British rival throughout, with Åhlin-Kottulinsky similarly showing a strong turn-of-speed on her way to the finish line in third.
As top qualifiers yesterday, the X44 crew of Sébastien Loeb and Cristina Gutiérrez opted to start from the right-hand side of the grid for the Semi-Final – giving them the theoretical inside line for ‘Turn One’. ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team duo Carlos Sainz and Laia Sanz chose the middle slot, with Rosberg X Racing (Taylor / Kristoffersson) taking up position on the left.
When the action got underway, Sainz got the best launch to edge fellow multiple FIA World Rally Champion Loeb away from the line, with the pole-sitter briefly slipping back to third. Loeb then regained the advantage as the battling Sainz and Kristoffersson both drifted wide, but the Swede was not done yet and neatly undercut both of his adversaries on the exit of the first gate to seize the initiative.
Kicking up a sandstorm in his wake, Kristoffersson rapidly made his escape as his pursuers found themselves driving blindly through the dust – and by the time he arrived at the switch zone to hand over to team-mate Taylor, the Rosberg X Racing car was almost 13 seconds to the good.
Thereafter, the former Australian Rally Champion continued to eke out the gap, crossing the finish line just under half-a-minute ahead of Gutiérrez, as both teams successfully booked their places in the all-important Final. Another 38 seconds in arrears, ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team wound up third to slip out of contention.
As winners of the fan-led GridPlay vote, Andretti United had the luxury of choosing their starting spot for the Final. Hansen duly plumped for pole position on the right, with Kristoffersson lining up in the middle for Rosberg X Racing and X44’s Loeb taking up the third grid slot on the left.
Hansen replicated his lightning launch from the Crazy Race as Kristoffersson focussed his efforts on fending off Loeb for second, before employing the same tactic that had served him so well in the Semi-Final to sweep wide going into Turn One and undercut compatriot Hansen on the exit in a sensational switchback move.
The three-time FIA World Rallycross Champion then wasted no time at all in stretching his legs, as Hansen settled into second and Loeb – grappling with power steering problems – trailed behind the pair in third. Kristoffersson handed the car over to Taylor with a half-minute advantage, and whilst Munnings would go on to narrow the deficit slightly over the course of the second lap, the Australian always had the situation under control and wound up just over 23 seconds clear at the finish.
With this race weekend over, the cars and crew will board the St. Helena and set sail for Lac Rose in Senegal, where the second leg of the racing series, Ocean X Prix, takes place from 29 to 30 May.
A big Congrats to the Rosberg X Racing for their win.