Gunther claims back-to-back wins, Vandoorne crashes
Maximilian Gunther was a dominant, if slightly fortunate, Esports victor in the second championship round of the Formula E Race at Home Challenge as Stoffel Vandoorne again crashed out of the lead.
Mercedes driver Vandoorne claimed back-to-back pole positions for the race which runs in partnership with Motorsport Games to raise money for UNICEF’s coronavirus relief fund. His qualifying effort around the artificial Electric Docks circuit was only 0.087 seconds quicker than fellow group one runner Gunther.
Vandoorne made a sluggish getaway and had to pull to the middle of the circuit to hold position into the Turn 1 chicane, but he slid wide at the first apex. That forced Vandoorne into the wall, from which he was deflected into the outside barrier and dropped to fourth – lucky not to suffer terminal damage.
For the second race in succession, BMW Andretti driver Gunther inherited first place from the Belgian and ran to a clear 4s lead at the end of the first lap.
Pascal Wehrlein had been pipped to third on the grid by a late quick lap from Porsche’s Andre Lotterer, but the DTM champion recovered to second place and set after Gunther. Mahindra driver Wehrlein tore 1.4s out of Gunther’s advantage on lap two alone and then incrementally caught up to the race leader.
On lap nine he sat just 0.3s behind Gunther and looked odds on to move into first place until he too was caught out by the Turn 1 chicane. He clipped the wall on the exit, and suffered a half-spin and extensive damage.
That allowed Gunther to run onto the spoils by an imperious 7.7s to maintain his championship advantage with a maximum points haul. Robin Frijns claimed an impressive second place for Envision Virgin Racing, having profited from the damage for Vandoorne and Wehrlein.
Dragon Racing driver Nico Mueller rounded out the podium, while Porsche’s Neel Jani scored his best ever FE finish with fourth.
Vandoorne struggled on with his crabbing Mercedes to hold fifth over NIO 333 driver Oliver Turvey as Nyck de Vries recovered from a spectacular Turn 1 qualifying crash to a strong seventh.
James Calado survived a collision with his Jaguar team-mate Mitch Evans to wind up in eighth, as reigning FE champion Jean-Eric Vergne beat a recovering Wehrlein to ninth.
On his sim racing debut, Sam Bird had climbed as high as fifth place but tagged the wall and was eliminated on the spot.
Meanwhile, experienced Esports racer Peyo Peev dominated the Challenge grid contest for sim drivers from pole position to the tune of 2.7s.
Second place for Kevin Siggy was sufficient for him to climb into the points lead, with the eventual series champion winning a real-life FE test later this year.
1 Gunther 50
2 Frijns 30
3 Vandoorne 22
4 Wehrlein 17
5 Muller 15
6 Turvey 14
7 Jani 12
8 Rowland 8
9 De Vries 6
10 Calado 4
11 Massa 4
12 Vergne 2
13 D’Ambrosio 2
14 Sims 1
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