Piquet Jr. adds Formula E win to family’s legacy on streets of Long Beach

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Nearly 35 years to the day after his father won the 1980 United States Grand Prix West at Long Beach (March 30) for his first Grand Prix victory, Nelson Piquet Jr. matched his father as a winner on the iconic streets of Long Beach.

Difference is, that was a Formula 1 race won by Nelson and today’s was the Long Beach ePrix, Round 6 of the inaugural FIA Formula E Championship season. Piquet Jr. is also the sixth winner in as many races this season.

Piquet Jr.’s win Saturday in the No. 99 China Racing Spark-Renault SRT_01E came after a dominant performance, only losing the lead in the 39-lap race on the pit stop cycle for a couple laps, where he had several seconds in hand heading into the stop and several more coming out of it.

He took the lead off the line from Daniel Abt, who inherited the pole in the No. 66 Audi Sport ABT entry after Sebastien Buemi lost the pole due to exceeding his available power use in qualifying.

Once Piquet Jr. was through to the lead, Abt ran second ahead of several others – notably teammate Lucas di Grassi, Andretti Autosport’s Jean-Eric Vergne and e.dams Renault’s pair of Nicolas Prost and Sebastien Buemi.

The hometown hopes for Andretti’s Scott Speed ended on Lap 4, when the California native smacked the wall on exit of the Turn 1/2 chicane. Speed ended second in Miami but didn’t follow that up today.

That caused one safety car period, and a second followed several laps later when Charles Pic made a late, low percentage lunge into the hairpin turn (Turn 7) that contacted Jarno Trulli and spun them both around.

Abt was first of the leaders to pit on Lap 22, while the majority of the rest followed on Lap 23. Bruno Senna, Salvador Duran, Loic Duval, Jaime Alguersuari and Pic were last of the leaders to pit on Lap 24.

Piquet Jr. maintained the gap on the pit sequence, with Vergne up to second, Abt in third, di Grassi fourth and Buemi fifth.

Some of the leaders fell out of contention in the late stages. Abt and Prost each earned late-race drive throughs, Abt for over use of power and Prost for contact with Jerome d’Ambrosio. That dropped Prost back to 14th and Abt 15th at the finish.

Piquet Jr. was able to cruise home to the victory by 1.705 seconds over Vergne, who delivered Andretti’s third runner-up finish this season by a third different driver. It also marks the Frenchman’s elusive first podium finish in the series.

Di Grassi made it back to the podium in third, with Buemi fourth after starting 10th due to his grid penalty, and Senna in the top five after maximizing his pit strategy from 12th.

Senna and Prost had one brief dice at Turn 3, which sounded nice to hear – Senna’s uncle Ayrton never raced at Long Beach, while Prost’s father Alain failed to score a point in Long Beach in three starts.

Di Grassi reassumes the points lead with Prost’s penalty and non-points finish, although Piquet Jr. has closed to within 1 point (75-74).

RESULTS: Round 6

Travis Pastrana leads flag-to-flag in Nitro Rallycross as the series returns to America

Pastrana Nitro Rallycross
Barry Chin / Getty Images
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Travis Pastrana waited until the final trip around ERX Motor Park to take his Joker Lap – a longer way around the course that all drivers must do at least once in a race – and came out cleanly to win his first Nitro Rallycross race of 2022. With this win, Pastrana is the third driver to visit Victory Lane in the first three rounds of the 2022-23 season.

“This is the closest to a motocross track,” Pastrana told Katie Osborne on Peacock. “Thank you so much for a beautiful facility. It’s been a rough start to the season and I’m so thankful to be back out here. We had a good run in the side-by-side and now for this. This is much needed.”

Another thing needed was the sense of improvement. And Pastrana earned that affirmation each time he completed a lap around the course.

“I get my lap times read out and they said ‘fastest time of the week,’ ‘fastest time of the week’ (each time around) ” Pastrana said. “This is really special. We’re a long way behind in the championship, but welcome to America.”

In a pre-race press conference, Pastrana said that as Nitro Rallycross heads back to America, it was time for an American to win and he made good on his promise. Pastrana took the early lead over Robin Larsson and let the back of his Subaru hang out, taking risks he might not otherwise take if not for his need to win.

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Larsson’s second-place finish completed a perfect sweep of the podium in three rounds. In fact, he has not yet finished worse than second after winning the opening round at Lydden Hill in the United Kingdom and finishing second at Strangnas in Sweeden.

Fraser McConnel rounded out the podium for his best result of the season. He finished fourth in each of the first two rounds.

Last year, Pastrana finished second in this race to Scott Speed before narrowly edging his teammate for the championship.

Andreas Bakkerud crashed in prelims, but rebounded to finish just off the block in fourth. Bakkerud won the second round ahead of his teammate Larsson.

Oliver Bennett completed the top five.

Minneapolis is the first of three rounds scheduled in the United States. Next on the schedule is Glen Helen, Calif. on Octo 30 and then Phoenix at Wild Horse Pass on November 12th. Nitro Rallycross will then head to Saudi Arabia in December to continue their 2022-23 season.