Formula E: Cassidy wins inaugural Portland race

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Climbing from a lowly P10 on the starting grid, Envision Racing's Nick Cassidy took his third win of the 2022/2023 FIA Formula E Word Championship to head home Avalanche Andretti racer Jake Dennis and TAG Heuer Porsche driver Antonio Felix. F1Technical's Balázs Szabó reports on the thrilling Round 12, the inaugural Southwire Portland E-Prix.

In front of a huge crowd of more than 20,000 fans, Jake Dennis started in Julius Bär Pole Position and led the opening stages of the sold-out debut race for the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship in Portland. Sacha Denestraz followed the race leader with Rene Rast, Norman Nato and Jake Hughes forming the top 6.

On Lap 4, the Safety Car was deployed as Roberto Mehri's Mahindra stopped on the track after suffering technical trouble and requiring recovery.

When the action continued three laps later, Nato led the way from da Costa and Dennis.

Right on the first lap following the safety car interruption, many drivers went through the attack zone including the leading trio, Cassidy, Rast, Maximilian Guenther and Nico Mueller.

All of them opted for a two-minute power boost with the exception of Cassidy and Mueller with both of them deciding to use a six-minute attack mode. Interestingly, with many drivers going through the attack mode, Nato maintained the lead from da Costa while Dennis dropped down to P7.

On Lap 10, Da Costa went through the attack mode for a 6-minute power boost, but he deiced at the worst possible moment as Mueller crashed out just a few seconds later. The Swiss driver fired off the track at high speed into a 27G impact with the wall at Turn 10, reporting "no more brakes".

The action resumed seven laps later as it took long to clear the track. Following the delay, Nato led from Cassidy, Guenther, Mortara, da Costa, Dennis, Rast, di Grassi, Ticktum with standings leader Wehrlein rounding out the top 10.

Interestingly, drivers were eager again to activate their power boost on the opening lap after the safety car intervention. Holding on to P10, two-time champion Jean-Eric Vergne went through the grass and gravel at Turn 10. but he could collect his car and rejoin the track safely.

In the meantime, the two Maserati and Jaguar cars made huge inroads with Guenther and Mortara occupying P2 and P7 respectively while Sam Bird and Mitch Evans went up the order to take P4 and P6 respectively.

On Lap 22, using his extra energy, Porsche's da Costa made the jump on the leader to hit the front. After that, the Season 6 champion started to strech his legs and build up a gap from Cassidy.

Following his excursion through the grass, Vergne managed to climb up the field and come back to P4 and was eager to attack Guenther as the race approached its final phase.

At the sharp end of the field, Cassidy closed in on da Costa who was unable to cement the margin he had built up earlier.

With four laps to go, the race direction issued a statement, confirming that the race would be extended by four laps due to the long safety car interruption.

On Lap 28, Cassidy retook the lead from da Costa with Dennis also going past the former Formula E champion. The British driver displayed great late-race pace as he tried to go for the lead. However, da Costa managed to fight back and retook P2 from the Avalanche Andretti driver.

On his 29th birthday, Evans also showed willigness to get involved in the battle for the lead. On the final lap, the leading trio - Cassidy, da Costa and Dennis - managed to escape from the chasing pack with Dennis overtaking da Costa halfway though the lap.

The Briton had one per cent more energy left than the race leader Cassidy, prompting him to close in on the New-Zealender as the pair approached the final sector. However, Cassidy managed to cling on to the lead to take his third win of Season 9.

Race winner Cassidy commented: “It’s cool. I’ve had a good run in America the last couple of years. I love racing here. That race was fun. Look it’s close. The guys we’re racing are top. Jake did an amazing job in quali. I think he was unlucky to be starting on pole - today wasn’t the race to be doing that. And António in these races is always fantastic as well. It’s close, it’s fun, it’s Formula E.

“To be fair, I saw Mitch up with me at stages, I saw Seb, I saw Sam. And we all started far back. So credit to Jaguar and credit to Envision Racing. What a car, what a powertrain.”

As Season 9 approaches its final leg, Pascal Wehrlein lost his championship lead to Dennis who now leads Cassidy in the standings with the leading duo sitting on 154 and 153 points respectively. Porsche's German racer sits in third on 136 points.

Next on the schedule is the Rome E Prix with two races on July 15 & 16 prior to the double-header finale in London.