Rosberg's team beats old foe Hamilton's outfit in Extreme E opener

Rally champs Molly Taylor and Swede Johan Kristoffersson shared driving duties in the X Racing electric SUV

AFP April 05, 2021


The 2016 Formula One world champion Nico Rosberg's team won the inaugural race of the new Extreme E championship in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

Former Australian rally champion Molly Taylor and Swede Johan Kristoffersson, a three-time world rallycross winner, shared driving duties in the Rosberg X Racing electric SUV.

"Sooo happy about what @rosbergxracing managed to achieve this weekend. @molly_rally, @JohanKMS88, and the rest of Team RXR, you guys rock," Rosberg said on Twitter.

In second came the American Andretti team with Catie Munnings and Timmy Hansen behind the wheel, with the team created by seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton, Rosberg's former Mercedes teammate and title rival, in third.

Driving for Hamilton's X44 team were nine-time rally world champion Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez.

They had set the fastest time in qualifying on Saturday.

"It's been pretty cool to be part of the journey, of the very start of what I think has an amazing future," said Taylor.

"It's an incredible opportunity for us (female drivers). If you look at the field, the drivers we have here are the best in every motorsport category."

Extreme E is seeking to highlight the environmental dangers posed to some of the world's most remote regions.

After this weekend's Al-Ula round, the competition will switch to Senegal's Lac Rose, Greenland, the Amazon in Brazil and the glaciers of Tierra del Fuego in Argentina.

Four-time Dakar Rally winner Carlos Sainz, with his teammate Laia Sanz, and the team of 2009 F1 world champion Jenson Button exited at the semi-final stage.

"We had a little contact with Sebastien (Loeb) and from there it was over. It's impossible to follow, once we are in the dust we immediately lose 15 seconds," Sainz told AFP.

In the Saudi desert, the debut of Extreme E was bumpy.

The qualifying format -- eventually a time-trial -- was changed at the last moment and spectacular accidents on Saturday and Sunday raised concerns for the safety of the drivers, even if there were no serious injuries.

"It's been beyond my expectations. It's been the best weekend I could think of," said Alejandro Agag, the entrepreneur behind the project.

"As for accidents, it's part of motorsport."

Agag added that adjustments would be made before the second round of the championship, to be held on May 29 and 30.

As well as setting up environmental legacy projects in the five areas, the series also insists it is promoting gender equality with each team dividing up duties behind the wheel between male and female drivers.



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