July 2020

Rowland wins fifth Race at Home Challenge

Oliver Rowland scored his first victory in the Formula E Race at Home Challenge after early leaders Stoffel Vandoorne and Daniel Abt collided at the virtual Berlin Tempelhof Airport circuit.

Nissan e.dams driver Rowland had not yet led a lap of the Esports championship prior to the race, but profited from his rivals' frequent crashes to triumph by 0.296s in the race, which ran in partnership with Motorsport Games to raise funds for the UNICEF coronavirus relief fund.

Vandoorne overcame the reverse-championship order group qualifying system to bag his third series pole position by 0.256s over the Audi of 2018 real-world Berlin E-Prix victor Daniel Abt.

Mercedes pilot Vandoorne enjoyed a strong launch to hold position on the run to Turn 1, but he braked deep into the corner, which gave Abt the opportunity to attack.

But the track snaking back round for Turn 3 put Vandoorne on the inside line, meaning he could maintain the lead before Abt made another attempt on the approach to Turn 6.

Vandoorne was cautious through the left-hander and lost out to both Abt and third-starting Rowland, but on the next tour at the same corner Vandoorne carried more pace and took a tight exit to out-drag Rowland and set off after Abt.

The pair ran nose-to-tail on the sixth lap and, again at Turn 6, Abt pulled to the inside of the circuit to defend from Vandoorne, but the pair collided at the apex and ran wide.

This delay allowed Rowland to sweep by on the inside to take first place, and from there he held position over Vandoorne to triumph and become the third different winner in the championship.

Abt's early race pace ebbed away for the remainder and so he was a distant third - 3.2s in arrears - but he kept the Mahindra of Pascal Wehrlein at bay.

Wehrlein was somewhat fortunate to maintain his championship lead after he crashed with main title rival Maximillian Guenther on the second lap, but he avoided a subsequent penalty.

The incident took place at Turn 9, where fifth-starting Wehrlein lunged down the inside of BMW Andretti's Guenther and forced him into the wall and then a spin.

That allowed Venturi driver Edoardo Mortara to pick up fifth place ahead of the Dragon of Nico Mueller.

Guenther was only able to recover one position to take seventh at the finish, with Andre Lotter pulling clear of real-life 2019/20 FE championship leader Antonio Felix da Costa.

Jaguar driver Mitch Evans rounded out the top 10 ahead of Neel Jani and Rowland's Nissan team-mate Sebastien Buemi.

Kevin Siggy became the first repeat winner in the parallel Challenge grid contest for sim racers after surviving an opening-corner scare when he was hit off line by battling duo Petar Brljak and Peyo Peev.

The win ensured Slovenian competitor Siggy maintained his 100% podium record as he stretched his standings advantage to 32 points.

The eventual virtual champion will win a real-life FE test drive.