Formula E still the priority for Nelson Piquet Jr.

© NextEV TCR

SPA – Defending FIA Formula E champion Nelson Piquet Jr. says that the series is still his priority despite recently dovetailing his commitments with a drive in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

Piquet won the inaugural Formula E title at the London finale last June, but has been unable to defend his crown thanks to issues with the powertrain supplied by his NextEV TCR team.

The Brazilian confirmed ahead of the WEC season opener at Silverstone that he would be joining Rebellion Racing in the LMP1 Privateer class, racing alongside Formula E colleagues Nicolas Prost and Nick Heidfeld.

Despite his struggles in Formula E, Piquet remains adamant that the series is his priority, with his WEC commitments simply being a good complement to it.

“It’s very easy going over here, you’re sharing a car with these other drivers. There’s no really big competition,” Piquet told NBC Sports.

“To be honest it’s much more of a relaxed weekend than anything else. You try to work together, try to get the car good. There’s a lot of teamwork. So it’s not stressful.

“Obviously you want to win out of the three cars, but it’s different to Formula E. You need to do well to keep your job. Over here, I’m doing this as a fill-in to help them out. They called me last minute, it’s not something I was aiming for.

“Formula E is my priority. I have a long-term contract over there, so that’s where you get really stressed and get pissed off when the car’s not good.”

Piquet is hopeful that NextEV will be able to resolve the issues with its powertrain for season three, which is due to be tested on-track for the first time before the Berlin ePrix in two weeks.

“Hopefully it’ll be better, I don’t think it can get any worse,” Piquet said.

“The team is working really hard to get their act together for next year. I’m positive that they’ll do a good job.

“Maybe because we fell back so much, I need to be a bit realistic too. Maybe from one year to another you’re not going to go from last to first, but at least you can have a competitive car to be running top five.

“It’s a different thing than getting to the grid every weekend and knowing you’re going to be running from 18th to 15th.”

Even in light of NextEV’s struggles, Piquet is set to remain with the team for next season, saying there is no consideration of moving away.

“No. I have a long-term contract with them, so at the moment, I’ll be with them,” Piquet said.

Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan after controversial block pass at Detroit


Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.

Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.

On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.

One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.

After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.

The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.

“It was good racing; it was fun,” Deegan said at about the 27-minute mark in the video above. “I just had some fun doing it.”

Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.

Lawrence defends Deegan
Jordon Smith failed to make the Detroit Supercross Main and fell to sixth in the points. – Feld Motor Sports

“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”

Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.

“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”

As Deegan and Smith battled, Jeremy Martin took the lead. Deegan finished second in the heat and backed up his performance with a solid third-place showing in the main, which was his second podium finish in a short six-race career. Deegan’s first podium was earned at Daytona, just two rounds ago.

But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.

Lawrence defends Deegan
A block pass by Haiden Deegan led to a series of events that eventually led to Jordon Smith failing to make the Main. – Feld Motor Sports

“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.

“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”

Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.

“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.

“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”

The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.