Rosberg X Racing (RXR) came tantalisingly close to securing back-to-back Extreme E championship titles. However, an incident-packed Uruguay Natural Energy X Prix in Punta del Este meant Nico Rosberg’s outfit ultimately came up short in the championship decider – losing out by two points to Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing.
Here’s how the Season 2 title slipped away from RXR’s grasp.
Nico Rosberg’s outfit entered the weekend in Uruguay as favourites, 17 points ahead of their closest contenders, and eventual Season 2 champions, X44 Vida Carbon Racing. However, a series of unfortunate events for the team denied them their second Championship title in Extreme E.
The misfortune began in Q1 on Saturday, following a roll for their ODYSSEY 21 during Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky’s second lap. After going through an intricate corner by Waypoint 19, the car flipped, and the resultant accident ruled the team out of the rest of the session.
Despite the setback, RXR showed a masterclass in resilience by getting the car ready in time for Q2.
The session started well with Johan Kristoffersson taking the lead initially. However, a collision with ABT CUPRA XE’s Nasser Al Attiyah caused the Swedish driver to spin. Kristoffersson recovered to get back on course, but there was too much damage and RXR were forced to retire from their Q2 Heat – capping off a disastrous Saturday and ensured they would have to compete in the Crazy Race on Finals Day.
Here, they would face their direct championship contenders, X44 Vida Carbon Racing, head-on for a place in the Final and with the chance secure back-to-back titles.
The Crazy Race was set to be dramatic and, despite a strong start, Åhlin-Kottulinsky was pipped by X44 Vida Carbon Racing’s Cristina Gutiérrez and had to make do with second at the first turn.
RXR’s title hopes were soon rocked yet further, as contact with JBXE’s Hedda Hosås caused significant damage to Åhlin-Kottulinsky’s ODYSSEY 21. The Swede somehow managed to get back to the Switch Zone, where the RXR mechanics worked hard to get their damaged ODYSSEY 21 back out into the race in search of essential points.
Kristoffersson stood pensively on the sidelines as the team worked frantically to fix their damaged car. Nico Rosberg’s team appeared to have done the impossible as Kristoffersson set off from the Switch Zone after lengthy repairs, but RXR were soon disqualified for a Switch Zone infringement after having too many mechanics working on the car at the driver change.
This left the team watching on anxiously as the Final got underway, with X44 Vida Carbon Racing needing to finish third or higher to snatch the title away from RXR.
That they did in a dramatic conclusion to the season in Punta del Este, with X44 Vida Carbon Racing’s Gutiérrez and Sébastien Loeb finishing in third place to take a maiden championship title.
For RXR, having lead the standings for so long and been so strong for much of Season 2, it was heartbreak as the checkered flag fell in Uruguay.
Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky, RXR, said: “The weekend was incredibly tough, and naturally, this is not what we had expected. But I want to focus on the positives: we had a very strong season overall and can be proud of our performance. The team has done such an amazing job and gave us the best possible car, so I am very thankful to them, as well as our fans.”
Throughout 2022, RXR remained the team to beat and demonstrated their speed throughout – breaking X44 Vida Carbon Racing’s stranglehold of the top qualifier spot, as well as two X Prix victories and securing three Continental Traction Challenge wins.
They will no doubt be a force when Season 3 kicks off on 11-12 March 2023 in NEOM, Saudi Arabia.
Johan Kristoffersson, RXR, said: “We would have liked to fight for the Championship in Uruguay and we are disappointed that we didn’t take part in the battle to show our best. But that’s racing. And while it is frustrating to lose out on the title at the last minute, we are also proud of our overall achievement and we will fight again in 2023.”
Kimmo Liimatainen, RXR Team Principal, added: “This is obviously a devastating end to our Championship dreams. But second place is still something to be proud of.
“I want to thank our world class drivers who gave it their all the entire season, our team of technicians and engineers who defied the odds by getting our car back up and running, our partners who share our vision for a more sustainable future, the team behind-the-scenes, and of course… our incredible fans. We will be back.”
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