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X44 top first Ocean X-Prix qualifying

X44 duo Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez top the opening qualifying session ahead of the Ocean X-Prix in Senegal.

With a combined time of 10m47.289s, the pair finished more than four seconds ahead of second place Chip Ganassi Racing.

A new rule coming into effect this weekend means teams will have to alternate which driver goes out first each session.

Loeb was the first out for X44, with Guriterrez taking the wheel for the team’s second lap. Gutierrez will have to go out first in this afternoon’s qualifying session, while Loeb will start Saturday’s semi-final race.

Most of the field opted to put their male driver in the car first. Chip Ganassi was one of the few outliers, with Sara Price jumping in the car before Kyle Leduc. Both drivers were flying over the bumps on the Dakar beach, but couldn’t quite match Loeb and Gutierrez’s combined times.

Championship driver Jutta Kleinschmidt impressed in her first competitive session in the series, but a small infringement may have undone her success. She and Abt team-mate Mattias Ekstrom were the fifth team to go out on track and ended their run top of the order. However, they came under investigation for an infringement during the switch procedure. Kleinschmidt entered the switch zone before the car was completely stopped and in neutral.

With a decision on any penalty still pending, Abt remain third overall for the time being.

Rosberg X Racing took fourth overall, ahead of Kevin Hansen and Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky in the JBXE run car.

Veloce was the only team besides Chip Ganassi to run their female driver first. Jamie Chadwick didn’t get the opportunity to run in Saudi Arabia after an accident for team-mate Stephane Sarrazin on his first lap of the Desert X-Prix weekend. After the disappointing weekend, Veloce were the first team out on track in the qualifying session, and Chadwick became the first driver to complete the four-mile course in a competitive session.

Their combined time of 11.37.599s put them sixth overall, ahead of Xite Energy Racing.

Andretti United and Sainz XE both ran into issues on their laps. Timmy Hansen came to a stop on track for several minutes, but was able to get going again. In the Sainz XE car. Laia Sans was some 30s up on Veloce’s time when she also stopped on track and was unable to restart.

Image courtesy of Extreme E

Bethonie Waring

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