Extreme E: Sardinia saw the team score its first top-three finish of the season. Did you feel it was long overdue?
Catie Munnings: Racing is funny – you have good years and bad years, and it is horrible when you get yourselves into a rhythm of bad luck. We had some disappointment in Saudi Arabia, and we didn’t make the first Final in Sardinia either. It is frustrating when you can qualify so strongly and then not get the result from that.
Timmy Hansen: We’ve had good pace and strong package, but it hasn’t really come together so far this season. It was nice to end the double header like this though, with a podium.
XE: You got to the NEOM Island X Prix II Final via the Crazy Race, where we saw impressive performances from both of you to claim the win. How pivotal was that for confidence?
TH: Catie did a fantastic job in the Crazy Race to get us here – first of all by getting in front aggressively and taking the lead, and then by defending heavily from Lance [Woolridge] to keep first position. We did carry some damage throughout, especially after all the battling, so it wasn’t all straightforward.
I then had to bring the car home in one piece, but I knew Kevin [Hansen] was behind me and pushing massively. I tried to balance being safe and keep the lead, but after his mistake I could nurse the car home. The big job, though, was done by Catie to get us into such a strong position.
XE: Timmy you were behind the wheel for the much-anticipated start of the Final. How was that?
TH: All I could think of at that start of the Final was ensuring that I was totally committed - and that’s what I did. We had to line up on a bit of an angle at the start line and I initially got a really good launch, but Nasser [Al-Attiyah] had better grip than me and managed to just edge in front. I made a near perfect launch though, and we were completely side-by-side going into the first turn.
I initially thought going into the first corner ‘I’ve got this… I’ve got this!’, but then I had a bit of contact and had to slam on the brakes, which dropped me back a little bit. I couldn’t believe it as I dropped back to third and ultimately to fourth when we met the cars who had taken the alternate line. From there on it was a little bit scary – I had actually damaged my wipers in the early phase of the lap and I couldn’t get water onto my screen, so really until the water splash I had so much mud and dust on the screen – it was properly scary!
The only way I could stay on track was by staying close enough to Sebastien [Loeb] in order to see the rear of his car and follow it. I just stuck with him for my life!
When we got to the water splash, it cleared my screen a bit, but it was tricky with the dust. By the time I had gotten to the switch zone, I felt I had put everything on the line given the conditions. I had to gamble.
I knew Catie didn’t have an easy job from there but she did great to bring the car home.
CM: It was nice to convert our pace into a podium. It was trickier in the second event, too, because there was far less wind – not to mention everything Timmy described on his run!
It was unfortunate for ABT CUPRA XE to have the penalty, but that’s how sport goes sometimes. They were unlucky and we benefited to pick up the podium. We have worked hard as a team and we have shown great pace, so we’ll take it!
XE: Just two rounds to go in Season 2 and both will be in South America, with Chile up first. What are your immediate thoughts going into those two X Prix?
CM: Timmy and I will be aiming for even more in the final two races of the year, but it’s great that our luck has changed a bit and I hope it can put us on a better path.
I am really excited by Chile and Uruguay. I have never been to South America so it is a completely new challenge.
We’ll be aiming for the podium again… I think we like it there!