September 25, 2023

Kristofferson and Ahlin-Kottulinski channel Michael Scott in Sardinia

“How the turntables” – famous words once spoken by Michael Scott of Steve Carell, but also poignant words in the case of the Extreme E Island X Prix 2023.

A year ago, the series hosted its first-ever doubleheader event on the Italian island. The first round of the weekend was won on the road by Rosberg X Racing, only for a penalty to snatch that win and hand it over to Chip Ganassi Racing. A year later we saw something of a repeat, albeit with the tables turned – Ganassi were the winners on the road, but RXR were declared the winners.

It was a dominant display from GMC Hummer EV Chip Ganassi Racing’s new-for-2023 lineup of RJ Anderson and Amanda Sorensen. The duo are gaining speed with every session they’ve run this year, culminating in a maiden podium at the Hydro X Prix in Scotland, the last time they came out. This time, in Sardinia, where the team won for the first time a year ago (with previous drivers Kyle LeDuc and Sara Price), the team was all set to take another step and claim its first win of the year.

After a skirmish at the start with Andretti Altawkilat’s Timmy Hansen and RXR’s Johan Kristoffersson, Anderson shot into an early lead, handing a clean car and comfortable advantage to teammate Amanda Sorensen, who held that advantage for the second half of the race.


The team exited the driver change area a fraction of a second before the mandatory 45 seconds, resulting in a penalty of 15.7 seconds for the team – 15 seconds penalty, plus the advantage they were deemed to have gained.

The penalty – a vicious twist on what had been a fantastic highlight of this new couple’s progress during the year – immediately drew comparisons to the same race a year ago, where it was Ganassi who capitalized on RXR’s own setback on that occasion.

The irony was not lost on Kristofferson.

“I think I crossed the finish line first in every race in Sardinia. Now we didn’t cross the finish line first,” he told RACER with a smile, after being declared the winner together with teammate Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky after crossing the finish line second.

“That’s the point – you have to be precise in these things and if you want to gamble a little bit with it… But you don’t want to be too safe on the safe side. But if you’re on the other side you get this penalty , so it’s about getting all those pieces together, making everything right and being quick,” she added.

Painful as the lost victory was for the Ganassi duo, both Anderson and Sorensen were quick to point out the obvious positives.

“Well, obviously it’s a tough one, but I think it shows that at least we have good pace,” said Anderson. “We’ve slowly gotten faster over the past year – that’s a shame. We obviously worked hard, so… to cross the line first and get put back, it’s still a podium, still a step in the right direction. We just try to do all the little things right. It’s Extreme E – anything can happen here, so to consistently run up front with the fast guys, it’s still our first year, we’re learning, hopefully that luck will come another time when we get the good break.

“It’s a podium, two back-to-back podiums, it’s good for our team and we’ll get back to work for round six.”

Sorensen added, “RJ held onto it from the start. It looked really cool and I gave him a pep talk. I said, “Don’t lift, because I didn’t lift, so you can’t lift,” and our plan worked. He gave me a good clean car, right outside the door. I got in the car and I knew the pressure was on given that Catie (Munnings) had a little hole on me. I just had to make no mistakes. The track was absolutely unpredictable, super slippery out there, and a bit bummed that we were third.

“There’s always tomorrow and it’s definitely a learning curve for the team, but it is what it is and we’ll get them tomorrow.”

While it’s easy to paint the picture of one team inheriting another’s well-deserved victory, that would be doing a disservice to RXR, who didn’t even seem to finish, much less finish, after the first corner on the first lap. to win.

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“I don’t think anyone expected that,” Ahlin-Kottulinsky noted.

That contact between Ganassi, RXR and the Andretti entry resulted in Kristoffersson being fired way off-line and coming to a complete stop.

“I didn’t have a good start,” he admitted. “The starting line was really wet gravel so the start wasn’t very good so I was about five feet behind Acciona (Sainz) and Abt (Cupra) but then Mattias (Ekstrom) fell back and then I was a bit too wide and hit a bump and went wide even more coming out of turn 1.

“I got a really, really hard hit under the car, so I thought maybe the car was going to break down, so I came to an absolute stop after a while — I wasn’t sure if there were rocks or stuff in the bushes.”

Kristoffersson was seconds away from giving up, but he said, “We felt like we had nothing to lose,” so he got the team back on track – literally. The water on the track, laid down for the final, also gave them hope.

“Then I thought, ‘I might as well try to go’ just before I unfastened the seat belts and jumped out. And then I started riding and the conditions were very different and very tricky and I think that helped a lot as I came in. I had nothing to lose and rode as fast as I could.

“Obviously it was quite tricky when I overtook Loeb with the puncture, tried to pass him safely and at the end of the second lap I managed to pass Mattias, so that was a good run, and then I caught him again in. into the switch behind Timmy and left the car to Mikaela.

After picking off those in front one by one, Ahlin-Kottulinsky had to continue the chase, aided by Kristoffersson’s knowledge gained during the first half of the race.

“He (Kristoffersson) was really finding the right lines, able to test different lines, find really good ones and in the switch he gave me that information… I said ‘Copy’ and did as he told me to do,” Ahlin – said Kottulinsky. “That’s the key to the championship: it’s about teamwork between the drivers and of course the whole team and they gave me really good information.

Before long Ahlin-Kottulinsky was trailing Andretti’s Catie Munnings, who was running in second place, and although she was able to pass the Briton, the contact between the two left Munnings in trouble.

“First of all, I’m glad Catie is doing well,” Ahlin-Kottulinsky said. “While riding I did what Johan told me to do and I felt I had a good pace, and then the opportunity was there to overtake Catie. Then I heard there was a penalty for Ganassi.”

The win ends an unusually long drought for Extreme E’s most successful team. The season one champions won five of ten races in the championship’s first two years, but were no longer on the top step of the podium since the second race in Sardinia just over a year ago, which they won without stewards. intervention.

“We didn’t expect that, but it feels great to be back and we showed good pace too,” said Ahlin-Kottulinsky.

Story originally appeared on Racer

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