Molly Taylor takes second Extreme E win of the season at Hydro X Prix
Molly Taylor and Veloce Racing return to victory in the second Hydro X Prix of the weekend, as the Australian secured her fifth win in Extreme E and now leads the championship standings.
Molly Taylor and Veloce Racing kept momentum after a strong start of the season and claimed their second win of the 2023 campaign after an action-packed Hydro X Prix in Scotland, having emerged victorious in the treacherous weather conditions ahead of McLaren Emma Gilmour and Hummer Ganassi's Amanda Sorensen.
The season 1 champion Taylor had also won her heat in Q2 and, thanks to a perfect Grand Final alongside teammate Kevin Hansen, Veloce Racing now moves into the championship lead following a tough race for closest rivals Acciona Sainz, RXR and X44.
A cold morning in Scotland opened the second day of the Hydro X Prix, with the first qualifying heat featuring RXR, X44, ABT Cupra - who returned to the race after the big roll over crash of Saturday, where luckily Klara Andersson was unhurt - Carl Cox Motorsport and Ganassi. After claiming her first podium of her Extreme E career on the first day, Christine GZ tried a different strategy and went against the male drivers on the first stint.
RJ Anderson took the lead at turn 1 from Fraser McConnell (X44), Johan Kristoffersson (RXR) and Nasser Al-Attiyah (ABT Cupra). The Hummer Ganassi driver has a clean run in front, while X44, RXR and ABT Cupra follow each other closely despite the low visibility for the mud being splashed on the windscreens. At the switch zone, Amanda Sorensen took over from the lead, but would have to hold off drivers of the likes of Cristina Gutiérrez, Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky and Klara Andersson.
X44 had a slower pit stop and dropped behind both the RXR and ABT Cupra crews; Gutiérrez caught up with Andersson and, after contact, the Swede picked up and was eventually overtaken by Gutiérrez. Amanda Sorensen made it to the finish line in first place with a confident run, preceding Åhlin-Kottulinsky, Gutiérrez, Andersson and Scheider - with Carl Cox Motorsport a bit off the pace after their first ever podium on Saturday.
Positions changed after a penalty for X44 was applied, as Gutiérrez was deemed at fault for the contact with ABT Cupra's Andersson.
Andretti, McLaren, JBXE, Veloce Racing and Acciona Sainz went against each other in the second heat: it would be the Hansen brothers, Tanner Foust, Andreas Bakkerud and Mattias Ekström behind the wheel for the first stint.
Ekström had the best start from the inside line and preceded Veloce's Kevin Hansen and Andretti's Timmy Hansen. The latter, though, ran into trouble when the Andretti SUV came to a halt after a driveshaft failure that sent the Swedish driver into a spin.
Foust made a brilliant pass on the Veloce SUV, bringing McLaren up to second place - while Ekström handed over to Laia Sanz from a comfortable first place.
Emma Gilmour chased Sanz; just behind them, Veloce Racing was hit with a 10 second penalty after Kevin Hansen had dropped a flag before the driver change - which meant that Hansen/Taylor had to rely on Q2 to potentially advance to the Grand Final.
Acciona Sainz preceded McLaren by 4 seconds across the finish line; JBXE and Andretti rounded out the heat, both hit by technical issues, over 2 minutes behind.
The second qualifying heats in the early afternoon turned out to be rather action-packed and incident-filled. McLaren, Ganassi, JBXE, and ABT Cupra lined up their all female drivers in heat 1, with Carl Cox Motorsport opting once again for a different strategy with Timo Scheider.
All the five cars were perfectly alongside at turn 1, going towards the narrowest section of the course side-by-side. Emma Gimour, who had probably the best start and had just taken the lead, hit the barrier - followed by Scheider and Klara Andersson, who was off course and into the mud as she tried to avoid the incident. The multiple-car accident brought out the red flag and action resumed only with three cars: Amanda Sorensen - the only driver able to avoid the carnage with a perfect reaction - Emma Gilmour and Hedda Hosås.
Gilmour led Sorensen, while Hosås was soon 30 seconds down the road due to a technical issue. New Zealander rally ace Gilmour handed over to Tanner Foust from first place and the highly impressive Amanda Sorensen completed her run in second, handing over to RJ Anderson.
McLaren, though, was placed under investigation for a potential jump start; Anderson managed to reduce the gap to under 3 seconds - and then inherited the first heat win after McLaren were hit by a 30 second time penalty.
In the second heat, female drivers once again took the start of the first stint for X44, Andretti, Veloce, RXR and Acciona Sainz. Just off the line, Laia Sanz hit Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky on the run towards Turn 1: the Swede lost control and ended on the inside bank, then crashing heavily into the side of X44's Cristina Gutiérrez. Munnings and Taylor were exactly side by side into the slow zone, but a red flag was deployed once again.
Three cars took the restart once again, with Veloce, Andretti and X44 - despite a heavily damaged car - were back out. Acciona Sainz lined up on the starting grid, but only in order to be classified in fourth. After the race, though, Laia Sanz was penalized for having caused the contact with Åhlin-Kottulinsky.
At lights out, Molly Taylor was quicker and led Munnings. Veloce retained the first place until the switch zone, when Kevin and Timmy Hansen got behind the wheel. Timmy, though, had an issue at the driver change and Andretti lost second to the limping X44 car, before Hansen restored positions on track. Veloce Racing took victory in the second heat, 46 seconds ahead of Andretti.
With a perfect score from the two qualifying runs, GMC Hummer EV Chip Ganassi Racing advanced to the Grand Final together with Veloce Racing, Neom McLaren Extreme E, Acciona Sainz and RXR after a highly chaotic Q2.
The accident at the start of Q2 had cracked the chassis of the X44's Odyssey21 and Cristina Gutiérrez and Fraser McConnell were forced to take the start of the Redemption Race with the championship car. After a podium on Saturday, Carl Cox Motorsport could not start the race due to damages in Q2 as well.
Nasser Al Attiyah, Andreas Bakkerud, Fraser McConnell and Timmy Hansen took the start of the race at the wheel of the ABT Cupra, JBXE, X44 and Andretti electric SUVs respectively.
JBXE had the better start and, in worsening weather conditions, made it through the first sector in first place, while McConnell - caught out by the awful visibility - hit the back of Al Attiyah's ABT Cupra, then crashed into the hay bales. All cars, though, were under investigation for failing to slow down in the slow zone - eventually resulting in no further action.
In the first race without technical troubles, JBXE showed pace and led until the driver change, where Hedda Hosås took over. Catie Munnings and Klara Andersson followed in second and third place; Munnings gained a couple of seconds per lap, but Hosås drove brilliantly and cautiously, taking a very important win in the redemption race - that did feel like redemption after an otherwise unfortunate round for Jenson Button's team.
Veloce's Kevin Hansen slotted into the lead from the inside line after a small contact with Ekström's Acciona Sainz. Johan Kristoffersson (RXR) was third from the outside line, but he lost the position to Tanner Foust (McLaren) due to the very poor visibility. Foust made a spectacular pass on Ekström and moved up to second, despite having lost most of the rear-end of the car's bodywork on the first lap.
Molly Taylor took over the Veloce car from first place, ahead of Emma Gilmour, Laia Sanz and Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky - all separated by less than 9 seconds - as Amanda Sorensen followed a bit further down the road.
Åhlin-Kottulinsky attacked Sanz and the two made contact, with the treacherous visibility costing them plenty of time to rejoin. Eventually, both would have to retire due to damages.
The race was then a matter of Molly Taylor versus Emma Gilmour for the win: Gilmour kept the pressure but Taylor crossed the finish line a couple of seconds ahead to take Veloce Racing's victory in the second Hydro X Prix.
It was Molly Taylor's fifth victory in Extreme E - her second of the year after the season opener in Neom, Saudi Arabia. Veloce Racing's sterling start of the season thus continued with more important points for the championship, after finishing second in Saturday's Redemption Race.
"What a feeling! We have experienced the highs and lows of an Extreme E weekend, but you really get to see the strength of a team when they respond to the challenges that we faced yesterday", Taylor said. "There is such a good feeling in this team and Kevin drove brilliantly too, so I couldn’t be happier."
After a second place in last year's Punta del Este round, McLaren brings home its second podium in the team's history.
"It’s been an amazing trip and it’s been very challenging – the weather conditions have made it even more so", said McLaren's first ever female driver Emma Gilmour.
"It was very stressful, especially when there are slow zones and so many places where you can potentially make a mistake, but you are very happy when you can hand it over to your teammate having done a good job. To get a podium was a big relief for the team – just a great feeling – and everyone has put in so much work so we are all really happy."
Formerly a Formula Drift driver, Amanda Sorensen claims her first career podium in the Extreme E at only her second participation.
"It’s the direction we want to be moving in, so I’m glad to see that we are still improving. There were a couple setbacks in Saudi and we are happy to have taken steps forward, it’s a positive sign", she commented.
“For the last four years I’ve been doing Formula Drift, which does have a slippery surface, in a sense. It’s on asphalt and has some grip, but it definitely translates over to this."
Veloce Racing now leads the standings with 80 points, having overtaken Acciona Sainz (69). Rosberg X Racing follows at 52 points, while X44 Vida Carbon Racing drops to fourth, just one point behind. GMC Hummer EV Chip Ganassi Racing's first podium of the season gains the American duo fifth in the points' table (50).
The next double header is scheduled for 8th-9th July, as the series will return to Sardinia for the Island X Prix.