Just Electric

Loeb would be “more concerned” if calendar hadn’t changed

X44’s Sebastien Loeb says he would be “more concerned” if the inaugural Extreme E season hadn’t undergone calendar changes.

The 2021 season has undergone multiple changes since the original calendar was announced in December 2019.

The series has now confirmed the final round of the season will take place in the United Kingdom for the Jurrasic X-Prix, a slot originally filled by the Rainforest X-Prix in Brazil.

“For me, I think it would be more concerning if the calendar had not changed,” Loeb told Just Electric.

“This is not a normal year for a championship to launch, because of the coronavirus pandemic, and with something like this you have to be able to adapt.

“It’s a shame we won’t get to visit Argentina and Brazil this year, but I am very hay to be racing in Sardinia where I have won rallies quite a few times – although it was in a different part of the island – and the UK will be a new challenge to all the other races so far.”

New locations aren’t the only thing drivers have had to adapt to. With the series being the first of its kind, all the drivers have had to get used to a completely unfamiliar car.

“The first time I drove the car, I wasn’t sure how it would be. I was a little worried that maybe I wouldn’t be able to feel the traction or hear the noise of the engine, these little things that guide you and help you manage the car,” Loeb explained.

“But actually it wasn’t the case at all. In our car, we have some things to improve, but the feeling is really natural and instead of the sound of the engine you have the noise of the electric that lets you know the wheel speed, grid, and traction.

“Once I’m out on the track, I’m so focused on winning and driving fast that it’s easy to forget I’m even in an electric car at all.”

Loeb and team-mate Cristina Gutierrez currently lie second in the championship standings, seven points behind the Rosberg X Racing duo of Johan Kristoffersson and Molly Taylor.

Loeb is confident X44 can challenge RXR in the final two rounds of the season and praised his team-mate for her commitment.

“It has been a challenge, for sure, but that’s something we knew would be the case when we started the championship,” he said. “There are some incredible drivers for the other teams; people like Carlos Sainz, Timmy and Kevin Hansen, Johan Kristoffersen, and of course some of the best female drivers in the world like Molly Taylor and Catie Munnings.

“With teams like these, of course you know it won’t be easy to win races but I’m very proud of what we have been able to achieve so far.

“Finishing first in qualifying in every race is not bad, and we have made it to every final too. Of course, we have had some bad luck in the finals but we are second in the championship so we are confident we can do what we need to win it.

“Racing with Cristina is great. She is very hungry to learn new things and improve all the time, which is something I also try to do.

“For me, what I think is most impressive is that she is a very brave driver and she knows when to take a risk and when it is best to maybe wait and manage the car. I remember at the Ocean X-Prix she had a difficult night on the Friday before qualifying. She was ill and didn’t get any sleep. And yet still the next day she had an incredible drive and made sure we had the best time in qualifying. For me, that is a very good example of how much she fights for every point and to do the best job she can.”

Image courtesy of Extreme E

Bethonie Waring

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