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Race report
Formula E Rome ePrix II

Rome E-Prix: Evans wins from Cassidy after early-race pile-up

Mitch Evans propelled himself firmly back into Formula E title contention after winning the opening Rome E-Prix in a race that was red-flagged following a serious multi-car crash.

Mitch Evans, Jaguar Racing, Jaguar I-TYPE 6, Sam Bird, Jaguar Racing, Jaguar I-TYPE 6, Sacha Fenestraz, Nissan Formula E Team, Nissan e-4ORCE 04

The Jaguar driver beat fellow Kiwi and championship protagonist Nick Cassidy by 1.6 seconds to the win, as the runner-up spot moved the Envision Racing driver into the points lead.

Maserati’s Maximilian Gunther completed the podium while Jake Dennis – who had led the championship standings ahead of the race – took fourth after a defensive drive over the final laps to keep Jean-Eric Vergne (DS Penske) and Nico Muller (Abt Cupra) behind.

The race was red-flagged on lap nine after numerous cars were involved in a high-speed accident triggered when Jaguar’s Sam Bird lost control through the high-speed left-hand Turn 6 sweep after running wide.

The Briton had started on the front row alongside team-mate Evans and initially led the opening laps after moving ahead into the first turn but was running fourth when the incident took place.

While Dennis, Cassidy and Gunther immediately behind were just able to avoid the spinning Bird, after the Briton had bounced off the wall, Envision’s Sebastien Buemi was unable to avoid the stricken Jaguar that had stopped broadside across the track.

The heavy impact sent Bird’s Jaguar further onto the racing line, with Stoffel Vandoorne hitting the wall in avoidance, while team-mate Vergne just squeezed through on the inside of the wreckage.

Edoardo Mortara’s Maserati was unable to avoid the stranded Jaguar, though, suffering a heavy head-on collision as the resulting chaos and debris caused a concertina effect behind that also claimed Antonio Felix da Costa (Porsche), Lucas di Grassi (Mahindra) and Robin Frijns (Abt Cupra).

All drivers involved in the incident were able to extract themselves from their respective cars and underwent medical checks.

Marshals remove the car of Sam Bird, Jaguar Racing, Jaguar I-TYPE 6, with a crane after a big crash on the 9th lap

Marshals remove the car of Sam Bird, Jaguar Racing, Jaguar I-TYPE 6, with a crane after a big crash on the 9th lap

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

The same spot on the track had already claimed the Andretti Autosport machine of Andre Lotterer earlier in the race, an incident that caused a safety car, as well as the McLaren of Jake Hughes in qualifying - which left the Briton unable to start the race due to the damage.

Fourteen cars took the standing restart after a lengthy delay with Nissan's Sacha Fenestraz resuming in the lead having kept ahead of Evans and McLaren’s Rene Rast prior to the stoppage.

But the Nissan driver quickly began to lose more energy compared with his rivals, with Dennis taking the lead midway through the race into the 90-degree left of Turn 7, having jumped Evans at Turn 3.

Dennis led for a lengthy period, only dropping behind Evans when activating his final Attack Mode with the Kiwi following suit two laps later.

The Jaguar driver rejoined second and clear of Cassidy, who had also demoted Fenestraz, but Evans had missed the Attack Mode activation sensors meaning he had to run off-line again the following lap.

This time with Attack Mode activated, Evans overtook Dennis for the lead on the approach to Turn 7, with Cassidy pulling off the same move further round the lap.

While the top two remained unchanged until the flag, Dennis lost a further position to Gunther with five laps remaining as he conserved energy.

The Briton was just able to hold on to fourth from Vergne and Muller over the final tours, as Pascal Wehrlein claimed seventh.

The Porsche driver, who is also in championship contention, was forced to pit on the opening lap after damaging his front wing and then suffered suspension damage in the Bird incident.

Although his car was repaired and he recovered to seventh, the German was investigated by the stewards for going too fast under the red flags and demoted to ninth in the final classification.

Rome E-Prix - Race results:

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