After three flights and nearly 24 hours of travel (San Diego > Houston > Santiago > Calama) the FOX Motorsports team arrived in Chile for its second Extreme E race, armed with new parts, equipment, and a plan to support the suspension needs of all 10 teams.
Race location was at Minera Centinela (copper mine) between Calama and Antofagasta, Chile, a 90-minute commute each way from Calama. Altitude was nearly 7,500 ft. altitude (2,286 meters), with a daily temperature range from the low 30’s to low 70’s Fahrenheit daily temp range (0-22° C).
According to FOX Motorsports Program Manager Bryan Harrold, the racecourse was wide with a hard packed/smooth gravel type surface watered with sea water the mine uses in their operations, featuring several jumps and a banked turn.
“Similar to short course and rally cross tracks, but different from any other courses in the Extreme E series thus far and made for some very exciting racing,” he added.
Show and tell
“We added a cutaway of the front Internal Bypass shock and rear External Bypass shock as well as a Live Valve-equipped 4.4 External Bypass shock to the booth,” Harrold said. “All were a huge hit! Everyone wanted photos of the cutaway and the 4.4 consistently stopped people in their tracks as they walked by, wanting to know what it was used for.”
“After our first round of racing, we learned we needed some additional supplies and equipment, which were shipped via air along with a spare set of shocks, and some replacement and serviced shocks for the teams. That shipment required a 4- to 5-day lead time to Santiago by air, then an additional 4-day lead time via ground to the event site.
“Prototype part lead times were down to the wire, so they couldn’t be shipped in advance,” Harrold explained. “Instead, we had to hand carry them all in three Pelican cases on our flights to Chile, which presented a customs clearance delay in Santiago. After a couple hours stuck in customs and through the support of Extreme E’s logistics team, we were able to import the new parts and barely catch our last flight to Calama.”
“Since we can’t ship nitrogen, we must source it locally. Leading up to the event, we were connected by AFC Energy (who power the paddock with hydrogen) to their supplier. All was well until the supplier went dark a week before the race and we had nothing confirmed for nitrogen delivery to the site.
“Once we arrived in Calama, we went straight to an industrial gas supplier who could not help us but referred us to a couple other places, which we could not find,” he added. “Luckily, at dinner we struck up a conversation with Raul, a local Chilean, and told him our dilemma. He had a buddy, Rodrigo, that he contacted the next day that was able to get us a huge bottle from his friend’s auto shop that we squeezed into our rental car. Totally saved the week for us! We wouldn’t have been able to do any of the upgrades or any major repairs onsite without it.”
Chile featured two rounds of free practice, single car qualifying for all 10 cars, two 5-car qualifying heats, two 3-car semi-finals, a 4-car crazy race (last chance qualifier) and a 5-car final race.
Each event provided two laps per driver (four total per team). The extra laps and course layout provided for some awesome door-to-door battles.”
“Everyone seemed very pleased with the performance of the shocks, and we were able to provide tuning advice for several teams that were pleased with the results from all input,” Harrold said.
Sébastien Loeb and Cristina Gutiérrez (X44 Vida Carbon Racing) took their first victory of the season in a dramatic first X Prix Final in Chile for Extreme E.
Loeb and Gutiérrez finished second on course, despite Gutiérrez achieving the quickest lap in the Final, but penalties for on track winners NEOM McLaren Extreme E dropped the team down the standings.
A dramatic twist saw No.99 GMC HUMMER EV Chip Ganassi Racing enter the Final as first reserve, after technical issues robbed championship leaders Rosberg X Racing (RXR) a shot at securing the title this weekend.
The American team had finished the race in third, but in pushing hard to make the most of the opportunity they received a penalty for missing a waypoint which subsequently put No.99 GMC HUMMER EV Chip Ganassi Racing off the podium and into fourth.
Following the penalties for NEOM McLaren Extreme E and No.99 GMC HUMMER EV Chip Ganassi Racing, ACCIONA|SAINZ XE Team took second place and ABT CUPRA XE secured their first podium of Extreme E Season 2 with third.
Next stop: Energy X Prix in Punta Del Este, Uruguay November 22-27.
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