Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY season finale preview: History will be made in New York
While New York once more acts as the final backdrop for another season of competition, the ABB FIA Formula E Championship isn’t the only series coming to a close, with support racing action from the inaugural season of the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY also culminating in the Big Apple.
Much like Formula E, over the course of the 2018/19 season, the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY has experienced the same levels of unpredictability, with wins from Simon Evans, Katherine Legge, Bryan Sellers, Caca Bueno and Sergio Jimenez ensuring that the series would see five different winners in its first five races.
After eight races across fantastic cityscapes in the Middle East, North America, Asia and Europe, the series’ maiden season is almost over, with only two races remaining in New York. Given the unpredictable and close nature of the racing at the start of the season, it is unsurprising to find out that the fight for the Pro Drivers’ Championship is far from over, with four different drivers standing a mathematical chance of taking the title.
Despite only taking one win this season, standing on the top step of the podium in Rome, through sheer consistency Jimenez finds himself leading the championship with two races remaining and 42 points still on offer. Holding 107 points, however, this lead is far from secure, with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Sellers trailing the Brazilian by only six points after being uncharacteristically out of form in Berlin.
Caca Bueno holds more wins than any other driver in the series after taking his third in Germany, however, through a number of mistakes including a costly lock-up in Hong Kong and a heavy crash in Paris, the Brazilian is only third in the standings, 16 points adrift. Evans meanwhile is the final championship candidate, 20 points behind after failing to match his early form from the I-PACE eTROPHY’s inaugural race in Ad Diriyah.
With the championship being so tightly grouped, the probability that the fight for the title will advance into the final race of the season is high. To take the championship before then, however, Jimenez has a difficult job. The driver must win Race 1 while Sellers must finish fifth or below. If Jimenez finishes in second, Sellers cannot finish the race. Bueno, meanwhile, must remain in-touch with his team-mate and remain within 20 points heading into the final race. For Evans, nothing but pole position and victory in Race 1 will do while Jimenez must retire.
Looking ahead to the race in New York, Motorsport Week caught up with Sellers, discussing the race weekend that could see him etch his name into the early history of the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY as its first ever champion, if he is able to beat Jimenez in the points table: "It’s been very good," he said. "If you look back, I’ve had two unfortunate things happen: Sanya was a big hit to out championship chase where I was awarded no points. To be sitting second after basically missing a whole race is a pretty good position to be in and it’s a shame that those points aren’t there because of the competition we’re up against.
"Sergio [Jimenez] has been extremely consistent and has been where I have been up to this stage as well with very good, strong races. Caca [Bueno] has obviously been extremely good in the last few rounds. He’s really in his stride and become dangerous over the last couple of races and so I feel like in some ways we have our work cut out for us. Those two have started to work very well together. They’re starting to understand the cars and the balance so going into New York, thinking that it’s not going to be difficult would be foolish but I think Katherine [Legge] and I have been very strong as a programme too. Just because we’ve had a couple of blips in the last few rounds… Hopefully, we’ll be able to rectify where we’ve gone wrong.
"To win the championship would obviously be unbelievable. When you take away the fact that it would be the first ever for whoever does it in the first ever electric sedan racing series, that is obviously important all in its own right. But just winning up against the level of competition that we have I think is ultimately what is more important. In the beginning, everyone thought it would be great because it was the first ever. Now I would suspect that all of the drivers are much more in the mindset of winning because you’re up against - it might only be up against five or six pro cars - but those are really, really good cars and I don’t think any of us want to roll over this stage of the season and not win."
The ABB FIA Formula E Championship and Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY will come to a close this weekend, racing on both July 13 and 14 in the Big Apple while automotive journalist Mark Hacking will occupy the final VIP seat of the season, becoming the first guest driver to contest a double-header weekend.