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Olli Pahkala handed penalty, Bono Huis named new winner of Vegas eRace

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Bono Huis has been named as the winner of the inaugural FIA Formula E Vegas eRace after original victor Olli Pahkala was handed a post-race penalty for having a software issue on his computer.

The Vegas eRace pitted the 20-strong Formula E grid up against 10 of the world’s fastest sim racers in a battle for $1 million worth of prize money.

Faraday Future Dragon Racing driver Huis dominated proceedings throughout the eRace weekend, topping every practice and qualifying session heading into the race.

The Dutchman managed to soak up pressure from regular Formula E racer Felix Rosenqvist in the early part of the eRace before pitting with five laps to go from the lead.

Huis emerged from the pits nine seconds behind Pahkala, who had been running outside of the top five in the early part of the race.

However, a glitch in the software being used for the event meant that Pahkala’s FanBoost – intended to give him a power advantage for a brief period of time – lasted six laps.

This allowed the Finn to lap up to three seconds per lap faster than Huis, who is widely recognized as being one of the finest sim racers in the world.

After the race, Huis’ anger was evident after finishing second, and he initially refused to come out onto the podium to accept his trophy and a cheque for $100,000.

However, the stewards looked into the timings and opted to hand Pahkala a 12-second time penalty to negate the software issue, demoting him to third place.

As a result, Huis is the first Vegas eRace winner, while Rosenqvist claims second place, with the pair winning prizes of $200,000 and $100,000 respectively. Huis also claimed $25,000 for taking pole position earlier in the day.

“This first eRace in Las Vegas was a great success,” Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag said following the race.

“It’s exciting to have brought Formula E into the inner sanctum of CES – the biggest and most influential technology show in the world. I think this can be the first in a big future for Formula E in eSports racing.

“We will continue to pursue new and innovative ways to improve our presence in this fast-growing landscape, while maintaining fan engagement at the forefront of all our initiatives.”

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”