Veloce Racing fastest in Qualifying in Desert X Prix Round 2

MARCH 12: Molly Taylor (AUS) / Kevin Hansen (SWE), Veloce Racing during the Desert X-Prix on March 12, 2023. (Photo by Sam Bloxham / LAT Images)
© Sam Bloxham

Veloce Racing finished as top qualifiers in the second round of the Desert X Prix, offering up a formidable performance that saw them win both of their Qualifying Heats following yesterday’s Round 1 win in NEOM, Saudi Arabia

Coming out on top in both Q1 Heat 1 and Q2 Heat 1, Kevin Hansen and Molly Taylor also set the quickest time in the Continental Traction Challenge in Round 2 so far as the other teams attempted to match Veloce Racing’s pace.

© Sam Bloxham

Joining the British squad in the Grand Final are Rosberg X Racing, having won Q1 Heat 2 and finished second in Q2 Heat 2, and No.99 GMC HUMMER EV Chip Ganassi Racing, who finished second in both of their Q1 and Q2 Heats.

Also in the line-up for the Grand Final are ABT CUPRA XE, with a win in Q2 Heat 2 making up for fourth in Q1 Heat 1, marking an incredible comeback for the team after using the championship car for Round 2 following the damage incurred to their ODYSSEY 21 in Round 1.

ACCIONA | SAINZ XE Team, who claimed two third place finishes in Qualifying, complete the Grand Final grid.

The remaining five teams will fight it out in the Redemption Race to determine sixth to tenth place in the Round 2 standings.

Q1 Heat 1:

As the five teams charged towards the opening corner, Timmy Hansen was quickest off the line for Andretti Altawkilat Extreme E, ahead of his brother Kevin for Veloce Racing, X44 Vida Carbon Racing’s Fraser McConnell in third, and Timo Scheider in fourth for Carl Cox Motorsport.

© Sam Bagnall

ABT CUPRA XE were set to serve a 30-second penalty in the Switch Zone for using the championship car following Nasser Al-Attiyah’s roll in Round 1’s Redemption Race. They made the most of their situation, however, hanging back to take on the Continental Traction Challenge in clear air.

The front four approached the driver change tightly packed, but problems for Carl Cox Motorsport in the Switch Zone saw the team suffer another Qualifying DNF.

Exiting the Switch Zone, Veloce Racing’s Molly Taylor refused to play it safe, making use of her ENOWA Hyperdrive to complete a pass on Catie Munnings and steal the lead from Andretti Altawkilat Extreme E.

Gutiérrez held on to her ENOWA Hyperdrive until late on, timing it perfectly as she claimed second place for X44 Vida Carbon Racing. Munnings tried to recover but ran out of course, thus finishing third just 0.293 seconds behind Gutiérrez, with ABT CUPRA XE’s Al-Attiyah bringing the car home safely in fourth.

Veloce Racing and Andretti Altawkilat Extreme E had initially received penalties for speeding in the Switch Zone giving X44 Vida Carbon Racing the win. Following a review, however, these were rescinded, ensuring the on-course finishing positions were retained and Veloce Racing gained that extra championship point.

Q1 - Heat 2

After an initial false start the Heat got going at the second attempt, with NEOM McLaren Extreme E Team’s Tanner Foust pushing for the lead initially. Despite being sandwiched between the JBXE and ACCIONA | SAINZ XE Team ODYSSEY 21s, RXR’s Johan Kristoffersson timed his ENOWA Hyperdrive usage perfectly to surge to the front.

© Charly Lopez

No.99 GMC HUMMER EV’s RJ Anderson picked up the fight for second with Foust. Mattias Ekström was close behind for ACCIONA | SAINZ XE Team, and gained third place as Foust dropped to fourth in the resulting squabble.

All five teams remained congested, but only JBXE’s Heikki Kovalainen had held onto his ENOWA Hyperdrive, which he used to take fourth place from Foust as the front three pulled away towards the Switch Zone.

Following the driver change a nail-biting two laps ensued, with the frontrunners close together as they approached the end of the race where Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky crossed the line in first for RXR, earning a championship point in the process.

Sanz attempted to steal second with her ENOWA Hyperdrive but fell 0.619 seconds short, placing ACCIONA | SAINZ XE Team third behind No.99 GMC HUMMER EV Chip Ganassi Racing’s Sorensen. Further back NEOM McLaren Extreme E Team finished fourth after Emma Gilmour managed to get past JBXE’s Hedda Hösas who rounded out the top five.

Q2 – Heat 1

A strong start from Desert X Prix standouts Veloce Racing saw Taylor take the lead ahead of No.99 GMC HUMMER EV Chip Ganassi Racing’s Sorensen in second and Munnings in third for Andretti Altawkilat Extreme E.

© Colin McMaster

NEOM McLaren Extreme E Team’s Gilmour rounded out the top four as they began to pull away from Christine GZ in fifth for Carl Cox Motorsport.

Veloce Racing’s Taylor began to extend her lead as Andretti Altawkilat Extreme E’s Munnings closed in on second place, occupied by No.99 GMC HUMMER EV Chip Ganassi Racing, as the teams approached the driver change.

Leaving the Switch Zone in the same order, the new drivers pushed hard in search of any possible overtakes, but in doing so Andretti Altawkilat Extreme E’s Hansen rolled in the early stages of the lap. Hansen left the incident unscathed, despite NEOM McLaren Extreme E Team’s Foust making slight contact with the upturned Hansen’s ODYSSEY 21.

© Colin McMaster

The race was red flagged and resumed for a thrilling one lap shoot-out. Veloce Racing took the quickest time in the Continental Traction Challenge from ABT CUPRA XE as they headed towards a win in the Heat - bagging a second extra championship point - and top of overall Qualifying.

Second for No.99 GMC HUMMER EV Chip Ganassi Racing secured the team’s spot in the Grand Final. NEOM McLaren Extreme E Team’s Foust managed to keep third place, but it was not enough to claim a place in the Grand Final.

Carl Cox Motorsport’s fourth place in the Heat and the DNF for Andretti Altawkilat Extreme E from their third roll of the weekend, sees both teams also competing in the Redemption Race.

Q2 – Heat 2

Another quick start from ACCIONA | SAINZ XE Team’s Laia Sanz saw her take the lead in the early stages. The Spaniard soon dropped behind RXR’s Åhlin-Kottulinsky, however, before losing second place to ABT CUPRA XE’s charging Nasser Al-Attiyah as the Qatari pushed his way into the lead of the race with an aggressive overtake on Åhlin-Kottulinsky into a left-hander.

As Al-Attiyah stormed ahead for ABT CUPRA XE, Åhlin-Kottulinsky held off the advances of Sanz who in turn defended from X44 Vida Carbon Racing’s Gutiérrez pushing from fourth place with JBXE’s Hösas not far off the pace.

© Sam Bloxham

A last-ditch attempt by Gutiérrez saw the Spaniard pass Sanz as the four trailing teams entered the Switch Zone, taking third away from ACCIONA | SAINZ XE Team. The X44 Vida Carbon Racing team then managed to pass RXR as they left their respective bays.

McConnell was unable to hold onto that second place for X44 Vida Carbon Racing, as RXR’s Kristoffersson took back the runner-up spot using his ENOWA Hyperdrive.

ACCIONA | SAINZ XE Team’s Ekström was soon all over the back of McConnell, and looked to have made the overtake on the shoreline straight before the X44 Vida Carbon Racing driver recovered to defend retain third place.

Kristoffersson continued to close the gap as he chased down ABT CUPRA XE, but Andersson kept a cool head, crossing the line four seconds ahead of the RXR driver. Both teams head into the Grand Final, with ABT CUPRA XE taking an all-important championship point as part of an amazing recovery that saw the team up all night preparing the car.

X44 Vida Carbon Racing held onto third place on track, but a 3.7-second penalty for speeding in the Switch Zone saw them drop to fourth behind the ACCIONA | SAINZ XE Team. This turn of events saw the two teams level on 12 points at the end of Qualifying, but a quicker Traction Challenge time saw ACCIONA | SAINZ XE Team take the remaining spot in the Grand Final.

© Sam Bloxham

This leaves Gutiérrez and McConnell to fight for crucial points in the Redemption Race, joined by fifth-place finishers in the Heat JBXE.

With the Redemption Race and the Grand Final still to come, find out where you can watch all the action

Qualifying Results:

Q1 Heat 1:
1. Veloce Racing 11:25.061
2. X44 Vida Carbon Racing +2.777
3. Andretti Altawkilat Extreme E +3.070
+1:09.044 (PENALISED)
5. Carl Cox Motorsport DNF

Q1 Heat 2: 
1. Rosberg X Racing 11:27.999
2. No.99 GMC HUMMER EV Chip Ganassi Racing +0.996
3. ACCIONA | SAINZ XE Team +1.615
4. NEOM McLaren Extreme E Team +12.047 (PENALISED)
5. JBXE +12.342

Q2 Heat 1:
1. Veloce Racing 21: 02.544
2. No.99 GMC HUMMER EV Chip Ganassi Racing +7.397
3. NEOM McLaren Extreme E +13.590
4. Carl Cox Motorsport +17.449
5. Andretti Altawkilat Extreme E DNF

Q2 Heat 2:
1. ABT CUPRA XE 11:22.546
2. Rosberg X Racing +4.643
3. ACCIONA | SAINZ XE Team +6.749
4. X44 Vida Carbon Racing +9.845 (PENALISED)
5. JBXE +11.676

Overall Qualifying Standings:
1. Veloce Racing: 20 points
2. Rosberg X Racing: 18 points
3. No.99 GMC HUMMER EV Chip Ganassi Racing: 16 points
4. ABT CUPRA XE: 14 points
5. ACCIONA | SAINZ XE Team: 12 points
6. X44 Vida Carbon Racing: 12 points
7. NEOM McLaren Extreme E Team: 10 points
8. Andretti Altawkilat Extreme E: 8 points
9. Carl Cox Motorsport: 6 points
10. JBXE: 4 points