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Marrakesh Magic: d’Ambrosio wins a dramatic race

In an eventful race full of plot twists, Jerome d’Ambrosio clinched the win. Crashes, overtakes, and tight racing were proof once again of why Formula E offers exciting racing and memorable drives.  

Marrakesh joined the Formula E calendar back in Season 3, and has not been dropped ever since. The magnificent view of the track close to the Atlas Mountains, and the amazing racing that the public has witnessed at the Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan have quickly become fan favourites. 

For its third edition, Sam Bird – who was a podium finisher in the two previous editions – qualified on Pole Position. Bird had gone into Super Pole with a damaged car, after being involved in a three-car collision at the pit entry with teammate Robin Frijns and NIO’s Tom Dillmann. 

The Brit qualified ahead of reigning champion Jean-Eric Vergne and BMW i Andretti Motorsport’s Antonio Felix da Costa – the latter was penalised after qualiying, so Nissan e.dams’ Sebastien Buemi started from P3. Season 5 rookie Alexander Sims and Jaguar’s Mitch Evans completed the top five, with da Costa starting in sixth. 

Just in the first corner of the race, Jean-Eric Vergne and Sam Bird made contact, which caused the Frenchman to spin. Vergne and the following Buemi and Evans dropped several places, which allowed Sims and da Costa to move up to P2 and P3 respectively. 

Stoffel Vandoorne had yet another misfortune, as he pitted his car at the end of Lap 1, and subsequently retired. 

Formula E is never short of action, and with Vergne and Buemi out of the Top 10, the race also gave the public the challenge these two drivers had to face in order to go back to the point-scoring positions. 

Drivers who had had a bad qualifying, saw this as an advantageous situation, gaining some important places. Such was the case of Turvey, Lopez, and di Grassi. 

Pascal Wehrlein’s first ever Formula E race was cut short by an unfortunate contact he made with another car, and retired shortly after the start. Gary Paffett also suffered damage on his car, which caused him to stop, under the watching eyes of Toto Wolff. 

Da Costa, who arrived in Marrakesh as the championship leader, overtook teammate Alexander Sims to fight for the front spot with Sam Bird. There was close racing between the top five drivers, with di Grassi joining the fight after overtaking d’Ambrosio. 

Guenther, who had an unlucky qualifying session, overtook Vergne using the Attack Mode. The race, which seemed one the Frenchman could easily win, was slowly becoming a nightmare for the Frenchman, as he continued to drop places in the standings. 

Da Costa finally got past Sam Bird, and so did Sims shortly after. Both BMWs were now on top of the standings, followed by both Envision Virgin cars. The BMW duo was one of the strongest lineups at the Valencia pre-season testing, and after an incredible performance by da Costa in Ad Diriyah, the team were showing they will be able to fight for the title this season. 

More overtakes thanks to Attack Mode took place throughout the race. ‘Pechito’ Lopez, who had started the race from the back of the grid, was now running in P7 after overtaking Abt, who did not have a good qualifying too, but was able to move up places thanks to the Lap 1 incident. 

Race Control announced that the incident between Bird and da Costa, prior to the Portuguese overtaking the Brit, was under investigation. 

With less than half an hour until the end of the race, Sam Bird was overtaken by teammate Robin Frijns. The pole sitter now had to face di Grassi and d’Ambrosio, who were fiercely approaching the front runners. The Belgian finally overtook Bird, now charging up to get past Frijns. 

Bird did not have the easiest of weekends, as he started dropping places, being overtaken by di Grassi, some minutes after Mahindra Racing’s Jerome d’Ambrosio overtook him. 

The fight for P4 between d’Ambrosio and di Grassi, shortly after they overtook Frijns, became a strong one. The Belgian, who has had a favourable start of the season, wanted to repeat the podium finish he had in Ad Diriyah, while the Brazilian wanted to score his first podium of the season, after a disappointing season opener. 

Vergne was able to turn the tables, and with less than twenty minutes to go, was running in P8, trying to get past Dragon Racing’s Jose Maria Lopez. Buemi was also back in the Top 10, running behind Andre Lotterer, who had started the race from P20. 

Di Grassi dropped some places, allowing the Envision Virgin duo to go back to the top five. Meanwhile, Vergne was back in the fight, now running P6, aiming to overtake Bird and Frijns, who had run out of Attack Mode. 

But the most unexpected scene occurred when both BMW drivers made contact, and da Costa ended up out of the race. Sims was able to bounce back into the race, running in P4. 

Jerome d’Ambrosio took the lead of the race, followed by Frijns and Bird. The faces of disappointment at the BMW garage were in direct contrast with Mahindra Racing’s boss Dilbagh Gill, whose cheerful expressions every time his team does well were quickly shown on camera. 

With the Safety Car deployed five minutes before the end of the race, a powerful Vergne charging up to get back to the top three, and both Envision Virgin drivers with no more Attack Modes available, the dramatic scenes had all the characteristics of an eventful and exciting Formula E race. 

The nerves were clear on the team members’ faces with just thirty seconds and a lap until the checkered flag was waved. Just on the final lap, the green flags were back, and the battle was on again. 

D’Ambrosio finally saw the checkered the flag from P1, and celebrations immediately started at the Mahindra Racing garage. The Belgian achieved his third win in Formula E – his first one achieved by finishing in P1, as the previous two had been inherited after di Grassi’s disqualifications. 

Frijns and Bird never gave up, and finished in P2 and P3, respectively. Alexander Sims almost passed Bird in the last corner, but finished in P4 at the end, followed by Jean Eric Vergne. 

Formula E never disappoints, and another mind blowing race in Marrakesh was clear proof of this. The championship fight remains open, and the level of competitiveness is higher than ever.

What comes next? We do not know yet, but if we are certain of one thing, is that the racing this season is more exciting than ever. 

1JérômeD'AMBROSIO31 laps
7LucasDI GRASSI1.633
11José MariaLOPEZ4.528
NCAntonio FelixDA COSTA-6 laps
NCGaryPAFFETT-28 laps
NCPascalWEHRLEIN-30 laps
NCStoffelVANDOORNE-30 laps

Andrea Perilli

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