Jerome D’Ambrosio cruises to victory on the final lap of the Marrakesh E-Prix after the two BMW iAndretti Motorsport drivers collided. D’Ambrosio now leads the championship, from Antonio Felix Da Costa, by just 11 points.
On Saturday the 12th January, we saw Sam Bird fly around the Marrakesh street circuit to put his car on pole position. This impressive lap time of 1:17.489 was set despite his car suffering a damaged diffuser after a strange incident in the pit lane with his teammate, Robin Frijns, and Tom Dillmann of NIO. Dillmann unfortunately hit the back of Frijns, who in turn bumped his teammate, Bird, as they were heading back into the pit lane after stage three of Qualifying. “I lost the breaks, I had no breaks at all so it was either I hit Robin [Frijns] or I hit a marshall on the pit lane so I took the choice to hit the car” Dillmann stated, explaining the incident to Pit Lane Reporter, Nicki Shields.
At lights out Bird managed to keep his lead, despite a desperate move from Jean-Eric Vergne which caused the two of them to touch. Vergne then spun and fell to the back of the pack, which created issues for the HWA AG Racelab Team as both their cars collided trying to miss Vergne. This then caused Stoffel Vandoorne to retire from the race before lap 1 had finished, meaning even more heartache for the Belgian after his retirement from the Ad Diriyah E-Prix. Vergne later voiced his disappointment over the lap 1 disaster, as he felt this move cost him the victory, “I should have won this race and that’s on me, guys”.
Despite starting in tenth position, D’Ambrosio was able to fight his way through after the first lap debacle to place himself fifth behind the two top running teams of Envision Racing Team drivers Bird (in first) and Frijns (in fourth) and BMW i Andretti Motorsport drivers Alexander Sims (in second) and Da Costa (in third). Both Bird and Sims were putting in amazing performances for a British 1-2 at the start of the race.
On lap 16, D’Ambrosio overtook both Bird and Frijns to make his mark in the top three. But then he had the Audi Sport ABT Shaeffler driver of Lucas DiGrassi with Attack Mode right on his tail, yet this did not seem phase the Mahindra driver as he kept his nerve and was able to stay in third place, looking to attack the BMW drivers in front.
Yet, only a mere 9 laps later, it was double disaster for the BMW team as a bold move from Sims saw him try and overtake his teammate, Da Costa. With both cars locking up and unsure of who was going to turn where, Da Costa could do nothing but concede the lead as his car hit in the wall in the runoff area. This allowed a fighting D’Ambrosio to launch past and take the lead, much to the excitement of his team and principal, Dilbagh Gill. “Man, I’m just holding my breath” Gill stated.
On the last and final lap of the race and after a last minute safety car, caused by a stricken Da Costa, both Envision Virgin Racing Team drivers were trying their absolute hardest to find a gap. Sims, the only top runner with Attack Mode remaining, was also fighting with the pack – but D’Ambrosio kept his cool and took his first on-track career victory in Formula E.
D’Ambrosio may have kept his cool in those final moments but as soon as he crossed that finish line, he showed his delight by shouting his feelings over the radio “I LOVE MAHINDRA”. Finishing the podium was Bird and Frijns, meaning double points for the Envision Racing Team.
In terms of the championship, D’Ambrosio is now leading by 11 points due to Da Costa’s non-finish, so we will have to see how things shape up in Santiago de Chile for the E-Prix on Saturday 26th January. Make sure to check out Overtake Motorsport for all the latest action and results.
Feature Image Credit: Mahindra Racing Website