Stoffel Vandoorne lauded his ‘good day in the office’ by finally breaking his victory duck in the ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge in timely fashion to take the lead in the drivers’ standings by a point.
The Mercedes-Benz EQ man has been a qualifying master to start on Julius Baer Pole Position four times in six races but had yet to convert that into a race victory but got the monkey off his back with a flawless drive to take pole, victory and fastest lap.
Standings leader before the race, Mahindra Racing’s Pascal Wehrlein recovered from seventh to take second place and remain within a point while Nissan e.dams’ Oliver Rowland showed his race victory last time out wasn’t a fluke by pushing the German all the way to finish a well-earned third.
Former competition leader Maximilian Guenther, starting second, saw his title chances – which had looked a solid bet when he led by 25 points after Race 3 – go up in smoke after being hit on turn one to finish the day pointless.
But the day belonged to Vandoorne who admitted that avoiding the argy-bargy in the opening moments which ended Guenther’s day had been the all-important moment of the race.
"It has taken a while before getting there [winning a race,]” said Vandoorne. “Today was a perfect result, pole position, race win and also the fastest lap, so it has been a good day in the office.
“It has been coming for a long time, today we were just faster and didn't have any problems, so that was kind of 99% the job done.”
Vandoorne looked set to battle it out with Guenther once again as the pair qualified first and second but the BMW i Andretti Motorsport driver was hit in the side on the first corner by two-time Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne to fall back to 21st and could only recover to finish 12th.
Stoffel Vandoorne wins Round 6 of the ABB Formula E Race At Home Challenge
In one of the most exciting races of the season Vandoorne was soon tracked by TAG Heuer Porsche’s Neel Jani and Rowland with Wehrlein a bit further back driving a smart recovery race following a penalty forcing him to start seventh.
Wehrlein waited until the final few laps before making his move as he gobbled up both Rowland and Jani to move quickly into second and drove a defensive race from then on to ensure it is all to play for when the series enters its final two races next weekend.
The race for the title looks almost certainly to be a two-man race with Guenther’s nightmare back end of the series continuing – he now sits 32 points behind Vandoorne.
But securing both the fastest lap and pole position gives Vandoorne a single point lead over Werhlein to ensure a salivating double-header weekend to come, and the German admitted he was content with the result.
“It was a good result,” added Wehrlein. “With the penalty I had to start from seventh and managed to finish second and it was a good fight to get there.
“Even though the car was already damaged after the first corner as there was a big shunt ahead of me with a lot of cars trying to go through at the same time, the pace of the car was good throughout.
“By the end I was just defending my position and trying to get good exits to keep Oliver [Rowland] and Neel [Jani] behind me. All in all, second place is not bad.”
In the Challenge Race, Kevin Siggy guaranteed himself pole position in the season finale next Sunday June 7 by taking his third lights to flag victory of the season.
The Slovenian romped home easily and despite next weekend being a double-header he is too far out in front for any driver to reel him in during the Saturday race.
The ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge returns next weekend for the season finale on Saturday June 6 and Sunday June 7 live on Eurosport.