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The X44 EXtreme E car driving on a sandy beach, kicking up sand behind it.

CGR and X44 top Desert X-Prix opening qualifying

Chip Ganassi Racing and X44 led the way in the first qualifying session of the 2023 Extreme E season. 

A new format for Extreme E’s third season meant the opening qualifying session consisted of two qualifying heat races. Another two qualifying heat races will take place in qualifying two before the Redemption Race and Grand Finale. 

Heat 1 

It was a dominant victory for Chip Ganassi Racing in the opening race of the weekend. RJ Anderson held the lead off the line with Mattias Ekstrom in the Acciona Sainz car close behind.  

The two were separated by less than a second throughout the first half of the race before heading into the switch zone. 

Amanda Sorensen was still ahead of Laia Sanz when the cars exited the switch zone, but Sanz was looking for a way past. As the two raced along the shore-line, Sanz dipped a wheel into the water and went a little too far. She was able to recover but dropped off the back of Sorensen. 

Sanz closed in late on but only to 3.38s of Sorensen. 

Behind them, the new Carl Cox Motorsport car came P3 in its debut. Timo Scheider hadn’t been able to close in on the leaders in the first half of the race and as he handed over to Christine GZ there wasn’t much of a gap to the Andretti car behind. 

Catie Munnings in the Andretti pushed hard through the second half of the race and almost found a way past the Carl Cox machine. As she pushed at the final overtaking spot of the lap, she put a wheel over a bump which sent her into a roll, causing the first DNF of the season. 

The Abt car, piloted by Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson, came home fourth. 

Heat 2 

The second qualifying heat consisted of more overtakes, especially in the opening moments of the race. 

Tanner Foust in the McLaren snatched the lead off the line, only for X44’s Fraser McConnell to storm through from fourth to first at Turn 2. 

McConnel was unstoppable through the remainder of the race. Despite a sideways moment almost derailing his race, he had a comfortable gap when he handed the car over to team-mate Cristina Gutierrez. 

Gutierrez would further extend the gap as those behind battled for position and was 8.734s ahead at the chequered flag. 

Veloce came home second after a difficult start to the race. Kevin Hansen had struggled off the line and had only climbed up to fourth by the switch zone. Team-mate Molly Taylor was immediately on the attack after taking over, passing Emma Gilmore in the McLaren as they filed out of the Switch Zone. Hedda Hosas in the JBXE machine was overtaken soon after, but Taylor couldn’t close the gap to the leader and had to settle for second. 

JBXE took third, with Rosberg X Racing and McLaren completing the order. 

Image Courtesy of Extreme E

Bethonie Waring

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