Cristina Gutierrez showed true talent racing Extreme E Round One for X44 Team

Cristina Gutierrez showed true talent racing Extreme E Round One for X44 Team

Cristina Gutierrez showed true talent racing Extreme E Round One at Al Ula in the weekend with paired driver Sebastien Loeb for X44 Team. Making all important adaptation to navigate the Series Odyssey 21 SUV across desert terrain against the world’s most toughest competition, Cristina pulled out all capabilities learnt over course of her racing career.

X44 Cristina Gutierrez and Sebastien Loeb taking pole in Qualifying. Photo Credit: Extreme E

Right from shakedown through to Qualifying sessions, Cristina raced the all electric beast with calm precision resulting in the Team taking pole position heading into semi-final and then reaching Final Race the following day. The fact that making it through to Final 3-car duel with dust significant factor for visibility, held no bearing on Cristina delivering ultimate ‘no mistake’ performance resulting in X44 Team taking 2nd Overall for Round One.

Breaking down Cristina’s performance requires more than just superficial rehash of racing on track. The Spanish driver has developed one-hellava- tough resilient character through-out her off-road racing career. Take for example competing in Dakar Rally Car category in 2018 when alotta problems occurred:

‘”On stage five, we broke both radiators, at the front and rear. We had to wait several hours for our assistance truck in order to repair them. Then later on we broke the alternator belt, so we had to replace it with the spare, but that one broke too. We had to cut one in two to cover the last 50 kilometres at almost snail’s pace, but the main thing is that we reached the finishing line in the evening. Anyway, I’ll get to the finish even if I have to push the car”’.

Or, facts that Cristina holds 5x Spanish All Terrain Rally Championship Women’s category, was the first Spanish female to complete Dakar Rally in Car category and won 2021 Dakar Rally Stage One in Lightweight Vehicle category breaking record held by Jutta Kleinschmidt who won Dakar Stage in 2005.

So, what does it actually mean to Cristina to compete in Extreme E Series with highly-respected driver Sebastien Loeb all under the wings of Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Team? Cristina: ‘For me, being chosen to race for X44 in Extreme E is so exciting because I see it as taking a big leap in my professional sports career’.

X44 Team Cristina Gutierrez and Sebastien Loeb Photo Credit: X44

‘Racing for X44 gives me this opportunity to learn beside a legendary driver Sebastien Loeb, and I think it shows I can compete at the highest level. I am listening to the advice Sebastien gives me and learning what I can. And, of course we have Lewis as the Team boss who has been really supportive’.

Taking into account the skills and experience Cristina has clocked up over number of years, fact still remains that racing new Series, with all electric vehicles within new race format is ultimate test of driver performance on track. All Teams and drivers started from level playing field- so what makes those rise to the top or struggle with odds handed out?

Cristina: ‘I have a lot of experience in Off Road racing which I know is going to serve me well as we face all different levels of terrain and challenges over the Series. And, I’ve competed in cars that are similar in some ways to the Odyssey 21 SUV so that is something I am trying to make the most of’.

‘I know I have a very good ability to adapt, which is so important in a Series like this where you don’t have a lot of time to test the car ahead and where there is a different terrain every time you race. You always want as much time as you can to practice but when you don’t have that it is the drivers who adapt the best who will come out strongest’.

Cristina Gutierrez and Sebastien Loeb racing for X44 Team. Photo Credit: Extreme E.

If there was one stand-out trait in Cristina’s character it would be her innate ability to analyze how best to approach each race time on track. Buoyed by the saying, ‘one is only as good as their last result’, Cristina would represent ultimate role model on what to focus on, why and when. Inspiring as this is, Cristina re-sets limiter button on next Extreme E Rounds of racing.

Cristina: ‘I think all Rounds will have their own challenges, with Desert X Prix for example we saw that visibility was a big issue, which I hope will be less of a problem at other races. The one I see as the biggest challenge for me personally is Greenland, as I’ve never raced on ice before so it’s something I will need to adapt to very quickly’.

Header photo: Cristina Gutierrez Extreme E Round One. Photo Credit: X44.

Extreme E Round 2 Ocean X Prix, Senegal May 29-30th.

Words: Sharon Cox.

 

 

 

 

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