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  • Writer's pictureVIVIEN STREBELOW

Catie Munnings wins Arctic XPrix for Andretti United

In a spectacular final race, Catie Munnings led the Andretti United duo to their first Extreme E victory and claimed the Arctic XPrix. From the shoot-out of the Crazy Race to the final, Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky (JBX) was second and Laia Sanz (Acciona) took her first podium.

Here's what happened under the Greenland grey skies.

Photo by Extreme E / Sam Bloxham

A grey and overcast Greenland set the stage for the final day of the Extreme E Arctic XPrix, with the nine teams fighting to write their names in the history books of the first winner of the first ever motorsport event on the island. The first Semi Final kicked off the day, with Veloce Racing (Emma Gilmour/Stéphane Sarrazin), X44 (Cristina Gutierrez/Sébastien Loeb) and Acciona Sainz (Laia Sanz/Carlos Sainz) going out on track. Gilmour was the best starter of the trio, but Sainz then moved back ahead with the use of the Hyper-Drive on the long straight and pulled away. With a 14 second gap, he then handed over the red Odyssey21 electric SUV to teammate Laia Sanz, who went out first followed by Stephane Sarrazin and Sebastien Loeb. Loeb had great pace and passed Sarrazin with a great move at the lake section, before he tried to chase down Sanz in the lead. All three cars were closely together as they came to the Rock Garden. Sanz and Loeb were more careful in this tricky section, while Sarrazin went in full-risk mode, took over the lead, but then had to deal with a front suspension failure. The Veloce Racing's driver gamble did not pay off and both Loeb and Sanz went through on the final straight, gaining access to the final. Emma Gilmour and Stephane Sarrazin fought hard but were out of the race. The Semi Final 2 saw the ABT Cupra (Jutta Kleinschmidt/Mattias Ekström), Andretti United (Catie Munnings/Timmy Hansen) and Rosberg X Racing (Molly Taylor/Johan Kristoffersson) teams lined up at the starting gate. This time, it was Kleinschmidt to get the best start off the line, but Hansen passed her at turn 1 when she had a drive shaft failure that slowed down the German off-road legend. The two Swedes fought closely: Kristofferson was under pressure and made contact with the track limits, which resulted in a 10 second time penalty. At the end of the first lap, it was Kristoffersson to reach the switch zone first, closely followed by Hansen. Kleinschmidt was a bit further down - not the best way to celebrate her 59th birthday. A great battle between Molly Taylor and Catie Munnings followed: the Australian tried to compensate for the penalty, but Munnings made a great move stick with a better line. Catie brought the Andretti United SUV across the line in first position, ahead of Molly Taylor - and both were through to the final race. Ekström lost more time with the damaged car and took the finish line with an over 45 second delay.

Photo by Extreme E / Sam Bloxham

The Crazy Race was...crazy. JBXE (Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky/Kevin Hansen), Chip Ganassi Racing (Sara Prize/Kyle LeDuc) and Xite Energy Racing (Christine GZ/Oliver Bennett) battled out for the last place in the final. Once again, Sara Price had an unlucky run and her suspension failed after a jump and the SEGI TV Andretti team was forced to retire. Christine GZ and her co-driver Bennett showed good pace, but shortly before the finish line, the American driver's SUV stopped two times. In the end, the JBXE duo was the only team that could finish the Crazy Race, promoting them to the final despite a 30 second penalty. The British team had in fact used 7 sets of tires instead of the 6 allowed during the weekend. On the Final race starting grid, Molly Taylor, Catie Munnings, Laia Sanz, Sebastien Loeb and Kevin Hansen waited for the green light. Taylor and Loeb had a good start, but it was Catie Munnings to snatch the lead, igniting a three-car battle for the lead. Loeb pulled away, while Munnings started to defend from the attacks of Kevin Hansen behind her. All four cars reached the switch zone together and drama began: race leader Loeb handed over to Cristina Gutierrez, but they needed to change a tyre due to a puncture, which cost them a lot of time. Kristoffersson was now first, followed by Timmy Hansen and Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky. The battle for the win was now a three-way business. Kristoffersson and Hansen went side by side through the rocks and, a mega jump by Kristoffersson would put him into the lead but soon after his car turned off. He dropped back to fifth, behind Sainz and Gutierrez. The issue set the stage for the first Extreme E victory for Andretti United, as Catie Munnings and Timmy Hansen broke Rosberg X Racing's winning strike. JBXE's Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky and Kevin Hansen were second: "So extremely happy over a podium with Kevin and JBXE!" said a happy Kottulinsky. "Outstanding work all weekend with a team who never gives up, very proud to be a part of the JBXE squad". Third place went to Acciona Sainz, with Laia Sanz and Carlos Sainz scoring their first podium in the series. The winners of the two opening rounds Molly Taylor and Johan Kristoffersson maintain the lead in the championship rankings (93 points), followed by Cristina Gutierrez and Sebastien Loeb (84 points). Catie Munnings and Timmy Hansen passed JBXE for third place in the standings. "Our comeback fight wasn’t to be." – summed up Taylor. "Unfortunately we had another power cut out whilst battling for the win in the final, leaving us in P5 in the end." "It’s been a rollercoaster weekend in every sense but I’m proud of our pace and fight. It was also pretty cool to battle the start with my childhood rally hero!" – she continued. "We still maintain the Championship lead and our eyes are fully focused forward. Thanks again for all your amazing support!" The next points will be awarded at the Island X-Prix in Sardinia, Italy.

Photo by Extreme E / Colin McMaster



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