Buemi cruises to Beijing ePrix victory for Renault e.dams

© FIA Formula E
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Sebastien Buemi kicked off the second FIA Formula E season in the best possible fashion by winning the Beijing ePrix on Saturday.

After heading up a Renault e.dams front-row lock-out in the series’ first Super Pole session earlier in the day, Buemi retained his lead at the start before controlling proceedings throughout the race en route to his fourth Formula E victory.

Teammate Nicolas Prost lost second place off the line to Nick Heidfeld, and was unable to put the pace advantage of the Renault e.dams car to good use thanks to the tight confines of the Beijing street circuit, leaving him to toil with Lucas di Grassi behind the Mahindra car ahead.

An early full course yellow – another new concept in Formula E – was thrown after Simona de Silvestro crashed out on lap three, giving the drivers a chance to save energy and push for a longer first stint.

Buemi used this to great effect, pulling out a lead of more than ten seconds over the field before making his mandatory pit stop at the end of lap 13. Most of the teams followed suit, with only Loic Duval, Jerome d’Ambrosio, Oliver Turvey, Nathanael Berthon and defending champion Nelson Piquet Jr. opting to stay out for an extra lap.

When a second FCY was called after Antonio Felix da Costa’s car was left stranded at turn two following a tangle with Jacques Villeneuve, the late-stoppers were able to vault up the order and into the top ten, handing the likes of Turvey, Berthon and Piquet an unlikely reprieve.

However, this high lasted just moments for Piquet as an issue caused him to stop out on track. Although he was able to get the NEXTEV TCR car going again, the Brazilian dropped all the way to last. He would eventually finish two laps down, marking a rough start to his title defence.

At the front, di Grassi and Prost had both managed to get the jump on Heidfeld for second place through the pit stops, and soon fired into the distance to begin their own battle.

Pushing hard, Prost overstepped the mark and clipped the wall, causing damage to his rear wing. Despite attempting to continue and, in his defence, keeping with di Grassi, the stewards soon forced Prost to pit, bringing his race to an end with three laps to go.

As Buemi and di Grassi eased home in P1 and P2 respectively, for the second Beijing ePrix in a row, Heidfeld was left with a tight battle on the last lap as Duval and d’Ambrosio tried to pass. Heidfeld managed to hold on, finishing just three-tenths of a second ahead to score Mahindra’s first podium in Formula E.

Duval and d’Ambrosio were forced to settle for fourth and fifth, but their combined result gives Dragon an early lead in the teams’ championship.

Oliver Turvey salvaged sixth place from a rough weekend for NEXTEV TCR, finishing ahead of Sam Bird and debutant Nathanael Berthon. Daniel Abt and Stephane Sarrazin rounded out the points in Beijing.

Formula E returns in two weeks’ time with the Putrajaya ePrix in Malaysia.

Houston Supercross by the numbers: Five riders begin to gap the field

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Chase Sexton stumbled in San Diego and Eli Tomac had a hard fall in Anaheim 2, but the Monster Energy Supercross numbers for Houston suggest they will continue to be the ones to beat in Houston. To do so, they will have to turn back challenges from another pair of riders who have swept the top five in the first three rounds and another with a worst finish of sixth.

Houston Supercross numbers
Cooper Webb’s ability to close races makes him a Houston favorite. – Feld Motor Sports

Despite an accident in his heat in San Diego that sent him to the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ), Sexton recovered to score a top-five that weekend. His podium finish in Anaheim 1 and overall win last week in Anaheim 2 makes him one of the three riders with a perfect top-five record. He is joined by Cooper Webb, who finished second in the first two rounds and fourth last week, and Ken Roczen, whose consistency in the first three races contributed to him grabbing the top spot in this week’s NBC Supercross Power Rankings.

There are reasons to believe Webb and Roczen can keep those streaks alive.

Webb is the only multiple winner at Supercross’ current Houston stadium. His pair of wins came in 2019 and 2021, the same year he won his two 450 championships.

Clinton Fowler points out this week, that Webb has carried that strength into 2023. Webb had a late surge in Anaheim 1, advancing from fifth to second in the final six laps. In San Diego, he set his ninth fastest lap with two to go and his eighth fastest on the final lap. He posted his fastest lap of Anaheim 2 on Lap 12 while the rest of the field did so on Lap 6 on average.

By comparison, Tomac set his 14th fastest lap on the final circuit in route to winning the Main at San Diego while he was trying to keep Webb at bay.

With a sixth at San Diego, Dylan Ferrandis barely missed sweeping the top five in his first three races as did Tomac with a sixth last week at Anaheim 2.

This will be the 46th year Supercross has visited Houston and with 55 races the city is tied for the second-most with Detroit. Jim Pomeroy won the first race in the Astrodome in 1974. Webb won most recently in 2021 in the final race of three held there that year as the series executed a strategy of racing in residencies to limit travel during height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tomac and Justin Barcia also won in Houston in 2021.

Two privateers have started the season on a high note.

Joshua Cartwright and Joshua Varize have each made the last two Mains. Cartwright finished 18th in San Diego and 21st last week in Anaheim 2 – all while working fulltime as a Business Intelligence Analyst at the University of Texas, Dallas. Varize earned a top-15 (12th) in San Diego and was 21st in Anaheim 2 in his third season on a 450.

Michael Mosiman scored his first 250 win last year in San Diego. – Feld Motor Sports

The numbers show none of the active 250 Supercross East riders have won in Houston, so no matter who steps on top of the box, there is going to be a fresh face. That is not surprising since most of the top competitors have not raced at this venue yet.

Michael Mosiman has a pair of top-fives there, however. His best finish was a second in the second 2021 race. Garrett Marchbanks scored a top-10 in his rookie season of 2019 in Houston.

In the 250 East division, Hunter Lawrence is one of the favorites to win the title now that Christian Craig has moved to 450s. Last year he had four wins and nine podiums, but failed to set a fast lap in a race.

The other 250 riders with 2022 wins this week are Mosiman, who earned his first Supercross win last year in San Diego, and Nate Thrasher, who became the fifth new class winner at Daytona.

Jeremy Martin will attempt to extend a record this week in Houston. His division leading SuperMotocross podiums number 65. He has 26 wins in the combined sessions, which ranks fourth all time.

Last Five Houston Winners

450s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Cooper Webb
2021, Race 2: Eli Tomac
2021, Race 1: Justin Barcia
2020, no race
2019, Cooper Webb
2018, Jason Anderson

250s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Colt Nichols
2021, Race 2: Jett Lawrence
2021, Race 1: Christian Craig
2020, no race
2019, Dylan Ferrandis
2018, Aaron Plessinger

By the Numbers

Anaheim 2
San Diego

More SuperMotocross coverage

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Power Rankings after week 3
Malcom Stewart out for “extended duration” after knee surgery
Haiden Deegan makes Supercross debut in Houston, Justin Cooper to 450s
Talon Hawkins set to relieve injured Jalek Swoll in Houston
Jalek Swoll out for an indefinite period with broken arm
Ken Roczen urgently needed a change
Chris Blose joins Pro Circuit Kawasaki in 250 East opener
Seth Hammaker to miss Houston with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list
Injury sidelines Austin Forkner for remainder of 2023 SX
Chase Sexton wins Anaheim 2 in 450s; Levi Kitchen takes 250s
Results and points from Anaheim 2