X44 retains Sébastien Loeb and Cristina Gutiérrez for Championship challenge in Season 2
Extreme E Season 1 runners-up X44 have retained their driver line-up for the forthcoming campaign, with Sébastien Loeb and Cristina Gutiérrez back behind the wheel for the team founded by Seven-Time Formula 1™ World Champion Sir Lewis Hamilton.
Loeb and Gutiérrez were narrowly denied Championship honours in the inaugural season of Extreme E, when victory at the Jurassic X Prix in December saw them finish level on points with overall winners Rosberg X Racing (RXR), but lost out on count back of victories (three to one).
Their speed behind the ODYSSEY 21 has never been in doubt, though, with X44 finishing as the fastest qualifier at all five X Prix in 2021, and they will be determined to maintain that imperious form on course as they bid for title glory in Season 2, which gets underway next month in NEOM, Saudi Arabia (19-20 February).
Loeb is one of the greatest rally drivers of all time with a record nine World Rally Championships and 80 race wins to his name. His 26-year career in motorsport has seen him achieve podiums in races as varied as the Dakar Rally, World Rallycross, and 24 Hours of Le Mans. He has also achieved three Race of Champions wins in which he competed against the world’s best racing and rally drivers. The Frenchman has already had a busy start to 2022, finishing second overall in the Dakar Rally before taking his 80th WRC win last weekend with victory in the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo.
Gutiérrez is a promising talent who is rewriting the rulebook for female drivers. In addition to finishing the notoriously difficult Dakar Rally six times, she has made history as the first woman to ever win the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies, the second to win a stage in the Dakar Rally (2021) and the third to stand on a podium in the Dakar Rally (2022). Cristina has all the hallmarks of a great driver, showing grit and a natural talent, and has had a huge passion for the sport since she started racing at four years old.
Sébastien Loeb, X44, said: “I’m very happy to be driving for X44 again in Season 2 of Extreme E. Last year was very challenging for us, we had a lot of struggles with the car and some bad luck too, but we came top of qualifying at every race and finished the year with a win and level on Championship points - so we are feeling optimistic! I think the other teams are very strong, but Cristina and I have shown that we know how to win races in some of the toughest terrains in the world, so we will give our all to secure more podiums. Our fans have been very supportive ever since our first race, so I hope we can repay them with a Championship win in 2022.”
Cristina Gutiérrez, X44, said: “I’m so excited to be returning to race for X44. We came very close to winning the Championship last year and now we’re even more motivated and excited to drive well and push to take first place in 2022. Since I first joined the team, I have learned so much and feel stronger and faster with every race, so I’m excited to get back in the car and show what I can do. I’m also looking forward to exploring the planet and learning more about the places we are racing. By highlighting the climate change challenges faced by the remote environments where we race, I hope to further educate myself on what we can do to help.”