After a full month away, Formula E’s Accelerate sim racing championship was back with Round 4 out of 6. The track in focus this week was the Riyadh Street Circuit which played host to the first round of Formula E’s 2021 season – a tight and twisty ‘bobsled run’ starred in the first half of the track and would require a driver’s wit to be fully engaged.
Heading into Thursday evening, Erhan Jajovski led the Drivers’ standings after picking up two wins ahead of Kevin ‘Siggy’ Rebernak who claimed one himself in Berlin. As for the Teams’ championship, a wildcard element was introduced prior to Qualifying; an All-Star Race.
With barely any practice, a real-world driver from each team took to the grid in an attempt to score points towards their Accelerate campaign. BMW i Andretti, leading the way thanks to their double podium in Berlin, would have even more to celebrate as Jake Dennis not only took pole position but a dominant win by over seven seconds from the rest of the field.
Their closest rivals, ROKiT Venturi, fared remarkably well with a 3rd place score by Norman Nato from the back of the grid. Jean-Eric Vergne, Nick Cassidy and front row starter Sam Bird were not classified meaning bottom half teams Techeetah, Virgin and Jaguar all failed to capitalise.
Group 1 saw all eyes on Jajovski and Siggy yet, as suggested in our preview, it was Denmark’s Freddie Rasmussen that stormed to the provisional pole. In a picture-perfect lap, the third-placed driver in the championship stole a march on his rivals by over three tenths – huge in the context of what we have seen from other qualifying sessions this season.
With such a margin in place, questions were raised as to who would slip in ahead of the 2021 front runners. No answer came forth and by the end of the session, the Slovenian and the Macedonian were no doubt breathing a sigh of relief; the pair would line up P2 and P3 on the grid respectively.
Their teammates didn’t manage to set the world alight but BMW were no doubt the happier outfit with Petar Brljak in P9 ahead of Lorenz Hörzing in P12. Mercedes EQ’s Jarno Opmeer has his strongest showing of pace since Hong Kong, reaching the dizzy heights of P6 whilst Bono Huis and Graham Carroll would be looking for redemption in P4 and P5 after their battery life disaster four weeks ago.
It all set the scene for a brilliant ePrix ahead with the top three in the Drivers’ title race lining up in reverse championship order at the head of the pack.
As we have become accustomed to, the front runners delivered a classy start with no incident to speak of. Marius Golombeck saw an early opportunity for progress and stole sixth away from the unfortunate Opmeer. Michi Hoyer, once again filling in for Kelvin van der Linde at Audi, was the person to find most grief being spun, beaten up and left to lick his wounds facing the wrong direction.
Ten minutes rolled by with no major action of note. Much like Berlin, Rasmussen and Siggy found themselves in a tense stalemate at the front, this time shadowed by the ominous Jajovski. Behind them and Bono Huis residing in fourth, a number of Attack Modes were utilised yet none truly providing much movement. Worth mentioning was Opmeer who performed a stunner of a move on Martin Stefanko to retake seventh place.
With 12 minutes to go, patience began to run thin as Siggy looked more and more eager to make a pass. By this point, none of the top three had activated Attack Mode leading to the possibility of a double stack in the dying embers of the ePrix.
Before anyone could blink on that conundrum, the move in waiting arrived as Siggy launched himself down the inside of Turn 18. It was bold, it was stubborn and it resulted in a half-spin conceding second to the one person he didn’t want to lose it to. This also allowed Rasmussen a bit more breathing room which would prove very useful indeed.
As the final flurry of Attack Modes came and went, the Dane would survive to pick up his first win of the season followed home by Jajovski and Siggy. Energy conservation would once again play a major role for one contender as Jarno Opmeer struggled to hold back the midfield. The Dutch driver would drop harshly from seventh to 10th, the final driver to pass being Hörzing who scored his first points of the season striking a second quick pass on Brljak for 8th.
Back on the podium, Jajovski extended his lead of the championship minutely from nine to 12 points over Siggy. Significantly, for the first time this season, Rasmussen outscored both of them with Pole Position points to boot. Heading into Round 5, the 20-year-old is just 19 points away from the top of the standings.
Marius Golombeck had another so-so race but picked up a Fastest Lap award which helped him jump from 6th to 4th in the standings. Huis also took a leap with a second 4th place of the season to match his two non-scores.
With both ROKiT Venturi cars outscoring their direct BMW i Andretti rivals, it meant that Dennis’ success in the All-Star race was all the more important to the German team. Without his 28 points added to the total score, the outfit from Monaco would have retaken the lead of the Teams’ battle. A win for Dragon/Penske took them 40 points clear of Mercedes-Benz EQ in 4th.
Diving fully into the endless possibilities virtual racing can offer, Round 5 of Formula E: Accelerate will take place on the semi-fictional roads of Lester ‘Electric Docks’ Street Circuit, a conceptual course located in New Jersey, USA. To learn more about the history of this popular rFactor 2 venue, be sure to catch our preview next week before watching live on 18th March vie the Traxion YouTube and Twitch channels.
FORMULA E: ACCELERATE ROUND FOUR RESULTS
- F. Rasmussen – Dragon/Penske Autosport – 21 Laps
- E. Jajovski – ROKiT Venturi Racing – +1.856
- K. Siggy – BMW i Andretti Motorsport – +3.506
- B. Huis – Mercedes EQ Formula E Team – +4.656
- G. Carroll – Envision Virgin Racing – +4.964
- M. Golombeck – TAG Heuer Porsche – +6.204
- M. Stefanko – Jaguar Racing – +10.543
- L. Hörzing – ROKiT Venturi Racing – +13.715
FORMULA E: ACCELERATE Championship standings
- E. Jajovski – ROKiT Venturi Racing – 86
- K. Siggy – BMW i Andretti Motorsport – 74
- F. Rasmussen – Dragon/Penske Autosport – 67
- M. Golombeck – TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team – 29
- B. Huis – Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team – 24
- M. Biancolilla – Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler – 24
- P. Brljak – BMW i Andretti Motorsport – 23
- G. Carroll – Envision Virgin Racing – 22
- M. Stefanko – Jaguar Racing – 20
- R. Kappet – NIO 333 – 20