IT was a fight to the finish in the Uruguay Natural Energy X Prix, final round of the Extreme E series for purpose-built electric rallycars. With championship contenders ACCIONA | SAINZ XE Team and No.99 GMC HUMMER EV Chip Ganassi Racing already ruled out of the Final, only Rosberg X Racing and X44 Vida Carbon racing remained in contention to win this year’s Extreme E title.
And it was X44 Vida Carbon Racing which took championship glory although it finished third, with ABT CUPRA XE securing a maiden X Prix victory. X44, Lewis Hamilton’s outfit, had entered a Final that was missing three of the top four teams in the championship standings, including leaders RXR.
As their closest rivals watched on from the paddock, Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez secured the podium finish needed to take their maiden Extreme E title, just 2 points clear of RXR in the standings, having bagged a crucial 5 points from the Continental Traction Challenge earlier.
The stakes had been high: and from the outset, it was clear that it would be no easy task for X44 Vida Carbon Racing. ABT CUPRA XE’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Veloce Racing’s Kevin Hansen had surrounded Loeb as the trio approached the opening sequence of corners.
A fantastic move from Loeb seemed to have taken the lead for the Frenchman, as he carried his speed through a wider line, until Al-Attiyah surged up the inside to take the lead. With the title at stake, Loeb kept the ABT CUPRA XE within reach but as the leading teams tussled for supremacy, NEOM McLaren Extreme E’s Tanner Foust timed his attack perfectly, charging through to take second away from X44 Vida Carbon Racing.
Championship glory slipped further and further away from the challengers as Timmy Hansen managed to get past the recovering Loeb to secure third for Genesys Andretti United Extreme E. A masterclass in defending followed, with Hansen keeping Loeb at bay as the teams approached the Switch Zone, where Gutierrez would continue the duel with Catie Munnings.
A 5-second penalty for Veloce Racing, from Hansen hitting a waypoint flag on his stint, took the pressure off X44 Vida Carbon Racing from behind, but the heat was on to overtake Genesys Andretti United Extreme E. Gutierrez threw her ODYSSEY 21 into every corner but was struggling to gain enough ground on Munnings up ahead. What’s more, the Spaniard was under investigation for a collision with Veloce Racing’s Molly Taylor, for which she would later receive a 5-second penalty.
Just as time seemed to be running out for X44 Vida Carbon Racing, a 7-second penalty came through for Genesys Andretti United Extreme E for speeding in the Switch Zone. This was the lifeline that Gutierrez needed as she fought to stay close enough to the Genesys Andretti United Extreme E ODYSSEY 21.
The Spaniard crossed the line in fourth but within 2 seconds of Munnings, thus securing third place and the championship title for X44 Vida Carbon Racing, just 2 points ahead of RXR. It was that close. Further up the field, a measured drive from Klara Andersson kept Emma Gilmour in her mirrors as the NEOM McLaren Extreme E driver chased a maiden podium for the team. Gilmour secured second, while Andersson and Al-Attiyah’s performances earned ABT CUPRA XE their first X Prix win and back-to-back podiums during the pair’s first Extreme E campaign.
“I think the season finale was an amazing rollercoaster. Everything was open! There was an incredible comeback from X44 Vida Carbon Racing and bad luck for Rosberg X Racing, who have done some incredible things this season. Once again, the championship decider was close, with the season going down to the wire, so we’re ready for a fantastic campaign next year!” said Alejandro Agag, Founder and CEO of Extreme E.