Pandemonium in Bern

Pandemonium in the Pits After Massive Pile Up

The final of the Voestalpine European E-Prix Trophy was held in Bern today — the Swiss city of the bear — where the crowds lined every inch of space 8 or 9 deep right around the length of the 2.750 km hard-core street circuit.

A new track in a new location, where everything is different, comes just when the drivers are probably looking for stability, as they head into the final few races in the 2018/19 ABB FIA Formula E series.

And it really was a fun and challenging narrow track with sharp corners, multiple surfaces, manholes, broken tarmac, extreme cambers, an overly long pit, topped by huge changes in elevation. There was no room for error, and energy conservation was key.  More about the track, the European series, and the city of Bern.

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Voelstalpine Finale

We are now just three races from the end of the 2018/19 ABB FIA-Formula-E series but today's race, the 2019 Julius Baer Swiss E-Prix, is the final chance for the contenders to win the Voestalpine trophy. Five European E-Prix's contribute to the trophy, which started amongst the ancient ruins of Rome, then Paris, Monaco, Berlin and now coming to a head in Bern.

Best known for Toblerone chocolate, the Swiss City of Bears, Bern, has opened its roads to motorsport for the first time since 1954. It's a city of ups and downs and therefore it's not at all surprising that elevation will be an important component of the 2,750 km E-Prix track. The steep slopes and inclines have never before been seen in Formula E, making this a challenging finale for the 22 cars competing in the European Championship.

As they go to the start line, eight of the 22 drivers are in with a chance to win the trophy, including New Zealand's own Mitch Evans.

"With lots of character, surface and elevation changes, it's a real, hardcore street circuit," says Panasonic Jaguar Racing's Mitch Evans. "The downhill section into Turn 3 and 4 is going to be tough. You come in with a lot of speed, so there's no room for error. Most braking zones look quite difficult — that's going to be the scariest for us with the most consequences — I think it's going to be a complete rollercoaster but I'm looking forward to it."

Yes, it's going to be an exciting race, with no clear winner yet. Let's take a closer look at those who are in with a chance.

Favourite: Jean-Eric VERGE

The current Voestalpine leader is 29-year old Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne, racing for DS Techeetah. Vergne won in Monaco and placed third in Berlin. Therefore he only needs a podium finish to clinch the 2019 European Trophy — that is unless Lotterer, di Grassi or Buemi get to climb onto the podium.

With the 2017/18 Championship Title to defend, and 102 points this season, the pressure will be on JEV. The charismatic driver started his motorsport career in karts at the tender age of 4. His long career has included 58 Formula One grand prix. In 2014 he made the switch to Formula-E, joining first Andretti Motorsport, then switching to Virgin Racing and now DS Techeetah. He has raced 53 E-Prix's with 7 wins and 19 podium finishes, making him one of the most experienced electric car drivers in the world.

The challenger - Andre LOTTERER

Despite not achieving a win yet this season, JEV's teammate Lotterer has placed on the podium often enough to be a serious contender. Any podium place could be enough for this German driver to take the trophy home. 

Making a name for himself at a young age, 39-year old Lotterer made the switch from fossil fuel racing to electric last season. 

The underdog - Mitch EVANS

Don't underestimate the Underdog.  Mitch Evans has been in the points on nearly every race this season, including top of the podium in Rome.

Currently placing sixth in the championship series, Mitch is in with a chance. Just 33 points separate him from Championship leader JEV, so clinching the voestalpine European races trophy (with any podium finish) would provide a much-needed lift to Evan’s Championship hopes. 

The 24-year old Kiwi driver has entered 34 E-Prix, with his maiden win in Rome, and 2 podium places. This is his third Formula-E series, during which he has remained with British racing outfit Jaguar. Evans started his motorsport career in karts at the age of six and won the NZ Grand Prix at the age of 16. Moving to GP2 in 2013 and aged just 18, he became the youngest driver in the field's history to stand on the podium after finishing third in Sepang, Malaysia.

The comeback – Robin Frijns

After a spectacular win in Paris despite pouring rain and hail, the Dutch driver Frijns has had a sensational return to form in the all-electric series but will it be enough to be crowned king of the voestalpine European races?   

The strategist - Lucas di Grassi

One of the undisputed masters of the all-electric street racing series, Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler’s Lucas di Grassi has once again made up for lost ground in Europe. With a win in Berlin, the Brazilian driver now sits second in the Championship standings behind leader Jean-Eric Vergne. Should di Grassi reach the podium for the second time in the voestalpine European races, the Brazilian has a strong chance of clinching the trophy ahead of his second title challenge in New York City. 

The rookie – Oliver Rowland

Rowland doesn't have the depth of experience, but he has managed to outperform his highly-seasoned Nissan e.Dams teammate Sebastien Buemi, who sits behind him tenth in the standings. With two podiums, one after finishing second in Monaco, the rookie will need to slot into the top two places on the podium to be in with a chance of lifting the voestalpine European races trophy ahead of New York.  

The master - Sebastien Buemi

Going purely by career wins in Formula E, Nissan e.dams’ Sebastien Buemi is the most successful driver in the history of Formula E with 12 victories to his name. But despite his impressive win rate, the Swiss driver is yet to secure a win in the 2018/19 season. Now, in his local race here in Bern, Buemi will be desperate to top his second-place finish in Berlin and take the voestalpine European races trophy on home turf. To be in with a chance, Buemi will need to make it to the top two steps of the podium at the very least.  

The outsider - Stoffel Vandoorne

So far, the 2018/19 Formula E season hasn’t been kind to newcomers HWA Racelab. With 38 points in total, the team sits ninth in the standings, 150 points adrift of leaders DS Techeetah. Despite the team’s overall position, driver Stoffel Vandoorne has enjoyed his first European Formula E campaign, scoring his first and only podium after finishing third in Rome. Nothing short of a win will enable the Belgian driver to lift the voestalpine European trophy here in Bern. 

Home race hero Sebastien Buemi is 'confident' of ending his 29-race victory drought while the 'hardcore street circuit' leaves 'no room for error' as the drivers count down the hours until the 2019 Julius Baer Swiss E-Prix kicks off in Bern.

TUNE IN TO TVNZ DUKE TO WATCH LIVE AT 3AM, OR WATCH THE RERUN AT 12:15 SUNDAY.

Don't forget to give our Kiwi driver your Fanboost vote.

 

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BMW - The Next 100 Years

Is BMW still relevant in 2019?

[editorial by Rachelle Tilsley]

The subject of what’s been happening to BMW’s sustainability focus over the past five years, since they released the fully electric i3, is often debated.

With the release of the i3, they had the lead on their competitors as an electromobility pioneer. Then they seemed to fritter that away with a lack of progression, while other manufacturers charged on ahead.

But is that really the case? Let’s take a closer look at BMW.

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On the Road

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Repco Supports EV

The automotive world is changing and some commercial entities are quickly recognising the opportunities that this will bring. One of these businesses is Repco New Zealand.

Repco New Zealand is proudly supporting the #LeadingTheCharge 2019 Great EV Road Trip.

"Now in its 5th season, this is a fantastic annual event for Repco to be part of," says Richelle Ashman, Marketing Manager NZ. "Repco recognises Electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming a popular choice for New Zealand drivers."

Repco has been providing New Zealanders with what they need to get their vehicle road ready for over 95 years. Repco leads the charge in the automotive parts aftermarket, which makes Repco a fitting partner to the #LeadingTheCharge 2019 Great EV Road Trip.

If you are coming along to a Leading The Charge event in Dunedin, Christchurch, Palmerston North, Auckland and Whangarei, be sure to pick up a Repco voucher to save on your next purchase at you nearest Repco store.

I used my voucher to buy seat covers for my BMW. Thanks Repco.

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Taupo Turns It On

Taupo turned on glorious weather for the 2019 Road Trippers.

After the cancellation of the Rotorua Night Market due to inclement weather, the Great EV Road Trip 2019 began at stop 2 – Taupo – on the Colonel Roberts Reserve, right in the heart of the eating quarter of Taupo – and on the waterfront. 

 

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Bird Brains It

BREAKING NEWS: AFTER A PENALTY, THERE HAS BEEN A CHANGE IN PODIUM PLACINGS (SEE END)

 

Race 5 of the season was the 50th Formula E race and it was therefore fitting that the series was back in China where the very first Formula E race was held. Although that race was in Beijing while this 5th race of Season 5 was on the waterfront streets of downtown Hong Kong. It was also the 50th Formula E race for veteran Brazilian driver, Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler)

The rain held off yet again, but the track was in various degrees of wet and dry from an earlier downpour, making driving tricky especially over the painted areas of the street track which become like ice when wet.  The track had 10 turns, six to the right and four to the left with mixed surfaces.

It was a game of cat and mouse between German, Andre Lotterer driving for DS Techeetah and Briton Sam Bird of Envision Virgin Racing, which ultimately ended in contact with Bird's claws causing a tyre blow-out.

 

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Santiago E Prix - Race 3 Results

British driver Sam Bird wins at Santiago for the Envision Virgin Racing team, making him the only driver to have a win in every season of Formula E.  Unaware that he was under investigation for being underweight during his post-race weigh-in, he accepted his trophy and fortunately was eventually cleared.

On the podium it was (1st) Sam Bird (Envisage Virgin Racing), (2nd) Pascal Wehrlein (Mahindra Racing), (3rd) Daniel Abt (Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler). Abt also got the points for fastest lap, and received one of the five fanboosts.

 

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EV Sales 2018 NZ

EV-Sales is a blog created by Jose Pontes, which tracks plug-in (PEV) sales all over the world, ranking countries and manufacturers by sales.

It's a labour-intensive job, with some countries, like NZ, freely publishing this raw data, but in others the data can sometimes be very difficult to come by. Nevertheless, he manages to produce data on about 80 models in 40 markets, twice a year.  When the #LeadingTheCharge team are looking for sales data of NZ-new PEV, this has been a major source of information for us, and therefore probably of interest to our 13,000 registered members.

Leading The Charge now boasts a Membership of 13,000.

NZ's 2018 EOY has just been published at EV-Sales. In summary, New Zealand is +31% for December 2018 compared to December 2017, and +56% for yr-2018 compared to yr-2017. I'll transcribe the New Zealand specific results in full below this introduction. 

Meanwhile, the EV-Sales blog is a subset of EV-Volumes. EV-Volumes, based in Sweden, collects data on more than just sales. They are tracking: Products, prices, batteries, charging infrastructure, regulations and incentives globally. A quote from their website, reads:

"We share a passion for EVs and their ability to make life easier and more sustainable.  EVs offer unmatched energy efficiency, operating cost and cleanness. We believe in their potential to make automobiles the most entertaining, comfortable, purposeful and affordable we ever had.

"Finding the facts in this emerging, dynamic industry can be very time consuming, often impossible. And it is not likely to be your core business either. We made it ours and want to share our knowledge with you."

 

Just a few important notes to keep in mind when reading this data.

1. It is important to differentiate between sales and total fleet numbers. This is a record of sales year-on-year, not total fleet numbers. So while NZ may be heading towards a 3% of national fleet in new registrations, that does not necessarily mean we have 3% of the total fleet. 

2. NZ's vehicle market is largely driven by used imports. Our biggest selling PEV is the Nissan LEAF. In 2018, these were 100% imported, so don't win a podium spot. Though rumour has it that Nissan will begin selling NZ-new LEAFs in mid-late 2019.

3. While to NZ'ers low-speed vehicles may seem unimportant, from a global climate POV, they are terribly important when used in high population density countries like China and India. The shift to electric NEV in these huge numbers is gradually making a positive impact on inner-city pollution in China. This is especially so, in those regions of China which generate largely renewable sources of electricity to power them.

 

[Rachelle Tilsley - Leading The Charge - 26 Jan 2019]


 

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Melee in Morocco FE

It was anybody's game in Marrakesh during the 2nd Race of the 2019 ABB FIA Formula E Series last night. 

Attack Activation Zone in the forefront of this image of the Marrakesh Street Track. Drivers need to turn on attack mode and activate it by taking the corner wide passing over the red and blue lines. Attack mode at Marrakesh lasts 4 minutes and gives an extra 25kW power.

New Zealander, Mitch Evans, got off to a great start, winning a practice race and breaking the track record with a time of 1.17.22. While he didn’t get the extra series point that he would have if he’d won fastest lap during the main race, it was enough for him to comfortably make it into the top six for the qualifying races. In these he just managed to retain a spot in the top six and was therefore eligible to compete in the Julius Baer Super Pole shoot out.

From that point on nothing went right for the Panasonic Jaguar team. In the Super Pole race, Evans overshot the braking-point unable to make the corner at turn six and driving off track into the skate way. By the time he got back on track, he trailed a miserable 17+ seconds behind the pole position. Having already qualified in the top six, Evans still retained his third-row starting post alongside BMW i Andretti Motorsport's Alex Sims who made good time but placed 5th in the Super Pole.

Evan's teammate, Brazilian Nelson Piquet Jn was starting in ninth position followed by Mahindra Racing's Jerome d'Ambrosio.

WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW

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