Buemi victorious in first London ePrix, cuts into Piquet’s advantage ahead of Formula E finale

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LONDON – Sebastien Buemi brought himself back into the thick of the fight for the inaugural FIA Formula E championship by winning the first London ePrix race on Saturday at Battersea Park.

Starting from pole position, the Swiss driver was rarely challenged en route to his third victory of the season as he slashed the gap to championship leader Nelson Piquet Jr to just five points ahead of the last race of the season on Sunday.

Piquet could only finish the race in fifth place following an early clash with title rival Lucas di Grassi, who crossed the line just ahead in fourth to give himself an outside chance of winning the championship on Sunday.

Following the decision to reprofile the first corner in the morning, the start of the race took place under the safety car before the drivers were finally released on lap two. From pole, Buemi immediately shot off into the distance, leaving Jerome d’Ambrosio trailing in second place by a couple of seconds after the opening five laps.

Just behind, there was a dramatic twist in the race for the Formula E championship. Running fourth, series leader Nelson Piquet Jr bravely tried to overtake Lucas di Grassi for third place, using his FanBoost to have an extra 40 bhp. However, the two Brazilians made slight contact, forcing Piquet onto the kerbing and to drop back into the clutches of Jean-Eric Vergne. The Frenchman took full advantage of this, slipping into third place on lap three.

Vergne put another spoke in the works at the front by lunging down the inside of di Grassi on lap seven, making a fantastic overtake to seize third place. His Andretti team engineer quickly gave him the call to get his head down and push on for second place, whilst Buemi continued to push on at the front.

Buemi retained his advantage to the first round of pit stops, coming in one lap after the first teams that decided to come in. The Swiss driver retained his advantage after switching cars ahead of d’Ambrosio, who in turn had been caught by Vergne during the pit stop cycle. Di Grassi and Piquet remained in fourth and fifth place respectively, and as the race entered its second half, the advantage lay with Buemi.

However, his lead was eradicated when the safety car was deployed on lap 17 after Daniel Abt crashed at the final corner. The German had been dealing with a steering problem on his car following contact earlier that lap, but ended up in the wall.

The safety car was brought in at the end of lap 20, allowing the drivers to return to full speed. Buemi wasted little time in re-establishing his lead over d’Ambrosio. Di Grassi did appear to make up some ground on Vergne in third place, but soon found his mirrors filled with Piquet in fifth. Despite using his FanBoost again, Piquet was unable to make a pass, and dropped back from his compatriot with five laps remaining.

At the front, Buemi was able to simply monitor the gap to d’Ambrosio behind before crossing the line to win the first London ePrix event and move to within five points of Piquet at the front.

D’Ambrosio managed to keep his head to finish second ahead of Jean-Eric Vergne, who scored his second podium finish of the season in third place. Di Grassi kept himself in the title fight by finishing fourth, whilst Piquet saw his advantage drop to just five points in fifth, edging out Sam Bird on the final lap of the race.

Heading into Sunday’s season finale, just 13 points separate Piquet, Buemi and di Grassi, setting the stage for a thrilling last battle at Battersea Park tomorrow.

Karam, Daly get IndyCar rides with Carlin for Iowa

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NEWTON, Iowa – Sage Karam returns for the second-straight race and Conor Daly is back for another race with Carlin Racing at this weekend’s Iowa 300 NTT IndyCar Series race at Iowa Speedway.

For Karam, it’s his third start of the 2019 season and his second straight with Carlin. In his five starts at Iowa Speedway dating back to 2010, Karam has never finished outside of the top three, recording four wins (USF2000 – 2010, Indy Pro 2000 – 2011 and 2012, Indy Lights – 2013) and scoring his first NTT IndyCar Series podium in 2015 with a third-place finish.

“I’m really excited to be back again this weekend with Carlin and SmartStop Self Storage for the Iowa 300. Iowa Speedway has always been a good track for me in the past, so I’m really looking forward to getting back to work there,” Karam said. “Coming off of a very productive weekend in Toronto, I’m looking forward to applying everything I’ve learned and continuing to work with the team to get the best results possible. A huge thank you to everyone at Carlin and SmartStop Self Storage for a great opportunity to race at one of my favorite tracks.”

Daly is back in a second Carlin entry. Earlier this year, the popular driver finished 11th for Carlin in the DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway on June 8. At Iowa, he will drive the team’s No. 23 Gallagher Chevrolet.

Daly finished 10th in the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge for Andretti Autosport.

Daly raced at Iowa in 2016 for Dale Coyne Racing (finishing 21st) and in 2017 for A.J. Foyt Racing (finishing 19th).

The combination gives Carlin two more drivers to gather additional feedback on the car. Max Chilton remains the team’s primary driver but announced recently that he will forego all oval races to concentrate on street and road courses.

That created opportunities for Karam and Daly.

“We were very impressed with Sage’s steady progression throughout the Toronto race weekend and his willingness to learn and adapt,” said Carlin Team Principal Trevor Carlin. “The fact that he hadn’t been on a street course since 2015 and was still able to come right out of the gate confident and constantly improving every session was extremely impressive.

“The SmartStop Self Storage Chevrolet looked great out on track and their group has been a pleasure to work with, so we couldn’t be more pleased to have them back this weekend in Iowa. Sage has done really well in Iowa in the past, so hopefully we can use his experience and our past success at Iowa Speedway to come away with a good result for the team and our partners at SmartStop Self Storage.”

The Iowa 300 at Iowa Speedway will take place on Saturday, July 20th at 7:15 pm ET and will be televised on NBCSN.