Mahindra Racing leapfrogs to top with d’Ambrosio win

Kirti Patil
Monday, 14 January 2019

In one of the most manic races in Formula E history, d’Ambrosio won ahead of Virgin Racing’s Robin Frijins and Sam Bird, who battled through the chaos to keep their place on the podium.

PUNE: Indian tricolour flew high in Marrakesh on Saturday evening thanks to Belgian Jerome d’Ambrosio clinching his first chequered flag in his five-year-long Formula E career that catapulted Mahindra Racing to the top of the FIA Formula E leader-board.

In one of the most manic races in Formula E history, d’Ambrosio won ahead of Virgin Racing’s Robin Frijins and Sam Bird, who battled through the chaos to keep their place on the podium.

After starting from tenth in the second round of Formula E championship, the Belgian earned the spoils for the Indian team for the second year in a row on the Moroccan track.

Jerome, who scored a podium last time out in Saudi Arabia, and Pascal Wehrlein piloted the two M5Electros, and despite one getting involved in a crash, Mahindra Racing had a reason to celebrate as they leap-frogged in the overall standings going into the Round 3.

Seconds after the lights turned green, second place starter Jean-Eric Vergne (Techeetah) spun on Turn 1 after trying to take leader Sam Bird on the inside. Spinning, Vergne slipped down to 19th place. Frustrated, the reigning champion spun around and fought on, determined to reclaim lost ground. 

Just seven minutes into the race, Racelab’s Gary Paffet damaged his car hitting his teammate Stoffel Vandoorne, sending both drivers out of the race. At the same time, Mahindra’s Wehrlein pulled into the pits reporting technical issues. All three drivers race was ended after less than 10 minutes.

Qualifying groups this year are determined in championship order so, after his third place podium finish in Saudi Arabia last month, Jérôme headed out in Group 1, while Pascal was in Group 4.

Jérôme set a fastest lap of 1:18.440 to secure a fifth row starting position from tenth. Pascal narrowly missed out on Super Pole on his Formula E qualifying debut, setting a lap time of 1:18.126 to line up seventh on the grid from the fourth row.

On Turn 4, Bird’s defence wasn’t enough to keep the BMW’s at bay and da Costa took the lead with Sims passing Bird to take second. Bird held third while his teammate Frijns remained in fourth, defending from the advances of Mahindra Racing’s d’Ambrosio and Lucas di Grassi of Audi Sport.

Making use of ATTACK MODE, di Grassi had climbed up from sixth to fourth place before the extra 25kW of power ran out, looking to make a move on d’Ambrosio in third with 16 minutes of the race left.

With Frijns and d’Ambrosio locked in a fierce battle for third, the BMW’s were out in front. Engaging ATTACK MODE, Frijns and d’Ambrossio closed the gap before Sims took out his teammate coming into Turn 7 in a disastrous bid for the lead, leaving da Costa devastated and in the wall.

With the Saftey Car deployed, the field regrouped with minutes remaining. With one lap remaining and no Saftey Car Frijns climbed up to second - the pack nose to tail.

D’Ambrosio, defending his lead, crossed the line in first, screaming down the radio, ecstatic with the first time he’s taken the chequered flag in his Formula E career.

- JeromeD’Ambrosio wins the 2019 Marrakesh E-Prix, the second consecutive win for Mahindra Racing in Morocco
- Jerome now leads the FIA Formula E Championship, with Mahindra Racing second in the Manufacturer’s battle
- After qualifying in a strong seventh on his Formula E debut, Pascal Wehrlein was forced into retirement after being hit on the first lap.

This is an amazing way to finish the second race. I’m so happy for the team; everyone has worked so hard and I’m proud to be a part of Mahindra Racing. I’m really happy and it’s great to be leading the championship early on. It’s a good motivational tool for everyone and now we have to keep on working hard. 
— Jerome d’Ambrosio (Race winner)

Marrakesh is definitely a special place for us and to win here two years in a row is something that I’m very proud of. The whole team did a fantastic today and Jerome drove a mature, brilliant race to give us this win. We had a great strategy and used Attack Mode in some clever places. While we enjoy, we now turn our attention to Santiago and the objective of having both cars finish well.”
— Dilbagh Gill (Team Principal)

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