Virtual Berlin ePrix: Rowland opens his account

Nissan e.dams’ Oliver Rowland broke the streak of German winners to secure a debut victory in the ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge in a dramatic fifth round on the Tempelhof track in Berlin.

With the Race at Home Challenge being dominated to date by German duo Maximilian Guenther and Pascal Wehrlein, the British driver spoiled the party to become the first non-German winner of the competition, in his rivals’ own backyard.

Rowland triumphed in the second round of the BRDC Esports Championship at Monza earlier this week and made it two online race wins in a sensational few days for the 27-year-old.

Mercedes-Benz EQ’s Stoffel Vandoorne started on Julius Baer Pole Position for the third time in the competition, but lost the lead to Rowland, with the Nissan e.dams driver holding off a late challenge from second-placed Vandoorne.

Championship leader Pascal Wehrlein (Mahindra Racing) finished in fourth, while winner of the first two races Maximilian Guenther (BMW i Andretti Motorsport) crashed out to finish eighth, a hammer blow in the 22-year-old’s title challenge.

There was chaos at the first corner as several drivers crashed out, with a leading trio running away from the pack to contest for the lead.

Oliver Rowland, Nissan e.dams driver, said: “After the last few weeks I have been unfortunate, so I was keen to just stay out of trouble. I knew that Stoffel was fast so I didn’t really want to fight him, so when they started fighting together I just took the opportunity when it came!

“I was worried because Stoffel was so fast, I had to be really perfect and then in those last few laps I was so nervous, so I was just trying to hold it together. After last week I was a bit disappointed, I had put a lot of practice in and then the first corner was taken away from me, so this week I thought I would just do it as I go and it seemed to work. I think the pace has been pretty good the last three rounds, I just haven’t put it all together.”

Stoffel Vandoorne, Mercedes-Benz EQ driver, said:”A mixed bag with this race, for a couple of reasons. The pace was very good again. Julius Baer pole position number three, so picking up a couple of points for that. I had a fairly good start, getting into the lead but losing it through some aggressive fighting with car number 66.

“In the closing stages, I managed to catch up to the back of Oliver Rowland with two laps to go but there was not real opportunity to get past him cleanly. So, another P2 and a fastest lap as well makes this an overall good performance. Victory feels around the corner, I need to keep it clean in these races and finish off the job. On to the next one!”

The provisional results see Wehrlein remain top of the driver standings on 82 points, however the German’s lead has been cut to just four points, with Vandoorne taking second place on 78 points with Guenther in third on 71 points.

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