NEOM: Four-time rallycross world champion Johan Kristoffersson pulled a risky side-swoop past the Acciona Sainz XE for him to take first place for Rosberg X Racing on Sunday, in NEOM’s first-ever X Prix.
Last year, the Swedish driver managed to take it home for RXR — founded by Formula 1 world champion Nico Rosberg — in AlUla, Saudi Arabia, for the championship’s inaguaural race.
Kristofferson, who was chasing down Sainz XE’s Laia Sanz and X44’s Christine Gutierrez in the final lap, activated his hyperdrive at a critical point during a long stretch in the fourth section which propelled him from P3 past Gutierrez to then go after Sanz — who herself was moments away from bringing it home for the Spanish team after her co-driver’s extraordinary efforts in the first leg of the race that gave her a significant lead.
During the first lap, Sebastian Loeb in the X44 took an early lead with all teams evenly-matched right out of the starting line.
The red NEOM dust engulfed the air, and soon after, Tanner Foust racing for motorsport giants McLaren — who joined the all-electric championship for season two — crashed out in the first section after passing waypoint 2. The crash proved race-ending and the McLaren Odyssey 21 was forced to retire.
Carlos Sainz then led the rest of the lap in the Sainz XE, followed by Loeb in the X44, Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky in the RXR and Sara Price aboard Hummer EV for Chip Ganassi.
After gaining some vision, Loeb managed to close the gap between himself and Sainz nearing the driver switch point. Sainz, who led his team up until the driver switch zone, received disappointing news of a stoppage.
A red flag was called shortly after the first lap due to Foust’s crash, causing a reset and taking the now-switched drivers to the starting line. An unfortunate stroke of luck for Sainz who created a great distance for his team during the first lap.
Rear footage from the RXR electric vehicle showed Foust in P4, blindsided by the dust, clip the back of Ahlin-Kottulinsky’s RXR causing the McLaren to flip and tumble, taking him and the British racing team out of their inaugural X Prix in the Extreme E Championship.
The second drivers to take the last lap were Sanz, Gutierrez, Kyle Leduc and Kristoffersson who headed out to the first gate for the restart, where a one lap shootout now decided the teams’ fate.
A time gap was created between each driver as a fair way to maintain the distances gained by the other drivers in the first lap.
Unfortunately, Leduc was too far back to make an impression and couldn’t catch up with the other drivers. Sanz led, followed by Gutierrez and Kristoffreson.
Kristofferson then activated hyperdrive to take the lead from Sanz in section four but went wide. The Swedish driver managed to correct his line and come out ahead to take the last slope down to the finish line.
Sainz XE came in second followed by X44 taking the last podium spot.
Chip Ganassi Racing came fourth having secured a spot in the final with a win in semifinal 2 and McLaren XE finished fifth despite Foust’s crash, having made an excellent comeback from qualifying to win the Crazy Race earlier in the day.
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