The Sardinian Extreme E double header this weekend was a resounding success for first season's winners Rosberg X Racing, which topped the podium for both Saturday’s and Sunday’s races. Team Principal and former F1 Champion Nico Rosberg was in attendance for the second win, celebrating with his drivers Johan Kristoffersson and Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky.
The beginning of the Grand Final was fraught with jeopardy, as all five cars converged onto a lane that could fit three at most. Kristoffersson found himself on the grass verge, but luckily without damage to the car. No.99 GMC HUMMER EV Chip Ganassi Racing’s RJ Anderson emerged in front, ahead of Andretti Altawkilat Extreme E’s Timmy Hansen, with Sébastien Loeb of ABT Cupra in third.
Loeb was returning to Extreme E as a substitute for Nasser Al-Attiyah. Unfortunately, a puncture dropped him back and Acciona Sainz’s Mattias Ekström was able to move up from fourth. Kristoffersson then also took advantage of the ABT Cupra car’s difficulties to move up, taking Ekström as well ahead of the switch zone.
As the top four teams left the switch zone in tight formation, and Åhlin-Kottulinsky was able to pass Andretti Altawkilat Extreme E’s Catie Munnings to move up to second. This move unfortunately pushed Munnings’s car into a roll that put Andretti Altawkilat team entirely out of the race. Although No.99 GMC HUMMER EV Chip Ganassi Racing’s Amanda Sorensen managed to hold off Åhlin-Kottulinsky to cross the line in first, a 15.7-second penalty for exiting the Switch Zone bay early gifted the win to RXR, and moved Acciona Sainz to second to complete the podium.
“It feels great to take the win today!” said Kristoffersson. “I didn’t have the best start in the Grand Final, and with all the teams choosing the same line, it was a tight squeeze. Unfortunately, I hit the bushes and had a huge impact. I came to a complete stop because I didn’t know if there were any stones in the bush, but I made it out, and my tactic after that was to drive as fast as I could, and I managed to pick up the pace.” Åhlin-Kottulinsky added: “Johan did an amazing job after that start, and I got good information from him in the Switch Zone, which meant I had a good run. Teamwork, as usual, made it great.”
A dominant qualifying for the second race day put RXR in a strong position for the sixth Grand Final of the season. This time Kristoffersson recognised the danger of the squeeze in the initial section of the race, deliberately dropped back to fourth and then rushed through a gap to seize first place.
While Acciona Sainz’s Ekström in second and No.99 GMC HUMMER EV Chip Ganassi Racing’s Anderson were both close behind, Kristoffersson managed to maintain his lead to the Switch Zone. The top three teams maintained their positions throughout most of the rest of the race. But Andretti Altawkilat Extreme E’s Catie Munnings was coming up fast from fourth. She managed to grab the third podium spot on the final corner in dramatic fashion.
“We had a great weekend here in Sardinia, which seems to be a proper RXR Island,” said Kristoffersson. “When I saw a small gap I went for it. For a split second, I regretted it because there was no space, but I managed to get through, and from there, I managed the pace quite well. Mikaela did a fantastic job bringing it home.” Åhlin-Kottulinsky added: “What an epic weekend! Johan just did what Johan does best. When I took over, there was some pressure from Laia [Sanz] behind me, but I tried to keep it tidy and keep the lines. It just feels surreal to have two wins in Sardinia!”
“The level of competition in Extreme E is world class, and so to win two races this weekend is absolutely epic,” said Nico Rosberg. “During yesterday’s Final we were last after the start and managed an incredible comeback, and today we were second to last but the others had a tangle and we managed to slip through. Huge driving from Johan and Mikaela means we’re now back in the championship battle.”
The weekend was not so positive for Veloce, which had been top of the table before the racing commenced. The team failed to make it to Saturday’s Grand Final, after a puncture in the first round of qualifying. But the team did manage to win the Redemption Race, leaving them two points off the top of the Championship.
However, despite winning the first round of qualifying for Sunday’s race, Veloce started off well in round two, but problems with the car dropped the team to last during Mollie Taylor’s segment. Teammate Kevin Hansen fought back to third, but multiple collisions with Carl Cox Motorsport’s Timo Scheider left the Veloce car in dire straits, finishing fifth.
The team initially thought this was enough for the Grand Final, but a penalty for Carl Cox promoted JBXE and relegated Veloce to the Redemption Race again. ABT Cupra executed a competent strategy to win this race, but after an infringement from X44 Vida Carbon Racing, Veloce was promoted to second.
The Sardinian Extreme E race weekend was notable for the debut of 16-year-old Lia Block, replacing Christine GZ on the Carl Cox Motorsport team. Daughter of the late Ken Block, the racing legend who drove Extreme E’s Odyssey 21 car for its first public outing at the Dakar Rally in 2020, Lia showed impressive skills all weekend and will be one to watch over the final two race weekend double headers of the season.
The two Grand Final wins from RXR have seen the team leapfrog up the Championship standings into second place with 105 points, pushing Veloce into third with 95 points. Acciona Sainz’s solid form maintains their lead with 109 points. But with No. 99 Hummer EV Chip Ganassi Racing on 80 points in fourth and four more Grand Finals to go, there’s everything to race for over the remainder of the Extreme E season.