(Motorsport news) 16 December 2021, Dorset: The action got underway in Dorset today as the nine sides took the Jurassic X Prix course for the first time ahead of Extreme E’s Season 1 Finale.
The 3.8 kilometre course has a unique set of challenges for the Extreme E grid, with a mixed surface of clay, sand, gravel and mud dominating the terrain in Dorset, giving the teams a good amount of variables to overcome if they are to get big points in the final X Prix of the campaign.
The potential threat of showers, a sight so common across the United Kingdom at this time of year, may offer a further challenge for those out on the course.
After a brief shakedown session, the pace setters in Free Practice were ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team who posted a combined time of 10:10:006 to head the standings. In second were ABT Cupra XE, nine seconds adrift and continuing their recent good form out on course.
Championship challengers X44 were third quickest, just over 10 seconds behind ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team’s leading time, and 13 seconds faster than title rivals and Championship leaders Rosberg X Racing who finished the session in fourth.
XITE ENERGY RACING enjoyed a trouble-free session to complete the top five. Veloce Racing had a new driver line-up this weekend in the form of returning Jamie Chadwick and debutant Lance Woolridge, but showed no signs of slowing their speed to finish sixth fastest.
Laia Sanz, ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team: “Many things can happen in every race, but we need to be confident. We have been a bit unlucky this season so I am hoping for more good luck this weekend.
“The season has been great, but challenging – I came from two-wheel racing and everyone else has plenty of experience on four wheels. I think I am improving, though, and definitely feel like I have the best teacher in Carlos [Sainz Snr.].
“The start will be crucial on Sunday and I hope we can continue to do well for Qualifying.”
Jutta Kleinschmidt, ABT Cupra XE: “It’s completely different out there, but it is Extreme E after all – we have to face many conditions.
“The challenge has been to find the right speed, particularly over the Knife Edge section, and that will be key. If the wipers are not working you might not see anything!
“We had a good Free Practice session, though, and we’re looking forward to Qualifying.”
Sébastien Loeb, X44: “It felt really muddy out there, but the car coped well which was great.
“It feels like a rally stage with fast and slow corners, with big jumps, and overall the course looks great.
“We don’t have a lot to lose – mathematically the Championship is still possible so we just need to concentrate, push hard, and then we will see. Hopefully this weekend we can pull everything together to finish the season as well as possible.”
Molly Taylor, Rosberg X Racing: “It has been great to experience so many incredible places this season. We are excited to be here and it has been a great adventure to this point. We just need to keep our heads down and keep doing the job.
“The terrain is very different to the other courses, mainly down to the mud! It is cool we have experienced so many different terrains throughout the season. It’s a lot of fun out there, though, with a lot of sliding around – it has a bit of everything.
“We need to have a solid weekend – there is all to play for and we are looking forward to it.”
Oliver Bennett, XITE ENERGY RACING: “I’ve actually driven here before – one of my first ever rallies took place here so it is a little bit familiar.
“The mud is deep and slippery, so it is very easy to go off-line, and that makes it a bit like a home from home!
“From what we have seen so far it is going to be entertaining.”
Jamie Chadwick, Veloce Racing: “Its good to be back and feels like a long time since I was in the paddock.
“It has definitely helped my driving to compete in different series – when I went back to W Series earlier this season I really felt the benefit of competing in the opening two X Prix.
“I think we can enjoy the weekend. Lance and I are racing without pressure and a fresh mindset. We’re going to enjoy it and take what we can.”
Lance Woolridge, Veloce Racing: “It is great to finally be here. I’ve been working closely with the team for the past year and I am really looking forward to Qualifying now.
“We’ve set a goal of getting into the Final this weekend and hopefully that can lay some solid groundwork for Season 2 next season.”
There was disappointment for JBXE, Andretti United Extreme E and SEGI TV Chip Ganassi Racing, though, who finished the session in seventh, eighth and ninth, respectively, with all three teams encountering difficulties out on the course.
Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky, JBXE: “I expected it to be muddy, but the start-line was insane!
“Nevertheless, I have been really impressed with how the ODYSSEY 21 handles the conditions – it should make for an interesting race. Visibility will be a big challenge and the start will be really tough.
“We want to have a good weekend – our team is based in the UK, while our team boss Jenson [Button] is also here. We came in late to the series and did no testing before the season started and so I am really proud of what we have achieved together. We are now just looking forward to a fun weekend trying to take the car over the finish line.”
Catie Munnings, Andretti United Extreme E: “It’s a home race for me and for the team, which is really special for everyone. It’s certainly been a year to remember.
“Its pretty high-speed out there and quite narrow, which reminds me of rallying. It’s really fun to drive. The conditions improved as the Free Practice session went on so Qualifying will be interesting, but I think everyone just wants to have a good race to end the year now.
“You might see a different approach from me when attacking the Knife Edge, though!”
Kyle LeDuc, SEGI TV Chip Ganassi Racing: “It’s a good layout and a fairly trouble-free course, although we did have a couple of issues in practice.
“We’ve got to get people excited and this track should be something for the fans to tune into. There should be some good spots for racing to get people hyped.
“The start is going to be massively crucial for us.”
The Finals will be shown in more than 200 countries by 85 broadcasters including ITV, Sky Sports, BBC digital channels and BT Sport in the UK, FOX Sports in the USA, Prosieben MAXX in Germany, Mediaset in Italy as well as Eurosport across most European Markets.
A full list of broadcasters can be found here.
PLEASE NOTE ALL TIMINGS ARE GMT
Saturday 18 December
1000 – 1200 GMT Qualifying Round 1
1300 – 1500 GMT Qualifying Round 2
Sunday 19 December
1000 – 1130 GMT Semi Finals
1200 – 1400 GMT Final