Loeb: "Not a surprise" X44 took first-ever Extreme E pole position

X44 driver Sebastien Loeb reckons “it’s not a surprise” he and Cristina Gutierrez landed the first-ever Extreme E pole position but accepted Rosberg X Racing was “faster than us”.

Loeb: "Not a surprise" X44 took first-ever Extreme E pole position

Loeb and Gutierrez were second-quickest in the opening qualifying time trial run on the 5.48-mile course in the AlUla desert in Saudi Arabia, after Loeb lost six seconds for running off line.

But the duo was beaten in the afternoon session by 4.7s courtesy of the unmatched run from RXR pair Johan Kristoffersson and Molly Taylor, only for the squad to lose pole to a penalty.

Nine-time World Rally champion Loeb told Autosport that he expected X44, which is run by Prodrive, to deliver early on but admitted that he and Gutierrez had held pace some back for the opening day.

He said: “It’s not a surprise. For sure, we were hoping to be able to fight for the victory here.

“But the fight [in qualifying] was really intense.

“The Rosberg team was really fast, maybe even a little bit faster than us overall.

“But we didn't also want to push too hard because we saw many crashes and problems.

“We were just hoping to do clean runs. It's what we did.”

Cristina Gutierrez, Sebastien Loeb, X44

Cristina Gutierrez, Sebastien Loeb, X44

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

RXR copped a 60-second time penalty when Taylor exceeded the 30km/h speed limit in the driver change over zone, which relegated the squad down to third in the combined times.

Loeb added that he had anticipated RXR, a development of the Team Rosberg DTM outfit, to be X44’s closest match prior to the season starting.

He told Autosport: “We expected our main rival to be Rosberg's team.

“I struggled with Kirstoffersson a lot of times in [World] rallycross. I know Molly is also very fast.

"At the end, they made a little mistake in their driver change and they got a penalty.

“I really had a fight with the car to keep it straight and keep it in line.”

Read Also:

Gutierrez, a spare-time orthodontist signed by Prodrive after impressing founder and chairman David Richards on the Andalucia Rally, said smooth runs were key as the course deteriorated with each lap.

“I'm very happy to the qualification because finally, we did the pole position.

“Because everyone had problems, mistakes, we did the very clear race and we were very happy.

“It's important be clear, especially in this track, because you have a lot of holes and drops.

“Each time we pass it's much worse, so it's important to be clear.”

Extreme E co-founder Alejandro Agag admitted, when asked by Autosport, it was a "not bad" for his championship that it had launched with the "good story" of Lewis Hamilton's X44 team topping the first qualifying shootout.

shares
comments

Related video

Lewis Hamilton’s X44 team tops qualifying for Extreme E Desert X Prix
Previous article

Lewis Hamilton’s X44 team tops qualifying for Extreme E Desert X Prix

Next article

Agag: “A miracle” so few cars broke in Extreme E qualifying

Agag: “A miracle” so few cars broke in Extreme E qualifying
Why McLaren has taken its unprecedented off-road left turn Plus

Why McLaren has taken its unprecedented off-road left turn

McLaren will be in distinctly unfamiliar territory this weekend as it makes its Extreme E debut. But this rugged left turn serves as a means to an end to inspire a greater good

Extreme E
Feb 18, 2022
How motorsport’s new eco series fared in its debut season Plus

How motorsport’s new eco series fared in its debut season

A brand new motorsport series with a disruptive credo will inevitably suffer teething problems. But the electric off-road series put on a spectacular show in its debut season and laid a positive foundation for the future, if manufacturers decide to follow suit

Extreme E
Jan 5, 2022
How Rosberg triumphed over Hamilton in 2021's final showdown Plus

How Rosberg triumphed over Hamilton in 2021's final showdown

The last hurrah of the 2021 motorsport season boiled down to another Nico Rosberg versus Lewis Hamilton head-to-head. As in 2016, it was the former who won out, his RXR Extreme E team prevailing in a tiebreaker following a tense final round of the all-electric off-road series at Dorset's muddy Bovington military base

Extreme E
Dec 20, 2021
How technical troubles detracted from Extreme E's Sardinia encounter Plus

How technical troubles detracted from Extreme E's Sardinia encounter

Extreme E has provided thrilling plot lines in its inaugural season, but numerous mechanical failures on the ODYSSEY 21 have detracted from the closely fought battles across various terrains. Sardinia's Island X-Prix set up a championship finale, but also underlined what Spark must do to fix the car for next season

Extreme E
Oct 26, 2021
How Extreme E’s Arctic adventure gave a chilly reminder of the fixes to find Plus

How Extreme E’s Arctic adventure gave a chilly reminder of the fixes to find

Extreme E’s third round provided the very definition of extreme conditions in the Artic Circle, and despite settling on a successful format and Andretti United taking a maiden win, there remains plenty of work to do with the spec cars that froze in action

Extreme E
Aug 30, 2021
Why McLaren’s surprise electric path can benefit everyone involved Plus

Why McLaren’s surprise electric path can benefit everyone involved

McLaren's announcement that it will enter the Extreme E series for electric SUVs next year came as something of a surprise. But it brings benefits that other championships it could seek to enter cannot, while providing a timely boost to a start-up that has had to cancel two of its South American rounds

Extreme E
Jun 13, 2021
Why Extreme E's Senegal round hints at the series' true potential Plus

Why Extreme E's Senegal round hints at the series' true potential

Extreme E's second round on the sands of Senegal refined some the more clunky aspects of the series' debut event in Saudi Arabia. Even though its star-studded finale between Lewis Hamilton's X44 team and Rosberg X Racing proved anticlimactic, the pieces are in place for the series to only get better

Extreme E
Jun 1, 2021
The key area where a start-up series is outdoing F1  Plus

The key area where a start-up series is outdoing F1

While there are those – including several major car manufacturers – who think Formula E has had its day, FE founder Alejandro Agag is continuing to innovate with the new Extreme E series. MARK GALLAGHER sees one element in which it has Formula 1 beaten

Extreme E
May 26, 2021