Extra curricular: FE drivers star in DTM & Blancpain GT
With the 2016/17 Formula E season only taking up nine weekends of the season, many of the drivers participate in other series’ to fulfil the need for speed and gun for titles across the board.
Nine Formula E drivers are signed up to the World Endurance Championship, including Jose Maria Lopez and reigning champion Sebastien Buemi, while one former and two current Formula E drivers compete in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters. Blancpain GT is also represented by Antonio Felix da Costa and Robin Frijns.
Over the past weekend all three of these categories held championship rounds. Spa-Francorchamps hosted the second round of the WEC season, while DTM headed to Hockenheim in Germany and Blancpain GT hit the Kentish countryside and tackled Brands Hatch.
Each Formula E driver found varying levels of success in their respective categories. Some emerged victorious, with Buemi and Alex Lynn taking victories at Spa, while others suffered premature ends to their weekends.
DTM had three faces familiar to Formula E in its ranks. Faraday Future Dragon Racing driver Loic Duval made his debut in the series, while Venturi’s Maro Engel returned to the series and one-time Team Aguri racer Rene Rast.
It was a baptism of fire for Duval, who had high hopes after transferring series from WEC to DTM with the Audi team. The Frenchman qualified last in the opening race, 1.6s off the pace of pole sitter Lucas Auer. The only way was forward for Duval, who passed four cars en route to 14th place while Engel finished in 17th place after qualifying seventh.
Race 1 fared better for Rast, who put his Audi RS5 14th on the grid but drove a superb race to elevate himself up into a sixth place finish, taking eight championship points in the opening race.
While Engel put in a solid drive to take tenth place and a point in race two, Duval tangled with Robert Wickens at the first corner and eventually retired, while Rast qualified second but was taken out during the race.
Loic Duval: Q18, P14
Maro Engel: Q7, P17
Rene Rast: Q14, P6
Loic Duval: Q13, P15 (R)
Maro Engel: Q9, P10
Rene Rast: Q2, P16 (R)
Blancpain GT saw MS Amlin Andretti drivers Frijns and da Costa in action, the latter making his debut in the series, paired with Philipp Eng in the #99 BMW M6 GT3 while Frijns shared the #17 Audi R8 LMS with Stuart Leonard.
Both drivers showed their potential throughout the day, with da Costa and Frijns finishing fifth and seventh respectively in the qualifying race, but the main race saw contrasting fortunes for the duo.
With the Lambourghini Huracan GT3 of Christian Engelhart and Mirko Bortolotti dominating the day, the best that Frijns and Leonard could hope for was second place which they duly delivered, albeit 18.9s off the lead.
da Costa put in a strong first stint in the #99 BMW, running well within the top ten and briefly battling with his Formula E team-mate, but after handing the car over to Eng a mishap in the pit lane saw the #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Dani Juncadella swerve into the path of the #99 while trying to avoid a wayward wheel. The incident ended the day for da Costa having looked good for a points-paying finish.
Antonio Felix da Costa: P5
Robin Frijns: P7
Antonio Felix da Costa: P29 (R)
Robin Frijns: P2
Blancpain GT images courtesy of Freddie Jenner
WEC image courtesy of Rajan Jangda
Mercedes DTM image courtesy of Daimler AG
Audi DTM image courtesy of Audi AG