X44 set the pace in practice ahead of Enel X Island X Prix
22 October 2021, Sardinia: The course action got underway in Sardinia today as 18 world-class drivers had their first taste of the 7-kilometre Enel X Island X Prix course, widely anticipated to be among the most challenging experienced so far this season.
Solid rock bases and water splashes have brought new challenges to the Extreme E field, and being able to master these difficult conditions quickly ensures there is all to play for in the series’ inaugural European round.
Alejandro Agag, Founder and CEO of Extreme E, said: “We love this location and it’s great also to see the St. Helena from the course. It’s really great to be in Europe and the response we have had to the race has been fantastic.
“I would like to thank our hosts, the Italian Army, and the region of Sardinia which is truly an amazing place. It is also great to have the Island X Prix’s title sponsor, Enel X, here this weekend. We have a very long relationship with Enel X, first from Formula E and now with Extreme E.
“Sardinia has proven to be a very different setting to our last race in the Arctic in Greenland. It’s been great watching the cars out on the course, especially as it’s really tough here. We will have to see how it is with the dust and if we have rain over the weekend. We have many things in motion, and so we will have to see how it is tomorrow and during the racing on Sunday.”
Michele Cecchini, Head of E Motorsport at Enel X, said: “We at Enel X are very proud to be here as part of this championship. It’s extremely fascinating in terms of sustainability and how we can improve motorsport, and we are super excited to be a part of that.
“We want to develop technologies, we want to develop effective solutions and we believe that in motorsport we can really define what the real requirements are. We like the idea of accelerating what we are doing with motorsport, particularly in Sardinia.
“It has been hard to see what has happened here in Sardinia, and so alongside developing sustainable solutions we are very pleased that we have been able to be part of the recovery programme here.”
A brief Shakedown session was followed by Free Practice and seeing the cars back on the course for the first time since August certainly whet the appetite for tomorrow’s qualifying runs and Sunday’s all-important Finals.
Championship challengers X44 were fastest out of the blocks in the Free Practice session, posting a total time of 11:53:421 to head the field. SEGI TV Chip Ganassi Racing were second quickest, just under 20 seconds off X44’s leading pace, as they bid to end their luckless season so far at the Enel X Island X Prix.
Behind them were the early Free Practice pace-setters Veloce Racing, whose clean run ensured they finished third fastest. XITE ENERGY RACING enjoyed a solid start to the weekend and ended the session in fourth ahead of Championship leaders Rosberg X Racing who completed the top five runners.
ABT CUPRA XE suffered technical difficulties out on the course, which meant they were unable to demonstrate their true pace and ended the session in sixth. ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team picked up damage and suffered a power steering problem on their Free Practice run which meant they were seventh quickest.
The top-two last time out in Greenland endured a troubled start to the Enel X Island X Prix. Both Andretti United Extreme E and JBXE suffered significant damage in Free Practice which meant they were unable to complete their respective runs, with both squads now in a race against the clock to get their cars fixed ahead of tomorrow’s qualifying sessions.
Sébastien Loeb, X44, said: “I have some good memories from Sardinia in WRC, so I like this surface to drive on. It is a bit different from what we had in the other events with a lot of sand and big ruts, so you know it is hard. It is a bit more like a rallying style of driving, with more routes and some tight corners.
“Hopefully it will be fine for us and hopefully the other teams will find the solutions to the different problems they had so we will have a good fight this weekend.”
Sara Price, SEGI TV Chip Ganassi Racing, said: “I like this kind of terrain – it reminds me of home and also the Baja. It is going well so far and we just want to keep it that way, so we’re going to go out there and do the best we possibly can.”
Carlos Sainz Snr., ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team, said: “In terms of driving I really like the course. It is very complete – you have low, medium and high-speed elements and I would say it is a complete course. It is challenging and that’s good.
“We are hoping for a good weekend, but we have unfortunately not started well. We had an issue in practice which meant we couldn’t complete the run – we lost our power steering which meant that I nearly lost the car on the course. It is a pity, especially for Laia [Sanz] being unable to get a true feel for the car. It means we go into qualifying with a lot of unknowns, but hopefully we can prepare well and have a good run tomorrow.”
Molly Taylor, Rosberg X Racing, said: “You have to take every corner as it comes. It is interesting because you can see that there is a lot of attrition and typically on a course like this it is more of an endurance course, but then you only have 7-kilometre of it so it is also a sprint. Managing that is certainly a challenge here. We just need to take every corner as it comes and see where we’re at and put our best foot forward.”
Catie Munnings, Andretti United Extreme E, said: “When I did the course walk, I was really nervous about it as it’s really rough and bumpy. I would say it’s one of the hardest courses we’ve had in the championship, especially after coming off smooth Greenland – but I’ve actually really enjoyed it. I thought it would be one of those things where you are trying to survive, but I managed to get in the flow with it.
“Timmy [Hansen] touched a rock on his run and that broke a rear damper. It wasn’t a perfect run for me either, but the sectors were fast and we’ll look to build on that tomorrow.”
Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky, JBXE: “We had a rough start. Neither Kevin nor I managed to do a lap in free practice so it is going to be tough for sure for tomorrow. But we had a good weekend in Greenland, we showed good pace, and we just want to keep going that way.
“We have been watching the others, though, so we will try to figure out what are the best lines and then just drive after what we see. It is a challenging course, so I think it is about pushing where you can push and keeping it safe where you have to keep it safe.”
Qualifying for the Enel X Island X Prix gets underway tomorrow and will be shown across a number of broadcasters includingMediaset in Italy, Fox Sports in the USA, ITV, Sky Sports, BBC digital channels and BT Sport in the UK, Teledeporte in Spain, Prosieben MAXX in Germany, as well as Eurosport across most European Markets.
A full list of broadcasters can be found here.
All times CEST
Saturday 23 October
1100 – 1300 CEST Qualifying Round 1
1600 – 1800 CEST Qualifying Round 2
Sunday 24 October
1200 – 1330 CEST Semi Finals
1600 – 1800 CEST Final
To learn more about Extreme E, visit – www.Extreme-E.com