The following race report has been written by motoring journalist Rachel Boagey following her visit to the 2019 Marrakesh E-Prix:
It is an early start as I head from my hotel to the Formula E circuit in Marrakesh. The sun is rising over the Atlas mountains in the distance but the warmth from it hasn’t quite reached the circuit yet, my phone telling me it’s just reaching above zero degrees.
The Allianz E Village opens its doors at 6.45am and I am there ready and waiting for my very first FIA Formula E race. So are the residents of Marrakesh, who are undoubtedly excited to witness the race taking place in their city for the very first time. As I wander through a long tunnel in the darkness and into the Allianz E-Village I am greeted by the FIA Formula E workers who hand me a Moroccan flag to wave during the upcoming races.
It takes a while for the place to fill, and I walk around in the cold but barely notice as I make the most of the quietness and time to explore all the stalls and racing games there are to play. I grab some breakfast before making my way to the warm up races, where I cheer on the Panasonic Jaguar Racing drivers Nelson Piquet Jr. and Mitch Evans. They both do really well and it looks like the start to a promising day.
After the warm ups come the qualifiers, and as if my view over the Moroccan sunset from the grandstands isn’t enough, I receive a text from a Panasonic Jaguar Racing colleague inviting me into their paddocks to see the racers taking off in their cars for the qualifiers. Try and stop me!
I rush over for midday and am led through the restricted areas by a security guard. The bustling area is full to the brim with people and their ideas. Data guys type away at their computers analysing the findings from the cars while mechanics eagerly poke and prod the cars and unplug their charging cables before they go out on track. I watch Mitch Evans car get unplugged and whizz off onto the track and I even manage to catch a glimpse of Nelson Piquet Jr. as he returns from his qualifying lap, who makes eye contact and I offer him my hand to shake, his sticky and hot from the adrenaline no doubt. Evans returns with his face lit up that he’s going into the Superpole, and we watch with anticipation on the screens with live Panasonic Jaguar Racing commentary to see how he does. He finishes the lap in good time, securing his place in the final race in P9 and Piquet goes in at P11.
A few hours to kill and I find myself sitting in the beautiful sun (temperatures now hitting 28 degrees couldn’t be any more different than this morning!) and eating some gorgeous falafel I found on a nearby food stall. Before I know it, it’s time to head to the grandstand again for the final race.
I hurry over, but I’m almost too late, with all but a few seats already occupied. Families with children everywhere, and I manage to adopt myself into a French family who tell me the seat next to them is free. I sit down and, as if by total fluke, have a fantastic view of the race at what seems to be quite a critical corner for the drivers.
The atmosphere is electric and it’s not just me waving my flag waiting for the race to kick off. A few laps pass and it’s not looking too good for Evans and Piquet who have fallen below their original positions after a small bump in the first round. Evans manages to work his way back up through the ranks, though, finally reaching P9. In a strange turn of events, the driver at the front of the pack has a big blow out, meaning the car and driver have to be escorted off the track.
While it means everyone else moves up one position, it unfortunately also means that a safety car turns up and has to lead all cars around the track. This goes on, and on, and on. Before I know it, there’s only two minutes left of the race and the safety car is still there, meaning the audience is quiet with anticipation. For the last two laps he clears off, but all racing positions stay the same - with Evans finishing in P9 and Piquet in P14.
While it wasn’t the result we wanted, the fantastic location of Marrakesh and the exciting sport that is FIA Formula E and its devoted fans, mean that a great event was had by all. My experience has definitely opened my eyes to how exciting FIA Formula E can be, and the skills and enthusiasm of our drivers means that we’re all looking forward to what the next round may bring.
Team Panasonic Jaguar Racing
About the circuit
The Circuit Moulay El Hassan is the longest track of the season at 2.97km, and will provide a huge challenge for energy management.
Located just a few miles from the centuries-old ramparts of the medina and the largest traditional souk in Morroco, this track is steeped in history. Named after the Morrocan crown prince, the circuit was purpose-built for racing, which may reduce some of the challenges associated with city centre street racing.
The track is wider than most, which should allow for more aggressive driving and cornering. The combination of the speed and sheer length of the track means that the whole team’s eyes will be on the battery’s state of charge, as no driver wants to grind to a halt before the finish line! This will be a great testing ground for the team to further prove the I-TYPE 2’s improved powertrain and learn important lessons for the season ahead.