A “nervous” Oliver Rowland broke the streak of German winners to secure a debut victory in the ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge in a dramatic fifth round on the Tempelhof track in Berlin.
With the simulator racing series dominated to date by German duo Maximilian Guenther and Pascal Wehrlein, the British driver spoiled the party to become the first non-German winner of the championship, in his rivals’ own backyard.
Rowland triumphed in the second round of the BRDC Esports Championship at Monza earlier this week and made it two online race wins in a sensational few days for the 27-year-old.
But despite his recent online racing successes, Rowland admitted after the race that he was sweating under pressure from Mercedes-Benz EQ’s Stoffel Vandoorne.
He said: “After the last few weeks I have been unfortunate, so I was keen to just stay out of trouble. I knew that Stoffel was fast so I didn’t really want to fight him, so when they started fighting together I just took the opportunity when it came!
“I was worried because Stoffel was so fast, I had to be really perfect and then in those last few laps I was so nervous, so I was just trying to hold it together.
“After last week I was a bit disappointed, I had put a lot of practice in and then the first corner was taken away from me, so this week I thought I would just do it as I go and it seemed to work. I think the pace has been pretty good the last three rounds, I just haven’t put it all together.”
Vandoorne started on Julius Baer pole position for the third time in the competition, but was overtaken by Daniel Abt early in the race, with the German later losing his lead to Rowland, who held off a late challenge from second-placed Vandoorne.
Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler driver Abt was the best of Formula E’s real-life winners in his country’s capital, with the 2018 Berin E-Prix winner finishing third at the chequered flag. However, the Audi driver was later disqualified by stewards for sporting misconduct, and finished with zero championship points.
Championship leader Pascal Wehrlein (Mahindra Racing) was therefore promoted to third, while winner of the first two races Maximilian Guenther (BMW i Andretti Motorsport) claimed sixth place to stay within the championship hunt.
There was chaos at the first corner as several drivers crashed out, with Abt, Vandoorne and Rowland running away from the pack to contest for the lead in the race.
The results see Wehrlein remain top of the driver standings on 86 points, with Vandoorne taking second place on 78 points with Guenther in third on 73 points.
Earlier in the day, sim racing expert Kevin Siggy took a commanding victory in the Challenge Race, to take a firm lead in the competition to win a real drive in a Gen2 Formula E car.
The ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge continues with round six on Saturday 30 May, live on Eurosport 2 from 15:30 BST