Lewis Hamilton’s X44 team with rally legend Sebastien Loeb topped Extreme E’s first qualifying session in the Desert X Prix after Nico Rosberg’s team received a time penalty.
In the second of Saturday’s time trials in the desert of Saudi Arabia, Rosberg’s team – featuring Molly Taylor and Johan Kristoffersson – again set the pace from Hamilton’s outfit, this time by four seconds across the two challenging 9km laps.
But the former F1 champion’s team were given a 60-second penalty for speeding in the ‘switch’ area, where team-mates change over in the car from one lap to the other.
It dropped Rosberg X Racing to third in the aggregated classification, behind X44 and the Spanish outfit featuring former World Rally champion Carlos Sainz.
After qualifying one at a time on Saturday, the field will be split into three three-car races on Sunday morning to determine who competes in the Desert X Prix final later on Sunday.
The top three qualifiers – X44, Acciona | Sainz, and Rosberg – will take part in Sunday’s first semi-final. The top two finishers in this race will qualify for the final.
Positions four through six qualify for the ‘Crazy Race’, with the winner of that to take up the final position in the main final.
That will feature Jenson Button’s JBXE entry after the 2009 world champion finished sixth in qualifying. Button and team-mate Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky were hit with a 175s time penalty for their own speeding offence, but clung on to a top-six position as none of the three remaining cars ran.
The bottom three from qualifying form the ‘Shootout’ race on Sunday. But it remains uncertain how many of those will still take part.
Veloce Racing have withdrawn from the event entirely due to the damage sustained to their electric SUV car after Stephane Sarrazin’s big crash in first qualifying.
“Following a review by the team and the officials, it has been deemed that it is unsafe to continue due to irreparable damage to the Odyssey-21 chassis,” said a team statement.
“Stephane Sarrazin escaped unharmed.”
The ABT team continue to repair their chassis after Claudia Hurgten’s double roll during the morning, while the Chip Ganassi entry ran into fresh technical problems ahead of their scheduled run.
The three semi-finals take place on Sunday morning from 7am, live on Sky Sports Action, Mix and Main Event. The Final starts at 11am on Mix and Action.
More to follow…
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