Taylor victorious in Extreme E opener


Molly Taylor and Kevin Hansen claimed victory in the 2023 Extreme E season-opener

Molly Taylor and Kevin Hansen have claimed victory in the opening round of the 2023 Extreme E season in Saudi Arabia.

The 2021 Extreme E title winner and her Veloce Racing team-mate were elevated to victory after a post-race penalty for Nico Rosberg-led Rosberg X Racing in the first of two rounds held in Neom, Saudi Arabia over the weekend.

Taylor paid credit to the hard-work of the team since last year’s season-finale in Uruguay, where she finished fifth on her return to the category.

“I think all of us in the team began clicking right from the beginning and developing and improving,” she said.

“We were able to start at a really good level in Uruguay from there they’ve been really good at bringing the best out of every aspect that we look into,” she said.

“Our Team Principal Luc [Alphand] knows what it takes to win, having that faith in someone like that, who’s got the scores on the board, who knows what you’re feeling, and knows how to translate that into results, I think that’s a real advantage for us.”

Round 1 wrap-up

En route to the Grand Final, the Veloce Racing duo topped the combined practice timesheet with a 11:27.589s set in Free Practice 2 around the 3.4-kilometre course.

From there, the duo finished second in Qualifying 1 Heat 2 and first in Qualifying 2 Heat 1 to book a spot in the Grand Final.

At the start of the finale, Hansen slotted into second place behind Rosberg X Racing’s Johan Kristoffersson, handing over to Taylor in the same position at the driver change.

The 2016 Australian Rally Championship winner set about chasing Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky in the Rosberg X Racing entry, remaining close to the front before running wide and dropping away from the lead.

Ahlin-Kottulinsky took the chequered flag ahead of Taylor, with Sainz XE Team’s Laia Sanz and Mattias Ekstrom finishing third after briefly leading during the piece.

However, the result would not stand, with a 136-second penalty elevating Taylor/Hansen to victory for Veloce Racing, with the Sainz XE Team duo of Sanz/Ekstrom second, with Rosberg X Racing’s Kristoffersson/Ahlin-Kottulinsky dropping to third.

Taylor backs up victory with second in Round 2

Taylor and Hansen backed up their victory in Round 1 with a strong qualifying performance and second-place finish in Round 2, as the Sainz XE Team entry of Sanz and Ekstrom secured victory.

The Carlos Sainz Snr.-owned outfit controlled the race, as Veloce Racing’s Taylor/Hansen and RXR’s Kristoffersson/Ahlin-Kottulinsky battled for the final two spots on the podium.

In the lead-up to that, Veloce Racing topped both Qualifying 1 Heat 1 and Qualifying 2 Heat 1, as well as the Traction Challenge.

As the flag dropped in the Grand Final, Ekstrom charged into the lead as Hansen passed Kristoffersson for second place.

An error from Hansen saw him drop to third, after hitting the pit limiter during the race, before he re-claimed second position after taking a wider line in overtaking Kristoffersson ahead of the driver change.

Sanz led the way from the driver change, remaining unheaded as Taylor held off Ahlin-Kottulinsky for second after racing race side-by-side in the aftermath of the swap.

New Zealander enjoys success in Redemption Race format

Despite not making the Grand Final in both rounds, New Zealand’s Emma Gilmour enjoyed success in the Redemption Race that settled the order between sixth to 10th, with her McLaren Extreme E Team winning the Redemption Race in Round 1, before finishing the same encounter second in Round 2.

The 2023 Extreme E season will continue in Scotland on May 13-14.


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