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Mortara and Venturi master Marrakesh

Mortara wins thriller on streets of Morocco

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Edoardo Mortara wins the Marrakesh E Prix after a thrilling battle with the DS Techeetah of Antonio Felix de Costa. Jaguar’s Mitch Evans took third after a late last lap effort to get past the second DS Techeetah of Jean-Eric Vergne.

Pre-race
The Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan (Image Credit: Formula E)

The sun was beating down in Morocco’s capital as the teams took to the grid for round 10 of the championship. Leader Stoffel Vandoorne had a disastrous qualifying, ending up P20, and has a mountain to climb in the race.

There was no pre-race drama for anyone, as all drivers took their intended grid spots for the start.  Tension at the front of the grid was palpable, with both DS Techeetah’s split by the Venturi of Edoardo Mortata in P2.

Jaguar’s Mitch Evans lining up P6 highlighted the battery limitation and temperature concerns when on the grid, with the risk of battery depletion very high at the 2.9km track.

Lights out

At lights out, the top three maintained their positions. Further back Evans dropped to P7, while championship leader Vandoorne stayed out of trouble at the back, maintaining P20.  All the drivers behaved on the first lap, with no crashes or bumps to contend with.

Opening laps

Evans pushed to retake P6, battling with Pascal Wehrlein. The Porsche seemed to be targeting conserving energy in the early stages, with the Evans subjected to hard blocks by the German. After being pushed close to the wall in his efforts to pass, Evans passed at the end of the lap, as the top five streaked off into the distance.  Oliver Rowland in the Mahindra also passes the Porsche, as a traffic jam begins to form.

Mercedes Benz EQ’s challenging weekend continued, as a lock-up for Nyck De Vries while attempting to pass Wehrlein sees the reigning Formulas  E champion locks up and misses the barriers by inches. Both escaped the incident unscathed.

After qualifying P16,  Dan Ticktum’s race was effectively over after just a few laps. Tagged from the back, the British driver suffered a puncture,  sending him crawling back to the pits. Wehrlein’s Porsche continued to be passed, as De Vries and Envision’s Nick Cassidy pass the German in the space of a few corners.

Both Attack Mode’s depleted early

Both DS Techeetah’s were the first to blink and go for Attack Mode after only a handful of laps. This promoted Edoardo Mortara’s Venturi into the lead. Wanting to cut off the threat of being re-passed, Mortara dived for Attack mode one lap later. Cassidy’s Envision also headed for the Attack Mode activation point, but spun, undoing his good work and dropping him to P14.

Oliver Rowland’s Mahindra headed for the Attack Mode activation point to move into P5 and began to catch Mortara ahead.  Evans then gets ahead of both DS Techeetah’s.  The Mahindra used substantial power during this phase and would pay dearly for this later in the race.

Rowland was attacked by Da Costa but held on to second place. The British driver then dives for his second Attack  Mode, Rowland activates his and only loses one position. However, Rowland has to let Da Costa back through after tagging the DS Techeetah while attempting to pass him.

With just thirty minutes left, Mortara activates his second attack mode. He is able to maintain the lead and is told to push to create a gap.   Rowland makes a stunning move to take second place from Da Costa. Da Costa’s energy usage is beginning to bear fruit, with 2% battery more than the leader.

With 15 minutes gone, Mitch Evans activates his second attack mode with 15 mins gone and gets a full three minutes.  Da Costa retakes second place from Rowland, with Evans following him through.  With 35 seconds left of Attack Mode, the Jaguar of Evans moved into second place. Though unable to pass Mortara in P1 as his Attack Mode disappeared, the British Driver suddenly found himself in contention.  Vergne’s eventful afternoon continues, rear-ending the Andretti of Dennis and damaging the car. Both cars continue.

A frantic and tense finale

Both DS’s move up the order, setting the scene for a fast and frantic finale.  Da Costa moves into P2 past Rowland, while Vergne moves back up to P4. Mortara’s gap to P2 is now up to a second.  Vergne moved into third place, past Mitch Evans, using his higher battery stores.

Mercedes EQ’s afternoon continues to test the team, as Dennis in the Andretti is forced to defend from another kamikaze move from Nyck de Vries in the Mercedes. Contact is made, and both cars survive the encounter. Championship leader Stoffel Vandoorne meanwhile stuck in P11, after starting P20, the Belgian’s progress stalling.

DS Techeetah then applies for team orders in their efforts to catch Mortara,  Da Costa allows allowing teammate Vergne through.  With just ten minutes remaining,  the Frenchman then chases after Mortara for the race win. Vergne’s 2% additional battery power than Mortara allows the DS Techeetah to hunt down the Venturi. 0.900s is the gap Vergne must close if he is to win the race. Sensing the danger, Mortara uses Fanboost with 8 minutes left to try and build the gap to Vergne.  Vandoorne meanwhile moves past Dennis’s Andretti into P10, incredibly now the points.

With just 5 minutes left, the two DSs swap around again, with Da Costa now leading the change to catch Mortara’s Venturi.  The DS cruises up to the back of the Venturi, with just 3 minutes remaining. Both had similar energy, both wanting the glory.  The two frontrunners pull away, 3.1 seconds clear of Vergne in third.

Mortara holds on to claim a solid victory, moving him into the lead of the Drivers’ Championship.  The second DS drops to P4, after losing power on the final lap, promoting Mitch Evans to the podium places.

Stoffel Vandoorne drops to third in the standings, after coming home P8. The Belgian was able to limit the damage to his championship bid, passing Sam Bird’s Jaguar and Oliver Rowland’s Mahindra on the final lap.

Dan Ticktum’s NIO and Maximilian Guenther Nissan e.dams were the only two retirements.

Provisional race results 

  1. Edoardo Mortara ROKiT Venturi Racing – 45 minutes +1 lap
  2. Antonio Felix da Costa DS Techeetah +2.297
  3. Mitch Evans Jaguar TCS Racing +6.270
  4. Jean-Eric Vergne DS Techeetah +6.965
  5. Lucas di Grassi ROKiT Venturi Racing +7.787
  6. Nyck de Vries Mercedes-EQ +8.394
  7. Jake Dennis Avalanche Andretti +12.084
  8. Stoffel Vandoorne Mercedes-EQ +14.541
  9. Sam Bird Jaguar TCS Racing +15.048
  10. Oliver Rowland Mahindra Racing +15.270
  11. Oliver Askew Avalanche Andretti +16.336
  12. Pascal Wehrlein TAG Heuer Porsche +30.043
  13. Nick Cassidy Envision Racing +31.970
  14. Alexander Sims Mahindra Racing +32.332
  15. Andre Lotterer TAG Heuer Porsche +32.364
  16. Sebastien Buemi Nissan e.dams +33.707
  17. Oliver Turvey NIO 333 +35.018
  18. Robin Frijns Envision Racing +35.686
  19. Antonio Giovinazzi Dragon/Penske Autosport +40.887
  20. Sergio Sette Camara Dragon/Penske Autosport +42.764
  21. Maximilian Guenther Nissan e.dams NC
  22. Dan Ticktum NIO 333 NC

Feature Image Credit: Formula E

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