Less than ten days to the second race of Extreme E, Ocean X Prix in Senegal
Behind the three teams of the podium in the first round of Saudi Arabia - Rosberg X Racing - RXR - X44 and Andretti United comes a large group of pretenders to the top positions of the ranking. The very first Extreme E race on the Saudi Arabian deserts of AlUla just six weeks ago saw Rosberg X Racing (RXR) take both the race victory and the lead in the overall standings, currently sitting pretty at the top of the table on 35 points. Although X44 crossed the finish of the Final in third they currently sit second in the overall table on 30 points after amassing more points in qualifying than Andretti United, who eventually finished second in the Final and now occupy third place in the overall standings with 28 points.
With just seven points separating the trio, Extreme E caught up with the table toppers to see how they’re preparing for the upcoming Ocean X Prix at Lac Rose, Dakar, Senegal from 29-30 May.
Like the top of the Extreme E table, the middle of the standings made up of ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team (fourth), Hispano Suiza XITE Energy Team (fifth) and JBXE (sixth) are within a few points of each other on 26, 20 and 17 point respectively.
Although ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team were in second spot after qualifying propelling them to Semi-Final 1, they narrowly missed out on a place in the Final coming third in that session. Both Hispano Suiza XITE Energy Team and Jenson Button’s JBXE team were in the aptly named Crazy Race but missed out on the Final after being beaten by Andretti United who eventually went on to claim second place in the last race of the day.
It is still all to play for though, with opportunities for points at the Ocean X Prix in Senegal from 29-30 May in both the Qualifying rounds and Final so making your way up the table is a very real possibility that all the teams are relishing.
Albert Fàbrega, ACCIONA | Sainz XE’s Team Principal says: "It was positive to show our speed from the very beginning, even though we narrowly missed the Final. We are very excited now to go to Senegal. The Lac Rose in Dakar is a legendary place in the history of motorsport. Both Laia and Carlos are very experienced drivers on those conditions. We have been working to improve our performance and we are hoping we can fight for the podium
Like most of the Extreme E drivers Laia Sanz has been competing elsewhere ahead of Senegal in the Andalusia Rally, again on four wheels – very different to her two-wheel Dakar pedigree – but important practice for the upcoming course at Lac Rose. She says: “It is important for me, because I am continuously learning when it comes to racing on four wheels, which is not my natural environment. The Andalusia Rally was very positive for me in my progression on four wheels and I am convinced that it will come in handy in Senegal, so yes, I am more confident going into the second event of the Extreme E season. First because I have the experience of having racing in AlUla and second because of the work that I am putting in testing and racing in competitions like the Andalusia Rally.”
Second place in the Crazy Race was the driver duo of Brit Oliver Bennett and Spaniard Christine GZ who had a steady Saudi outing putting them centre of the overall standings. Oliver says: “I’m really XITE’d to get to the Ocean X Prix in Senegal. It feels like a long time since we last drove the car so I’m anxious to get back behind the wheel and keep familiar with this new electric monster.” He continues: “The overall feeling for this event is positive, we learnt a lot in the first round and came away feeling confident and with a good strategy for the season ahead. It’s a new environment, most likely another extreme one, so we will be as prepared as we can to do battle!”
Meanwhile his teammate Christine GZ - has been competing in other races since Saudi Arabia and says: “I have been competing at an off-road event to keep developing my skills and will be testing alongside my teammate Oli in a range of vehicles before round two of Extreme E. My main goal in Senegal is to have a ton of fun! “
JBXE driver Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky, who was the final driver announced to the Extreme E line-up after being confirmed in March just weeks ahead of the first race, is relishing the chance to get back to action. She says: “I’m super excited for Senegal! Saudi was a challenge for us as we came in late to the series so we didn't have much time to prepare, but now we have the experience and knowledge from the Desert X Prix and we've been working closely with Lotus Engineering to see what we can do with the car”.
She continues: “Saudi was the first time I’d raced on the sand and it’s going to be sand again in Senegal, although a different course, so I’m really excited to see a new venue and see how the tyres perform as we had a good run with them in Saudi. All in all it is great to have the experience from the first event and I’m looking forward to seeing how the work we have done between then and Senegal will pay off.”
Only time will tell how Senegal will shake up the leaderboard but it’s safe to say every team is pushing for that top spot.