Attack Mode controversy in Diriyah Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy race puts Jimenez’s victory in doubt

by Nathan Hine
Sergio Jimenez - Race two in Diriyah

Sergio Jimenez crossed the line first in the second Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy race in Diriyah, but Attack Mode controversy could award Jaguar VIP driver Abbie Eaton victory with potential penalties pending for the top three.

The race got underway with last season’s champion Jimenez maintaining first position heading into the first corner over yesterday’s race winner Simon Evans. Meanwhile, Alice Powell dropped to fourth place after a late diving move from Yaqi Zhang to move past the British racer. That caused bunching in the middle of the pack as Mario Haberfeld tried to get a piece of the action but was forced to stick in behind.

By lap three, Powell overtook Zhang at turn 16 with a late diving move of her own to restore order in the Pro class. The Chinese racer then utilized that opportunity to deploy his first Attack Mode of the afternoon.

Further down the order, ZEG iCarros Jaguar Brazil Racing driver Haberfeld lost two places to VIP driver Eaton and Pro-Am Saudi Racing driver Fahad Algosaibi in the midst of the chaos in the early stages.

But it was not long before Haberfeld closed up to the back of Algosaibi. The Brazilian deployed his Attack Mode and then lined up an overtake the Saudi driver into the first corner.

Ultimately however, it ended in disaster as Algosaibi weaved down the start-finish straight which caused a pin-ball effect as the Saudi Racing driver crashed into the wall and into Haberfeld. But it was only the Saudi racer who was eliminated from the race as he ended firmly in the crash barrier at the first corner. This was because the Saudi racer tried to anticipate Haberfeld’s dummy, but was glued to Haberfeld which meant that he met a sticky end to cap off his home race weekend. The Safety Car was then deployed, but with the crash barrier potentially damaged, the race was stopped as the red flag was deployed.

When the race restarted, the top four all deployed Attack Mode and were able to scamper up the road from Grand Tour star Eaton, who was holding firm in fifth position for the second successive race.

But an incident further behind saw Mashhur Bal Hejalia overtake Haberfeld before the control line as they were switching positions over the start/finish straight. The stewards have noted the incident and will investigate it after the race.

While Zhang was able to stick with the top three initially, but after he ran out of Attack Mode, he soon fell back into the clutches of Eaton who was bringing Haberfeld with her in the final few laps of the race.

Eaton attempted an overtake several times at turn 16 with no success until on the penultimate lap of the race, she managed to force Zhang wide on the corner entry. He then thought he had one more Attack Mode to arm, so tried to use the opportunity to do so, but sacrificed a place to Haberfeld as a result.

There was more Attack Mode controversy at the front as Jimenez and Evans did not arm their Attack Mode in time to use the full two minutes before the end of the race. As for Powell, she tried to arm it on the penultimate and final lap, but failed to do so on both occasions, so finished the race without arming her second Attack Mode.

So there could well be a severe penalty for Powell and possibly for Jimenez and Evans as well as they did not use the full extent of their second Attack Mode. So while Jimenez crossed the line first, there is a very real possibility that Eaton could be victorious as the first driver to have properly followed the rules.

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