ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team‘s Carlos Sainz Sr. and Laia Sanz will look to build upon their 2021 Extreme E campaign in 2022. On Thursday, the team announced the pair will return for the upcoming season.
The team’s red Odyssey 21 finished in a deadlock for fifth in the team championship with ABT CUPRA XE with 100 points apiece, though CUPRA held the edge with a higher best finish of second at the Island X-Prix to Sainz’s Arctic X-Prix third. Sainz XE made waves early on after qualifying second for the inaugural race in the Desert X-Prix before finishing fourth, and another top-three qualifying effort came at the Jurassic X-Prix season finale.
Sainz entered Extreme E with decades of success in the FIA World Rally Championship and Dakar Rally as a two-time champion in the former in 1990 and 1992 and quadruple winner of the latter (2010, 2011, 2020). His son Carlos Jr. is set for his second Formula One season with Scuderia Ferrari.
“It’s quite surprising how fast time flies because it seemed yesterday that we were about to embark on this thrilling adventure that has taken us all over the world with a unique message,” said Sainz. “All the members of the ACCIONA | SAINZ XE Team, also Laia and myself, are really looking forward to this new season in which we want to fight for everything. The experience we gained in 2021 must help us to take a step forward to start fighting for better results and even the Championship. I am really looking forward to the first X Prix in Saudi Arabia to show just how much we have progressed.
“The level of the Championship is really high, but we want to win and to send the strongest possible message about the importance of sustainability and respecting the environment.”
Extreme E marked Sanz’s début in four-wheeled racing after spending much of her career in rally raids on bikes. As a motocross rider, she won thirteen Women’s World Trial Championships between 2000 and 2013, with the lone non-title year being a runner-up in 2007, as well as the Women’s Enduro World Championship from 2012 to 2016. Like her team-mate, Sanz also has extensive Dakar experience, having finished every edition since her maiden attempt in 2011.
“I am really looking forward to the season opener in Saudi Arabia,” commented Sanz. “I think it will be a different year to 2021 because we are not starting from scratch. Now the team has experience with the Odyssey 21 and I have been able to do many kilometres on four wheels, so I am convinced that I will be able to help the team much more. In the last races of 2021, we already took a step forward in terms of performance and I think that this is promising for what is to come. This winter I was able to do my first Dakar Rally racing on cars and I believe this will also prove really positive for this Extreme E season.
“It is true that I still lack experience in the wheel-to-wheel fights, but I am getting used to them and I am convinced that this season will be much better for us and that we will fight for better results. The level of the Championship got much higher throughout 2021 and everything seems to suggest that this 2022 will be even tighter, so I am really looking forward to getting started.”
The two competed in the 2022 Dakar Rally in the Cars, with Sanz doing so for the first time after switching from the Bike category. Sainz finished twelfth in class for Team Audi Sport, while Sanz and her X-Raid team placed twenty-third.
Spanish by background, Sainz XE is one of three teams in the 2022 Extreme E Championship whose two drivers are of the same nationality: reigning champion Rosberg X Racing has an all-Swedish lineup of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky, while Chip Ganassi Racing fields a pair of Americans in Kyle LeDuc and Sara Price. Furthermore, CGR and Sainz’s drivers match nationalities with their respective teams (RXR races under a German banner).
“It makes me proud that we are doing this with a project that is entirely Spanish,” Sainz added.