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Extreme E Saudi Arabia

Tricky start to 2022 Extreme E season for Al-Attiyah and Kleinschmidt

A collision, a penalty, and much information gathered: the first round of the 2022 Extreme E competition hasn’t met CUPRA’s expectations.

Jutta Kleinschmidt, Nasser Al-Attiyah, Abt Cupra XE

The team couldn’t reach the final due to a penalty received after an incident between Nasser Al-Attiyah and Carlos Sainz.

Extreme E landed in Saudi Arabia last week for the opening round of the series' second season at Neom.

The 2022 season is supposed to be the turning point for CUPRA as both the line-up and the car are a winning pair.

The new Tavascan Extreme E will be the key to converting Al-Attiyah and Jutta Kleinschmidt’s talent into speed and competition.

However, things aren’t always easy and proof of it has been the first race of the calendar.

Jutta Kleinschmidt,  Nasser Al-Attiyah, Abt Cupra XE
Jutta Kleinschmidt, Nasser Al-Attiyah, Abt Cupra XE
Jutta Kleinschmidt, Nasser Al-Attiyah, Abt Cupra XE
Jutta Kleinschmidt, Nasser Al-Attiyah, Abt Cupra XE
Jutta Kleinschmidt, Nasser Al-Attiyah, Abt Cupra XE
5

It’s fair to say that both drivers were determined, motivated, and convinced at the beginning of the weekend.

Everything seemed to be at the right place until a mistake from Al-Attiyah.

When he was fighting, he somehow didn’t make a perfect start, needed some time to recover the gap and when he was overtaking rivals, a mistake prevented him from finishing.

Kleinschmidt perfectly summed up the events: “What a weekend for us! We’ve had a lot of ups and downs. We had a good start, we were happy with our pace and then Nasser missed the finish line, which put us completely at the back.

"Our hopes were focused on the second qualifying, and we managed to come back to the sixth position, which would put us in the semi-final.

"But then we got the penalty due to the incident between Carlos Sainz and Nasser, and that put us again at the back.

"We end up at the crazy race, we were really motivated to win it, we had a good strategy, and despite I came quite close, the suspension was quite damaged: the car was very bumpy because we had to change the shock absorber, we came close to the win, but it wasn’t enough."

Cristina Gutierrez, Sebastien Loeb, Team X44, Laia Sanz, Carlos Sainz, Sainz XE Team, and Jutta Kleinschmidt, Nasser Al-Attiyah, Abt Cupra XE.

Cristina Gutierrez, Sebastien Loeb, Team X44, Laia Sanz, Carlos Sainz, Sainz XE Team, and Jutta Kleinschmidt, Nasser Al-Attiyah, Abt Cupra XE.

Photo by: Alastair Staley / Motorsport Images

Nonetheless, it’s always important to look at the bright side, and the weekend was crucial in terms of performance: Nasser hadn’t driven the car before and showed some skills immediately.

He’d also never tried the format and, looking at the bigger picture, it’s more than fair to say he will adapt quickly to the competition.

Al-Attiyah was very optimistic at the end of the weekend: “It’s been a nice week because I’ve learned a lot despite the problems we’ve had. I’ve made some mistakes but overall, I’m happy after the first experience.

"I would like to thank the CUPRA team for this opportunity, we’ve shown our speed and I believe we can be strong and do much better at the upcoming rounds."

Besides the skills and the speed of Nasser, the ABT CUPRA counts on a driver that can move masses.

The Extreme E accounts showed how the public voted for the team to win the GridPlay Ceremony after getting a 39% of the votes (we kindly suggest you follow the page and check it out) thanks to Al-Attiyah and the people supporting him.

Nasser’s impact could be really great to spread the word about the Extreme E competition and get more people involved in following this new concept of races.

Jutta Kleinschmidt, Nasser Al-Attiyah, Abt Cupra XE.

Jutta Kleinschmidt, Nasser Al-Attiyah, Abt Cupra XE.

Photo by: Motorsport Images

And finally, there was a moment on Saturday that really represented the human side of the competition and deserves its recognition.

It was something warm and sincere, and it matched the spirit and the values of great athletes.

When driver Christine GZ suffered a huge crash on Saturday, Kleinschmidt went immediately to the medical centre to check on her colleague.

She represents the strength, the motivation, the passion, and the compassion that every motorsport athlete or just motorsport lover should count on.

We’ll have to wait and see how the season goes, but the positive thing for ABT Cupra is that after a difficult first round, things should go just better. The next race will take in Cerdeña in three months. It’s not how it started, but how it finished!

Jutta Kleinschmidt, Nasser Al-Attiyah, Abt Cupra XE.

Jutta Kleinschmidt, Nasser Al-Attiyah, Abt Cupra XE.

Photo by: Motorsport Images

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