Extreme E team show strong speed in penultimate round of the season but ultimately fail to reach the final following spectacular crash for Sarrazin
Veloce Racing’s hopes of a second Extreme E podium were extinguished at the Island X Prix in Sardinia following a dramatic barrel roll in the aptly named ‘Crazy Race,’ at the weekend.
The London-based squad arrived in Italy with high hopes following the team’s efforts to the reach the final in Greenland, which ultimately fell short during Stéphane Sarrazin’s spirited excursion through the infamous ‘Rock Garden’.
Veloce got off to a strong start in Sardinia when Sarrazin and team-mate New Zealand rally driver Emma Gilmour topped the timesheets in the initial practice runs and eventually finished third in the session.
Qualifying 1 in Sardinia was arguably the team’s most competitive outing of the inaugural Extreme E season. Calm and committed runs from both Gilmour and Sarrazin saw the duo finish an impressive third just 18 seconds adrift of pacesetters X44.
The team carried this momentum into the second qualifying session of the day and looked on course for another promising result as Sarrazin kept pace with X44 during the early stages of his run.
It was not to be, however, with the ODYSSEY 21’s front suspension failing during the course’s unforgiving second sector, forcing Sarrazin to grind to a halt and slip out of contention.
The disastrous Qualifying 2 run meant that Veloce Racing was eighth overall – just three points shy of second place, highlighting the volatility of the Island X Prix – and would take part in the Crazy Race on Sunday.
The Crazy Race
As the lights went out for the Crazy Race, Gilmour’s lightning-quick reactions weren’t enough to withstand the advances of Kevin Hansen, in the JBXE car, who capitalised and took the optimum route.
The Kiwi seized the initiative and switched lanes, trying an alternate line to gain the advantage into the first gate. Unfortunately, it didn’t pay off and the Veloce Racing car slipped into third position.
Gilmour handed the reins over to Sarrazin hot on the heels of Christine GZ. The Frenchman immediately began applying the pressure to the Italian, and it paid off as the second-placed car pulled over with mechanical gremlins releasing Sarrazin to hunt down JBXE.
The attack was short-lived, however, as Sarrazin hit a dip and fired the back of the car up into the air, pitching the ODYSSEY 21 into a spectacular barrel roll. Mercifully, Sarrazin emerged from the wreckage unscathed, but the team’s aims of achieving a second Extreme E podium were over.
As a result of the crash, the Veloce Racing ODYSSEY 21’s chassis was compromised and subsequently, the team are unable to take part in next week’s Extreme E damper test and rookie test.
Emma Gilmour, Extreme E Driver, Veloce Racing said: “Absolutely gutted. Stéphane and I had such good pace this weekend and to end up in the Crazy Race was really disappointing to start with.
“Personally, I’m disappointed I didn’t get a better start, from then on we were struggling with the dust and I handed over to Stéphane in P3. He did a great job to get past Christine GZ but got caught out in the rough stuff, so I’m glad he’s OK but just really sad for the team as we had good pace this weekend and it started so positively.”
“In a quick turn-around, I am off to Wales this weekend to compete in the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally on Saturday. I’ll be teaming up with my former co-driver Claire Mole on-board a Ford Fiesta R5 MkII.”
“It’s been a long time between rally events for me and I can’t wait to see what Claire and I can achieve in this top level R5 car,” Gilmour says.
Media release by Emma Gilmour