Despite a near failure in the Extreme E title, Veloce Racing was inspired by the 2023 rise

By | December 22, 2023

“If you had told me last year that with three wins we would be P3 in the championship – the highest number of wins – I would have taken it,” says Veloce Racing CEO Dan Bailey – who was in a surprisingly positive mood about the Extreme E season, as his team fell at the final hurdle in its quest to become champions of the electric off-road series.

But considering the huge strides the team has made this year, that shouldn’t be a surprise at all.

After achieving one podium result in two years and having a revolving door of high-profile drivers, the team realized it needed to make big changes. Ahead of the 2022 finale, it brought in Season 1 champion Molly Taylor and World Rallycross frontrunner Kevin Hansen. Both drivers were bound to long-term contracts, which indicated the team’s intent. And it delivered immediate results, with the team reaching the final for the first time in 2022 in the pair’s first appearance with the team.

It was the perfect springboard for 2023, which started with a first win in Saudi Arabia and a second place the next day. Veloce had gone from an underachiever to the team to beat overnight. Only it didn’t happen overnight: it was a process that started halfway through the previous season.

Before Taylor and Hansen arrived, the team had gone seven events in 2021 and ’22 without making the finals, with the two rounds in Sardinia in ’22 – where the team had hoped to bounce back and kick-start the campaign with a car-destroying crash in Saudi Arabia for the second year in a row – proving crucial to the team’s need to reset.

“I think Sardinia was a low point for our team last year and we made some pretty brutal decisions about what we needed to change to be competitive,” Bailey explained to RACER. “It included not just the drivers, but the management structure of the entire team and this year you’ve really seen that come to fruition in the way we performed.”

Colin McMaster/Motorsport Images

The changes to the team also came during the evolution of the series. Originally intended as a sort of longer distance formula with single and multi-car elements, Extreme E switched to a more rallycross-like format.

“I think the series has changed a bit from what we initially thought the skills would be, which is probably more Dakar spec, really big circuits, changing terrain, which is what made us go for Lance. [Woolridge, a multiple cross-country rally champion] He is a fantastic driver, but has slightly different skills than Kevin,” Bailey explains. “As the series has evolved it has shifted towards a bit more skill in rallycross specification.

“We have had to make decisions to ensure that we can become as competitive as possible. We made some decisions with drivers and certain team members that didn’t necessarily fit the series in terms of what we expected, but I’m proud of the fact that we reacted and reacted and brought in the right people to do that.

“And that’s not to say that the people we had before weren’t right for what we thought the series was – the series has evolved and we had to evolve with it.”

Hansen believes that when he arrived at the team, the key ingredients were in place, but their execution needed work, and a comfortable working relationship with Taylor allowed them to accelerate the team’s development.

“Me and Molly came in [and] we really clicked and made so much progress,” says Hansen. “Together with the team we have really found our match, which is a very nice feeling

“This season was so natural for us to go out and do our thing. We have been very constructive and to the point with what we want to do. We definitely had some reality checks, but that’s part of building a winning team.”

Veloce’s Molly Taylor and Kevin Hansen celebrate their victory in Chile earlier this month. Andrew Ferraro/Motorsport Images

Those reality checks included broken windshield wipers and power steering gremlins in Sardinia, where the team reached the final just once in four attempts; and in Chile, where on the penultimate day of the season, crash damage and resulting mechanical problems prevented them from challenging for victory – a result they would ultimately achieve a day later once their fate in the championship had already been sealed.

“I still believe that without the mechanical problems we had, we would have been able to try and win the championship,” Bailey stressed. “We did everything we could to be successful, but more importantly, it was within our power.

“All we can do is maximize the situation in front of us. Every time we had a situation, we maximized it. So you can’t get too caught up in the external factors that could affect the team. You just have to be completely focused on what you can do – and in this series more than most, because the number of external factors in this series is large. more than any other racing series in the world.”

Rumors are swirling about who will go where in Extreme E for next season, but Veloce will retain Taylor and Hansen – one of only two teams so far to have confirmed they will continue with their 2023 drivers, along with Andretti Altawkilat, who uses Hensen’s brother Timmy along with Catie. Munnings. Veloce hopes that the continuity will once again give the team the edge it had this year.

“We will have the same drivers, the same technical equipment – ​​we are completely ready for next year, and that is why we made the quite big decision to change our drivers and some of our team personnel before the end of last year. ,” says Bailey. “I think with continuity, as long as you have talent, you have a better chance of success – and for next year there is nothing I would change.”

While the team will pick up where it left off, Hansen emphasizes that doesn’t mean it will become complacent.

“It is clear that we will not stand still. We will try to make the necessary adjustments to ensure that as a team we are as perfect as possible and can work very hard during the winter,” he added. “Extreme E is so spread out that you have to work hard between each round. It’s the same amount of time for Season 4, Race 1, as it is for Season 3, Race 4, so it’s really a different kind of championship.

“I’m looking forward to the winter to build and improve and I think we have a sweet tooth after winning the last round of the season. It really puts a smile on everyone’s face to have the energy and passion to work all winter long.”

The story originally appeared on Racer

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