Extreme E: Lewis Hamilton’s X44 team sets pace in Ocean X Prix qualifying in Senegal

Lewis Hamilton’s X44 team set the fastest time in qualifying for the Ocean X Prix in Senegal to set themselves up for a shot at a first race win in the series on Sunday.

Heading to the West African coast in Senegal for round two of the new climate-aware electric racing series, the nine teams competed for the fastest times across a two-part qualifying session on Saturday around the bumpy 6.3km shoreside track.

Hamilton’s line-up of rally legend Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez were quickest in both sessions, with their aggregated time giving them a 27.580 advantage over second-fastest Rosberg X Racing duo Johan Kristoffersson and Molly Taylor, the early championship leaders after victory in the inaugural event last month in Saudi Arabia.

The Spanish Abt Cupra team were third quickest and will join the Hamilton and Rosberg’s squads in Sunday’s first semi-final.

At the end of Qualifying, it's @TeamX44 on top!

Our top three head to Semi-Final 1, our middle three head to Semi-Final 2 and our bottom three will Shoot Out for the final points places.

Join us from 10:00 UTC tomorrow for the Semi-Finals!#ExtremeE #OceanXPrix pic.twitter.com/XlndGXS3JC

“Today’s qualification was obviously very good for us, I’m happy with my time and of course Cristina’s driving was incredible,” said Loeb, the legendary nine-time World Rally champion.

“The track for me was a lot more interesting than Saudi Arabia and I had a lot of confidence in the car which allowed me to go flat out all the time. Tomorrow will be a totally different way of racing, and we’re up against strong teams, so it’s difficult to say what will happen but I know we have the speed to win so I’m feeling good.”

X44 had set to be challenged by the Chip Ganassi entry in Qualifying Two before the American team, a close second fastest in the earlier session, hit weekend-changing trouble.

American Kyle Leduc was the quickest driver mid-way through his opening lap in the second session but his SUV suddenly lost power and ground to a halt.

Losing three minutes before he was able to restart the car, the American duly completed his lap before handing over to team-mate Sara Price but the delay meant they slipped to seventh and out of the running for the final.

They will head into Sunday’s earlier Shootout race for the final points, where they will join two other teams who were considered likely front-runners.

Andretti United were facing an uphill battle after a stoppage during Qualifying One, while the ASXE featuring rally legend Carlos Sainz failed to finish the first session due to mechanical problems. Although the Spanish team repaired the SUV for Q2, they finished ninth and slowest overall due to the earlier DNF.

What happens on Sunday?

There are four races on day two to determine the outcome of the weekend.

The top six finishers from Saturday’s qualifying sessions are split into two semi-finals, with the two finishers in each progressing through to the grand final at the end of Sunday’s event.

Positions seven to nine from qualifying take part in the Shootout race for the minor points.

When is live coverage on Sunday?

Watch the semi-finals and shootout from 11am on Sunday, while coverage of the final is at 5.30pm.

All the action is live on Sky Sports Action and Sky Sports Mix

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