Gunther beats Vandoorne in FE Esports test race at Monaco
BMW driver Maximilian Gunther scored a lights-to-flag Esports victory over Stoffel Vandoorne in the non-championship first round of Formula E’s Race at Home Challenge.
Racing in support of UNICEF, 21 full-time FE drivers competed with the rFactor 2 platform around a virtual shortened Monaco FE circuit using cars of equal performance and with a fixed set-up.
Sim racing regular Gunther blitzed the qualifying session over Mercedes driver Stoffel Vandoorne to grab pole position by 0.4 seconds, as Porsche’s Andre Lotterer headed reigning series champion Jean-Eric Vergne on the grid.
Gunther made a clean getaway to lead into Saint Devote and from there he and Vandoorne streaked ahead unchallenged. Using a ‘racing royale’ elimination format, Edoardo Mortara was the first driver to be knocked out of the contest after the opening lap, having also failed to post a time in qualifying.
Gunther and Vandoorne’s respective teammates Alexander Sims and Nyck de Vries scrapped at the back of the field and were the next to be cut off. Although Gunther pulled out a consistent 1s lead and was never truly threatened for the lead, Vandoorne kept in touch and the duo finished the race 10s clear of next best Lotterer.
Vergne had climbed to third place in the early phase of the race, but Lotterer dived down the inside of the DS Techeetah car into the Harbour Hairpin. This allowed Nick Cassidy, who stood in for Envision Virgin Racing driver Sam Bird, to also dive through for fourth.
A huge slide for Marrakesh rookie test pacesetter Cassidy then allowed Lotterer to escape his clutches to round out the podium.
Vergne continued to falter and lost his car at the apex of Rascasse, which promoted the chasing pair of Oliver Rowland and the Dragon car of Nico Muller.
As current points leader Antonio Felix da Costa was eliminated from the back of the field, Vergne tried to recover past the Nissan of Rowland into Saint Devote. But the pair ran wide on the exit, with the subsequent delay allowing Jaguar driver Mitch Evans to sneak through into an eventual seventh.
Nissan SUPER GT driver Jann Mardenborough, deputising for Sebastien Buemi, and NIO 333 pilot Oliver Turvey closed out the top 10 after the final lap shootout.
Jaguar’s James Calado was handed a penalty for cutting a corner through the Swimming Pool chicane, which had allowed him to stave off the advances from the chasing Ma Qing Hua in their battle for 12th.
The first of eight points-paying race is scheduled for next Saturday.
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