- The rear left rack rod broke when the suspension compressed after a landing. Laia Sanz was attacking for a race win that would have brought the title to the Spanish team.
Cruel ending for ACCIONA | SAINZ XE Team in the 2023 Extreme E season. A mechanical failure cost the team the possibility to claim the title in the Grand Final of the Copper X Prix. The Spanish team therefore finished second in the standings with its best results to date: two maiden wins and four second places.
Laia Sanz and Mattias Ekström started the Copper X Prix II trailing the Championship leader by six points but cut the gap down to five by taking a race win in the first Qualifying session. This meant that the Spanish team needed to win the Grand Final or finish second and hope that its rival, Rosberg X Racing, was fourth or worst.
ACCIONA | SAINZ XE Team executed to perfection the start of the Grand Final, with a plethoric Mattias Ekström who did an immaculate start that put his car in first place. Meanwhile, its rival for the crown, Rosberg X Racing, was down to last place in fifth position.
Ekström made it to the driver switch as the race leader, but ACCIONA | SAINZ XE Team lost the lead during the operation in favour of Veloce Racing. Laia Sanz pressed hard from second place well aware that she needed to win to bring home the title, but the reliability of the Odyssey 21 played against her.
Following a jump, as the car landed on the ground and the suspension was compressed, the rear left rack rod broke down. Laia tried to continue with everything she had, but the mechanical failure ultimately prompted a spectacular crash that ended her race. Despite the violence of the impact, she was fine.
Laia’s aggressiveness at the wheel was necessary because Rosberg X Racing had recovered from its initial issues, hence only the win was enough to claim the title for ACCIONA | SAINZ XE Team.
Frustrated but proud, the Spanish team was the runner-up of the 2023 Extreme E Championship. It was also recognized with the Traction Challenge of the 2023 season, which is awarded to the team that clinches the most super sectors. In this case, three across the ten-event calendar.
Laia Sanz, driver:
"It is tough to lose a Championship like this. I have tried everything, but it was not enough. I lost the position at the exit of the switch zone and from then on I knew I had to push to get the win because the second place was not enough to be champions. If Rosberg finished third or better, like it ultimately did, the second was too short. I felt something strange in the car and something broke, and then I rolled over as I tried to return to the track. I am sorry for the entire team."
Mattias Ekström, driver:
"When you are so close to being champion, it always hurts. When you lead and you almost have it in your bag, in the end, it doesn’t matter why you didn’t get it. We have to congratulate Rosberg X Racing. They were slightly better than us and they made fewer mistakes, which is important in such a tight Championship. I have had fun in my return to Extreme E with the ACCIONA | SAINZ XE Team. Thanks to all the team members for all their hard work. Now it’s time to go back home and celebrate Christmas."
"It was not the end of the Championship that we were hoping for, but I am really proud of the team and what Mattias and Laia have done throughout the season. To suffer such a disappointment, first, we must get to the last race with a shot at winning. In hindsight, we likely lost the Championship in Sardinia when an electrical cable inexplicably broke and left us outside of the Grand Final. Motorsports sometimes play bad tricks on you, like today in the Copper X Prix, when we had everything to win. In the end, you can’t relax until you cross the chequered flag. In any case, I am really proud of the team and our drivers, and I also want to thank ACCIONA, Banco Santander and Asterra for all the support they have brought us this season as our sponsors."
Joan Orús, Team Principal:
"I am proud of the team. All the ten races were incredibly intense and we fought for the Championship up until the last lap of the last event. We showed that we are a winning team and that we had the pace. As a team, we knew how to clinch race wins and fight until the end, and also play with luck, which is also a part of life. We almost made it, but I am really proud of the team and our drivers."