Posted 15 December, 2018 at 20:40
Oliver Turvey and Tom Dillmann overcame misfortune during the opening event of the 2018/2019 ABB FIA Formula E Championship, the SAUDIA Ad Diriyah e-Prix, to ensure both NIO cars ended round one of the season inside the top 14.
On a weekend of true firsts for Formula E, a brand new venue in Saudi Arabia – the Ad-Diriyah street circuit – and the maiden event for the latest Gen 2 cars, what wasn’t expected was the first ever rain-affected race meeting in the championship’s history.
Resulting in the opening practice on Saturday morning being cancelled, with delays to the schedule also meaning Superpole didn’t happen either, the grid for round one was determined from two qualifying sessions.
Dillmann initially looked to have secured a stunning front-row start with the second fastest time, but after completing too many laps in error his time was expunged and he was put back to 22nd on the grid. Turvey, meanwhile, had to start just ahead in 21st place after an FIA related sensor issue also saw him relegated to the back of the grid.
With a lot of hard work ahead in the e-Prix, Turvey made very strong progress in the No.16 NIO 004 car to climb through into 13th position prior to a Full Course Yellow, and subsequent Safety Car period, with just over 10 minutes to go. Racing resumed with around three minutes left on the clock and Turvey remained in position to the flag.
In the sister No.8 car, Dillmann was able to slice his way through into 16th before the Safety Car appeared late on. During the final few minutes, the Frenchman was able to break into the top 15 where he remained to the finish but, post-race was classified in 14.
Oliver Turvey, Race Driver, NIO Formula E Team:
“Starting at the back for the race was not ideal. This was the first race with the new car and as we did not have any practice laps in the dry we had to approach it with an open mind. I made a good start and was able to stay with the pack and make a few overtaking moves to go forward which was good. I used the attack mode to make up some places so it was good race in the end. To finish P13 was not what we wanted but, from where we started, we made progress which is important.”
Tom Dillmann, Race Driver, NIO Formula E Team:
“It was a tough day with the penalty in qualifying. We had good pace in the race so it is a shame we were not able make the most of that. We had a good strategy to save a lot of energy and we were good at the end of the race. I passed a few cars to move forwards but I am disappointed that we are not able to leave Saudi Arabia with a better result.”
Gérry Hughes, Team Principal, NIO Formula E Team:
“We have certainly learnt over the past four seasons that clearly you never give up and that anything is possible despite starting from the back of the grid in Formula E. The race was interesting from our perspective, where we had everything from Full Course Yellows and the Safety Car and whilst it’s disappointing to come away with no points for the NIO Formula E Team, we can certainly take many positives from our race pace today. We will now go back, analyse our performance, and prepare for Marrakech in the New Year.”
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