Alice Powell took to the podium again in the second race of the Ad-Diriyah race, as Attack Mode strategy played again a decisive role in the closing laps.
The second day of action from Ad-Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, opened with the second qualifying session of the Jaguar iPace eTrophy championship, featuring Alice Powell, Abbie Eaton and local hero Reema Juffali on the grid.
Reigning champion Sergio Jimenez took pole for the second round, ahead of yesterday's winner Simon Evans and with Alice Powell slotting in in third. Abbie Eaton felt the car sliding a bit too much and could not do better than 6th, while Juffali improved from yesterday and was 9th. Alice Powell went on top with 13 minuntes left on the clock with a 1:31.868, but was then topped by both Evans and Jimenez in the closing stages.
When the lights went out, Jimenez managed to turn undisturbed the first corner still in the lead, while Yaqi Zhang was author of a remarkable start and passed Alice Powell around the outside for third. Powell, making some light contact with the Chinese driver towards turn 21, also had to defend from the attacks of Mario Haberfeld but held on to fourth after the first lap.
Haberfeld clipped the wall soon after, giving Abbie Eaton the chance to advance to fifth, as Saudi driver Algosaibi picked up some bodywork damage after the opening lap fights.
Powell closed in on Zhang quickly and launched a successful attack at turn 18, as Zhang took the opportunity to activate his first Attack Mode of the day. Juffali battled with compatriot Bal Hejaila and moved up to ninth, before having a big moment in the twisty section that almost put her #1 VIP car in the wall: Reema was skilled to control the big slide and continued.
Ahead, championship leader Simon Evans was still within the one second gap to Jimenez, with Powell losing almost 6 seconds in her battle with ProAm leader Zhang. The British lady though, quicker than the race leaders, gradually started to close the gap.
Abbie Eaton activated her first Attack Mode on lap 4 and posted the fastest lap of the race.
At around the half-way mark, the fierce battle between Mario Haberfeld and Fahad Algosaibi resulted in a big crash: the Saudi driver defended hard from the attacks of the ZEG iCarros Jaguar Brazil racer and, after a couple of line changes on the main straight, he made heavy contact with Haberfeld and with the barriers at turn 1, sending out the Safety Car.
The displaced safety wall and the many debris on track forced the race direction to deploy the red flag with 11 minutes left on the clock: cars made their way back to the pits with gaps now reset. With Algosaibi's wrecked car removed from the runoff area, the race resumed under the Safety Car and was green flagged again one lap later, as the top 4 went straight to the Attack Mode activation zone.
Bal Hejaila was put under the stewards scrutiny for overtaking before the restart, and was then caught into another fight with Reema Juffali, with the compatriots making contact at turn one.
Ahead, the top-3 checked out from the rest of the field, with Zhang falling back and into Eaton's sight: the Brit made a move stick and moved up to fourth when the Jaguar China Racing driver tried to activate his extra-power without having any left.
The closing laps were, in fact, all about the brand-new Attack Mode: with one activation still to be deployed for the leading trio, Powell went for the extra 20% power on the penultimate lap, but the system did not work and the 26-year old W-Series race winner fell 6 seconds off the leaders.
With regulations forcing the drivers to use all their Attack Modes, Jimenez and Evans both activated it at turn 18, with 3 corners to the finish line. Sergio Jimenez took the chequered flag to win the second Jaguar iPace eTrophy race of the season, ahead of Simon Evans and Alice Powell, leaving everyone with questions about the Attack Mode regulations deployed on the last lap.
"P3 in round 2." - tweeted Alice after the hectic race. "I went to use attack mode on the second to last lap, but for some reason it did not deploy. It was activated, but did not go off. We look into why! However, still happy to bring Jaguar Ran Racing eTrophy Team Germany another podium."
Abbie Eaton, with minimal experience of the Jaguar car, completed another stunning race in fourth, claiming the best ever result for a VIP guest starter in the history of the championship.
"I’ve really enjoyed my time driving the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY." - commented Eaton. "I’ve learned a huge amount about how to get the most out of an electric car and it’s really surprised me, in a good way. The racing has been really close with only a few tenths between the top five drivers which makes it even more exciting. I’d love to come back and race for the series in the future.”
Reema Juffali, first Saudi woman to race inside her country's borders, was forced to retire with two laps to go with damages.
After a thrilling second round, Jaguar iPace eTrophy will be back on the Formula E supporting schedule at Mexico City on February 15th, where last year Katherine Legge made history by becoming the first woman to win in the Formula E race weekend.
Ph credits: Jaguar Racing Media