Back for its second season, Extreme E returned to Saudi Arabia for the Desert X Prix this weekend, held in a new location of NEOM in the northwest of the country.
Second place for Andretti United Extreme E in Saudi Arabia
Andretti United Extreme E’s Catie Munnings and Timmy Hansen finished second overall in Saudi Arabia for the inaugural Extreme E race, the Desert X Prix, after a solid performance from both drivers throughout all stages of the event.
Driving their electric SUV [the ODYSSEY 21], Munnings and Hansen finished fourth after Saturday’s qualifying sessions which were action-packed. In the first quali, Hansen posted the fastest lap out of the 18 drivers competing in Saudi while Munnings put in a heroic effort of getting the car to the finish after suffering from a rear-right puncture for the majority of her lap.
At the end of the second qualifying session, the duo were P4 and in pole position for “crazy race” – a shootout where the winner progresses through to the final alongside two other cars. A near-perfect run from the Anglo-Swedish pairing saw them take the win over Jenson Button’s JBXE outfit and the Hispano Suiza Xite Energy Team.
Andretti United went on to win GridPlay, where fans can vote for their favourite team and the other teams can then donate their votes to the top three teams. Munnings and Hansen opted for the right side of the starting gate for the three-car final where they lined up alongside Team X44 and Rosberg X Racing – competitor teams owned by F1 stars Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
Hansen drove first in the final, instantly taking the lead but his former World RX compatriot Johan Kristoffersson edged ahead after Hansen took a different line. The tough desert terrain made for visibility issues and left Hansen following Kristoffersson’s dust trail.
Meanwhile, Sebastien Loeb suffered from a power steering failure to allow Hansen a comfortable lead over the Frenchman. Munnings took over the car from Hansen with a 30 second gap to Rosberg X Racing, the 23-year-old English driver putting in a solid lap to finish runner-up behind Kristoffersson and Molly Taylor.
Andretti United Extreme E finish the weekend third in the overall standings, just two points adrift of X44 in second and seven behind championship leaders Rosberg X Racing who leave Saudi Arabia with 35 points.
Next in the Extreme E calendar is the championship’s Ocean X Prix which will be staged at Lac Rose, Senegal (29-30 May).
Catie Munnings commented: “This just feels incredible. We have been training so hard for this and I keep pinching myself as I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. Going into the race, it was one of those weekends where it didn’t start the way we wanted with the puncture but then it all turned around for us. Today everything felt really good in the car. Extreme E is just so different to what we are both used to but we are learning on the job and having a great time too! This result is massive to us it all feels so surreal but to finish with a P2 is really special.”
Timmy Hansen commented: “At the start of the week if someone had told me we would finish second then I would have been really happy. It’s a great result for us and for the team. Extreme E has exceeded all my expectations and I’d like to say a massive congratulations to Alejandro [Agag]. To just come up with the idea was crazy enough but to pull it off is something else altogether. We are also really grateful to the teams who gave us so many of their votes in GridPlay - it really helped us in the final and I seemed to have better traction that the others off the start. We know what we can work on for next time and we know how we can be faster for Senegal but for now I’m really happy with this result.”
Zak Brown, Andretti United Extreme E co-owner commented: “Catie, Timmy and the team did a fantastic job here in AlUla and I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved. The conditions out on track were incredibly difficult but both drivers showed sheer grit and determination to get through to the final. It’s been fantastic to witness the first ever Extreme E race in person and I am mightily impressed that Alejandro and his team have put on such a successful event in hugely difficult circumstances. We’ve got the season off to a great start and it will be interesting to see how the car performs for our next challenge: the Ocean X Prix in Senegal.”
Michael Andretti, Andretti United Extreme E co-owner commented: “What a fantastic result for our team and great way to kick off this exciting new race series. Extreme E is a huge challenge on so many levels and the driving conditions in the Saudi desert were certainly not for the faint-hearted. Well done to Catie and Timmy for looking after the car and bringing her home in second place. The excitement and buzz around Extreme E is growing all the time and we’re excited to see what the rest of the season has in store for Andretti United.”
Richard Dean, Andretti United Extreme E co-owner commented: “I’m delighted that our team came away with a second place today in Saudi. It was a tough weekend and both Catie and Timmy did so well, battling the puncture in the first qualifying session and then winning the crazy race and getting us through to the final. There’s been a lot of hard work gone into getting everything ready for this new series and I’d like to thank the team for their efforts. I’d also like to congratulate Alejandro Agag and the Extreme E team on a successful debut. I’m looking forward to seeing how we get on in the next race.”