- The Spanish team led the first half of the Copper X Prix, but its driver switch was slowed by a swirl of sand, eventually falling to second place.
- Laia Sanz and Mattias Ekström are determined to fight back in the season finale to give ACCIONA | SAINZ XE Team its maiden Extreme E Championship.
ACCIONA | SAINZ XE Team will fight tomorrow for the 2023 Extreme E Championship after finishing second in the first round of Chile’s Copper X Prix, where the Spanish team has overcome a technical issue in the first Qualifying session that almost ended its title hopes.
Laia Sanz and Mattias Ekström now lie second in the standings, trailing leader Rosberg X Racing by six points. This Sunday’s X Prix will award a further 29 points that will be crucial to the resolution of the electric championship.
The Spanish team started the day with an electrical issue in Qualifying 1, caused by a short circuit that stopped the car on track. The problem was unrelated to the preparation of the car. In Qualifying 2, though, Laia and Mattias took an important victory that allowed them to move to the Grand Final of the X Prix.
The Grand Final offered a first-class spectacle and the Spanish team had the victory within rich.
Mattias Ekström made a blistering start to take the lead of the race in the first meters, chased closely by the car of Rosberg X Racing. Ekström led his entire stint, even into an incredibly tight entry into the driver switch, where he managed to gain a few meters.
Then, though, fortune turned against the team. An unfortunate swirl of sand picked up right where Laia Sanz was and, therefore, the driver was unable to see the clock that counted the seconds to return to the track. This pushed her back to second place.
Laia did not give up and chased down relentlessly the car of Rosberg X Racing in pursuit of an overtaking move that would have meant a race victory, but in the end, she had to settle for second place, just three-tenths behind RXR. Everything is still at stake for this Sunday’s final round.
Laia Sanz, driver:
“It’s obviously a bittersweet feeling after the Grand Final because the victory was close and we were unlucky in the driver switch because all of a sudden there was a sand storm. That’s where I lost the first place. I tried to make it back to the lead, but I didn’t manage to do it. The good thing is that both me and Mattias know that we had pace for more. We can be really happy that we are trailing by only six points because in the morning everything appeared to be much worse after the technical issue we encountered in the first Qualifying. We will give it all tomorrow. Everything is at stake and we have nothing to lose. We must go all in for the victory."
Mattias Ekström, driver:
"Today was the first day here in Chile. It started with some technical issues, but then we had a good Qualifying 2 and we managed to get in the Grand Final with a bit of luck. In the Grand Final, I managed to lead the race up until the driver switch, having a good battle with Johan. We were extremely unlucky with the storm in the pits, though. We lost the lead there. Laia had a big battle trying to come back to the win, but we ended in second place. We have lost the lead in the Championship, but everything will be decided tomorrow. We will go all in."
"An intense day filled with thrills from the very first minute. The car stopped on track in the first Qualifying session because there was an electrical short circuit due to an issue with a cable. This put us in fifth place. In Qualifying 2, though, we scored a win and we made it to the Grand Final by the narrowest margin. Coming second in the Copper X Prix feels like too little because we were the fastest car, but we had an issue with the driver switch. There was a lot of dust and that’s why Laia could not see properly the clock that told her the precise moment to head back to the track. In any case, I think we can still be very happy because, after such a tricky start to the day, there was a moment when dreaming of a second place was something impossible. The Championship will be decided tomorrow. It is the last race of the weekend and the last one of the season. Anything can happen, so I send all my energy to the team. Let’s keep fighting to bring home the title."
Joan Orús, Team Principal:
“The wheel of fortune has spun quite a lot, today. We started the day really bad with a horrible Qualifying 1 due to a technical issue that escaped our control. We thought for a moment that we were out of the championship, but fortune played in our favor in Qualifying 2 and we managed to get back and make it to the Grand Final. In the end, though, the wheel of fortune spun again. We were fighting for the win, but we were unlucky in the pits and we finished second. Nevertheless, the team is determined to fight for the Championship, as we have shown with our exceptional recovery from Qualifying 1 to the Grand Final. Tomorrow we will fight for the win.”