Alice Powell gets 3rd in Jaguar iPace opening race in Diriyah
British star Alice Powell finished P3 after an exciting battle with reigning champion Jimenez, in a race defined by Attack Mode strategies.
The second season of the all-electric Jaguar iPace eTrophy, supporting Formula E and run by Jaguar Racing, went underway today with the first race from Ad-Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.
As reported in our season preview, the series will feature three ladies in its opening round: W-Series front-runner Alice Powell, Abbie Eaton and Saudi driver Reema Juffali, making history by being the first Saudi woman to race professionally in her country's borders.
The two W-Series competitors had a great start to their weekend yesterday, as they topped the timesheets in the free practice session, when Alice Powell posted a 1:39.203, 3 tenths ahead of series guest starter Abbie Eaton.
In the early morning qualifying session, New-Zealander Simon Evans took pole position and shared a front row start with reigning champion Sergio Jimenez.
Eaton and Powell lined up alongside on the second row, taking respectively third and fourth place. Alice Powell reported to be struggling with brakes, as she was more used to single-seater braking techniques.
At the race start, last season's race winner Simon Evans went quickly to the inside line to defend from Jimenez, while both Eaton and Powell had good clean starts. Juffali, lining up in 10th, held her position despite a very positive getaway.
Evans opened up a gap straight away, with Jimenez coming into pressure from the very fast Eaton.
The race was promptly defined by the use of the new Attack Mode, previously employed only by Formula E last season. Fahad Algosaibi was the first driver to switch-on the additional 20% power as early as lap 3, followed by Reema Juffali.
After some brilliant opening laps, Abbie Eaton brushed the wall and allowed Alice Powell to launch a decisive attack on the fellow Brit at turn 18, gaining P3.
From then on, Eaton's quick qualifying pace lost momentum and she fell back into the clutches of Yaqi Zhang.
Soon after, Powell made an opportunistic move stick on Jimenez as the Brazilian had activated his Attack Mode, but the ZEG iCarros Jaguar Brazil driver fought his way back past Powell at turn 1, after the two made contact under braking but escaped damages.
Reema Juffali advanced to 8th, finding her way past Haberfeld and Bal Hejaila.
Powell made use of her first Attack Mode on lap 7 as she had gained more than 4 seconds over Eaton. Alice, fastest lap after fastest lap, caught back Jimenez but could not attempt a move until the very final laps.
As Juffali had dropped back again into 10th, Abbie Eaton went deep at turn 17 and, on lap 12, she lost 4th place to Zhang.
Powell, with one more Attack Mode to spend, tried her last chances in the closing stages of the race, but she had to go offline at turn 19 for two consecutive laps as the power bonus was not activated on the first occasion. Powell later revealed she had pushed the activation button too early and had to try again one lap later.
When the faster mode was finally activated for the last time, 26-year old Powell was the fastest driver on track and went on pursuit of second-placed Jimenez, igniting an exciting battle.
After 17 laps, Simon Evans crossed the line to win for the second consecutive year the Ad-Diriyah round. 2018-2019 champion Sergio Jimenez defended hard and took second, while Alice Powell started her season with a podium position and a fastest lap.
Yaqi Zhang was fourth and on top of the Pro-Am podium, while Abbie Eaton equalled Powell's best ever result for a VIP driver with 5th. Reema Juffali finished P10.
“It’s been an incredible day creating history in the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY race series." - said Reema after the race.
"I loved being out on track in my home country for the first time and battling against the competition has been really exciting. I can’t believe it, it’s amazing! I’m looking forward to refining my Attack Mode strategy ahead of tomorrow’s race and really can’t wait to get back on track.”
Jaguar iPace eTrophy will be back tomorrow at 13:05 local time for the second race of the Ad-Diriyah double-header.
Ph credits: Jaguar Racing Media