Rosberg X Racing’s pairing of Johan Kristofferson and Molly Taylor continued to set the pace in Extreme E with their second victory of the season in the Ocean X Prix in Senegal, surviving a clash in the final with X44’s Cristina Gutiérrez.
The event in the African country, held on a course carved out on a beach and dunes alongside the Atlantic Ocean, proved a far better showcase for the new electric off-road series than the Saudi Arabia season-opener, where poor visibility due to dust on the desert course made overtaking virtually impossible. Here’s what we learned from Extreme E’s second event.
RXR continues to set the pace
As in Dakar, the RXR pairing took victory, were among the pacesetters all weekend and took glory in the final, although this time they had to work far harder for it.
Taylor was in the car for the first lap of the final, and on the run to the first turn found herself wheel-to-wheel with Gutiérrez in the X44 car that had set the pace in qualifying. The two cars touched on the exit of the corner, which sent Gutiérrez off the track into a dune, terminally damaging the car.
The X44 entry wasn’t the only car to drop out of the final: the JBXE machine suffered a rear suspension breakage after Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky tried to change lanes on the beach section and ripped off the rear suspension in a rut.
That left RXR to battle with the Veloce Racing machine of Stephane Sarrazin, who was right on Taylor’s tail as they entered the driver swap zone at the midway point of the event. But with two cars stuck on the course, organisers decided to red flag the event to recover them, setting up a one-lap shootout between Kristofferson and Veloce’s Jamie Chadwick. Both drivers used their ‘hyperdrive’ boost off the start and briefly touched, but Kristofferson took the lead into the first turn and held it to the end. Still, second was a great result for Veloce, given it was the team’s first race after writing off their first car with a crash in qualifying in Saudi Arabia.
The JBXE car was credited with third, as it had travelled more of the course, with the X44 car fourth.
Retirements make for a disappointing final
The final was the first time that four cars had competed in a single Extreme E race, after the dust in Saudi Arabia had prompted organisers to limit the numbers on the course on a single time.
It was unfortunate, then, that two of the four cars didn’t make it past the first turn, robbing the final of much of its drama. While both retired for differing reasons, it was notable that both suffered terminal issues after what appeared to be relatively minor incidents. For a series built on the premise of ‘go anywhere’ race cars, that will be a concern to organisers.
But the racing was an improvement
The races in the dusty season-opener were effectively decided by which driver was leading in the first turn. Thankfully, the Senegal series proved that Extreme E cars can overtake - even if it won’t be easy.