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Andretti United Extreme E keeps its cool to claim victory as Arctic X Prix reaches thrilling crescendo

(via EXTREME E)

Andretti United Extreme E came out on top after a titanic battle with championship leaders Rosberg X Racing during Extreme E’s first-ever five-car Final. The Arctic X Prix in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, provided non-stop action from Shakedown on Friday all the way through to the dying moments of the all-important Final.

After a thrilling opening round in AlUla, Saudi Arabia, and then an epic battle on the beach in Lac Rose, Dakar, Senegal, the pioneering racing series had a lot to live up to when it arrived in Greenland for the country’s first-ever motorsport event, and it certainly delivered the goods.

It was the ever-popular Andretti United Extreme E pairing of Timmy Hansen and Catie Munnings which claimed a sensational victory over event-long adversaries Johan Kristoffersson and Molly Taylor who fell at the final hurdle, blowing the championship wide open in the process.

Timmy Hansen, Andretti United Extreme E said: “It feels awesome! It’s been a great afternoon and day! We’ve both had great races today and we had to work really hard for it. Catie [Munnings] did an amazing job both times. We both were involved in very close battles with the Rosberg X Racing car both times, it just feels incredible to be here.

“I think it (the course) was a good change (from yesterday) for the racing coming into today actually, it kept the grid very close and for a long time. So the course was good – it was getting very rutted in the narrow section and I had a couple of moments really on the limit in the Final and then I realised I had to back off a little bit and take it easy but yes it’s been a very fun track especially the second half because there are so many options.

“I’m really proud of Extreme E as a whole and of us coming here together, you know we are in the middle of nowhere in Greenland. Kangerlussuaq has I think 500 people living here and we arrived and everyone is doing their part. Pulling this massive event together is an incredible achievement and I think we are all the winners today.

“It’s the third race in a row where Kevin [Hansen] and I are on the podium, two times World Rallycross Championship and now Extreme E – that’s crazy!”

Catie Munnings, Andretti United Extreme E said: “I have literally no words for it. At the start of the weekend in Qualifying 1 we thought we’ll just go with it and see but we never imagined we’d come out on top so it’s a really special feeling. Timmy is a really incredible teammate, I learn so much from him, he’s such a good driver and obviously he always pulls it out of the bag so it’s really cool to be working alongside him.

“I loved the challenge of this course. I think it was really different to what we’ve seen before and a new challenge for the car as well. I think what was interesting was that it literally changed every time you saw it. Every car would chuck out massive rocks and so your line might not be there so it was a very spontaneous style of driving and I also found it very hard to judge what the correct speed was, you have to think a lot more especially if you’re the first driver. Credit to Sarrazin as well for sending it across the big rocks in the Semi-Final – I think that was one of my key moments of the weekend. Fair play, if that had been pulled off that would have been incredible.

“It’s the first motorsport event to come to Greenland so yeah it’s incredible that it’s at this level but I’m also really proud of how far we’ve come as a team especially from Senegal where we didn’t have a brilliant result so to come back now, it gives us a really good feeling going into the Island X Prix.”

The unforgiving Arctic X Prix course, combined with the series’ revised sporting format produced some of the most exciting racing yet with the 18 world-class drivers battling not only themselves, but the conditions and various track hazards en route to the finish line.

Adding an extra element of excitement to proceedings was the returning Super Sector, with the fastest driver over the course of the weekend earning themselves five extra points for the team. This weekend, it was eventual joint-winner Timmy Hansen who would also post the fastest time.

Extreme E’s first-ever five-car final was a mouth-watering prospect and the all-or-nothing showdown didn’t disappoint. A great start for Molly Taylor and Sébastien Loeb looked to set up the much-anticipated Rosberg X Racing vs X44 contest that fans had been waiting for. Catie Munnings had other ideas as the Brit used her Hyperdrive to snatch the lead. As she reached the first turn, the trio was three abreast with JBXE’s Kevin Hansen and ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team’s Carlos Sainz Snr. in hot pursuit.

Loeb seized the advantage as the pack raced through the single-file section of the course and past the lake. Munnings attempted to replicate her sensational move on Taylor from earlier in the day, as the pair were side by side through the Super Sector but the Australian would hang on to second as the field held station – albeit in tight formation – into the Switch Zone.

Disaster struck for the luckless X44 squad in the pits, discovering a puncture meaning the right rear wheel needed to be replaced. Loeb leapt into action along with his mechanic to get the job done but it would see the squad’s hard-earned 19-second advantage diminish to nothing.

Timmy Hansen in the Andretti United Extreme E machine emerged from the Switch Zone in the lead, closely followed by Johan Kristoffersson and Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky, leaving Laia Sanz and Cristina Gutiérrez to go wheel-to-wheel for the final two positions.

Kristoffersson immediately began applying pressure to his fellow World Rallycross Champion and by the time the pair had reached the far corner, it was time for the Rosberg X Racing car to make its move. The 32-year-old went for the wide line into the turn while Hansen defended, inevitably providing him with better exit speed and enabling him to draw alongside his rival. The duo remained doorhandle-to-doorhandle as they executed several of the course’s larger jumps in similarly exuberant fashion.

The Andretti United Extreme E car would come away from the encounter unscathed, the same could not be said for Rosberg X Racing’s ODYSSEY 21 however, as Kristoffersson ground to a halt having landed too aggressively in his attempt to snatch the lead.

A calm and collected Hansen crossed the line first giving Andretti United Extreme E their first win in the series and putting an end to Rosberg X Racing’s dominant Final form in 2021. Åhlin-Kottulinsky kept Hansen honest to claim the runner-up spot, finishing just four seconds behind while Sanz and Sainz Snr. completed the podium with a brilliant comeback drive.

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