X44's Cristina Gutiérrez takes victory in first Hydro X Prix
Extreme E reigning champion Cristina Gutiérrez secured her first win of the season at the first Hydro X Prix in Scotland, moving X44 Team up into third place in the championship standings. Christine GZ claimed her first Extreme E podium of her career, with third place for Carl Cox Motorsport.
X44 Vida Carbon Racing's Cristina Gutiérrez and Fraser McConnell took a hard-fought victory in the first Hydro X Prix in Scotland, after a post-race penalty demoted Andretti's Catie Munnings and Timmy Hansen to second place.
Extreme E reigning champion Gutiérrez had a flawless run in the final and after three races, she now moves into third place in the championship standings.
Victorious at the season opener in Saudi Arabia, the Veloce Racing duo of Molly Taylor and Kevin Hansen topped the timing sheets on Friday, when the British team kicked off the weekend in Scotland - at its first appearance on the Extreme E calendar - with the best time around the 2.76km course of the Hydro X Prix.
The highly challenging course, designed around a former opencast coal mine, features some very technical sections with steep inclines and terrain changes, including mud and rocks. Veloce preceded Lewis Hamilton's X44 team and ABT Cupra - with championship contenders Rosberg X Racing ended the day at the bottom of the classification due to a series of penalties for hitting corner flags.
Qualifying was set to get underway early in the morning of Saturday - but a thick fog that persisted throughout the morning eventually forced the cancellation of the Q1 session due to visibility.
It was then all down to Q2, as teams battled for a place in the first Grand Final.
Amanda Sorensen (GMC Hummer EV Chip Ganassi Racing), Laia Sanz (Acciona Sainz), Catie Munnings (Andretti Altawkilat Extreme E), Hedda Hosås (JBXE) and Cristina Gutiérrez (X44 Vida Carbon Racing) started the first heat.
With a brilliant start, the American rookie Sorensen - one of the youngest and least experienced of the field - took the outside line and slotted into second place, behind Gutiérrez. Sorensen would come under pressure from Sanz, but the latter was then passed by Munnings just before the switch zone, as all teams battled for the top two places that would give them a guaranteed spot in the final.
Gutiérrez handed over to her new teammate McConnell and X44 retained the lead after the driver change with a 7 second margin to RJ Anderson (Ganassi), Mattias Ekström (Acciona Sainz), Timmy Hansen (Andretti) and Andreas Bakkerud - who replaced Heikki Kovalainen at JBXE. McConnell had a clean run and extended his lead, taking victory in the first heat, ahead of the Ganassi and Andretti crews.
In the second qualifying heat, Veloce Racing lined up Kevin Hansen first, McLaren had Tanner Foust behind the wheel and Carl Cox Motorsport - at its first season in the championship - lined up Timo Scheider for the first run. Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky and Klara Andersson took the start in the RXR and ABT Cupra electric SUVs.
Åhlin-Kottulinsky had the best start and took the lead into the first left-hander, followed by Klara Andersson and Timo Scheider. The two unfortunately made contact and, squeezed and left with no room to the left-side of the track, Andersson went off and rolled at speed in a massive accident that brought out the red flag. Luckily, the Swede was uninjured, but the ABT Cupra team was out for the rest of the day due to the significant damage.
Åhlin-Kottulinsky was again in the lead at the new start, preceding Scheider and Foust - with the Veloce SUV of Hansen retiring for an issue.
Scheider tried to hunt down Åhlin-Kottulinsky but the RXR driver was flawless until the switch zone. Kristoffersson rejoined in the lead - with all three cars separated by tenths of a second - but he then pulled away to take the win.
Emma Gilmour (McLaren) made a spectacular pass for second over Christine GZ (Carl Cox Motorsport), but McLaren would receive a 5 second penalty for a switch zone infringement, due to a small misplacement of the car by Foust.
After the two qualifying heats, X44 and RXR topped the leaderboard, ahead of Ganassi, Carl Cox - having qualified second - and Andretti, third in heat 1 but with the fastest Continental sector time. McLaren, Acciona Sainz, Veloce and JBXE were out of the first Grand Final, but still had chances to grab some important points in the Redemption Race.
Mattias Ekström (Acciona Sainz) had a perfect start and took the lead around the outside line, preceding Veloce's Hansen and McLaren's Gilmour. At the driver change, Ekström held the top spot by the smallest of margins over Hansen, as teammates Laia Sanz and Molly Taylor took over. Hedda Hosås also got behind the wheel of the JBXE SUV, but was already 24 seconds behind after the first stint by Bakkerud.
Laia Sanz had a great run to win the redemption race for Acciona Sainz, holding off season 1 champion Molly Taylor, as positions settled after the driver change.
Andretti, Ganassi, Carl Cox Motorsport, X44 and RXR were ready to contend for the first ever Hydro X Prix victory. Johan Kristoffersson had a spectacular start around the outside but lost time as he went through a water puddle; Hansen was quick to seize the lead for Andretti, followed by McConnell and Kristoffersson. The Swedish driver, though, battled with the X44 car and, having just passed the Jamaican, hit a corner bank due to the poor visibility and crashed out of the race. The Ganassi SUV of Anderson, meanwhile, picked up a puncture.
After a hectic start, Timmy Hansen handed over to Catie Munnings, who left the switch zone with a comfortable lead over Cristina Gutiérrez; Amanda Sorensen retained third despite Ganassi having to change a tyre, while Timo Scheider took over from Christine GZ in fourth place.
The Andretti team, though, was placed under investigation for a switch zone infringement; Gutiérrez reduced the gap in her stint but Munnings took victory in Scotland's first race by a little over 6 seconds. Carl Cox Motorsport's Christine GZ and Timo Scheider managed to get ahead of the Hummer Ganassi car, as Amanda Sorensen had to wrestle a damaged Odyssey21 through the second stint - with the final step of the podium going to the new team for the first time in its history. It was also Christine GZ's first Extreme E podium of her career.
A post-race 15 second penalty, though, handed victory to X44's Gutiérrez and McConnell, as a marginally shorter pit stop than the minimum allowed time for the Andretti team landed them a penalty.
"I am very happy for my first podium in this third season of Extreme E, and especially for conquering it together with my teammate Fraser", Gutiérrez commented.
"It was a very difficult race, with mud and rain, but we stayed focused and managed to have a great race. Thanks to all the X44 team for their great work throughout the weekend."
The fourth race of the season is scheduled for Sunday 14th, which will again consist of new qualifying sessions in the morning, followed by a final race.
Acciona Sainz move into the championship lead with 56 points despite not making it to the first Grand Final of the weekend, ahead of Veloce Racing (52) and X44 (49).