Mahindra team boss Dilbagh Gill has praised his team and Jerome d’Ambrosio for taking an unlikely victory in yesterday’s Marrakesh E-Prix.
D’Ambrosio fought from 10th on the grid to claim his third career Formula E victory, but this was his first on the road because the previous two with Dragon in 2015 and 2016 came after post-race exclusions for Lucas di Grassi.
The Belgian capitalized on the incident between BMW teammates Antonio Felix da Costa and Alexander Sims to take the lead before defending from Envision Virgin’s Robin Frijns and Sam Bird in a final-lap sprint following a safety car to win.
“It played into our hand a lot, yes, but last year we had some victories taken away so you take the good and the bad in equal measures – that’s racing,” Gill told e-racing365.
“It makes it sweeter in a way though because we were strong but I was only ever thinking about fourth or fifth really from where we were on the grid.”
Gill described the heart-stopping final stages of the race when d’Ambrosio had to fend off the advances of Frijns and those behind in a one-lap dash to the finishing line.
“Alejandro [Agag] was standing behind me and he was saying I really hope this doesn’t end under Safety Car and I’m saying the exact opposite,” said Gill.
“It was an epic end to the race and for us an epic victory.”
Gill said that Mahindra’s strategy to ensure d’Ambrosio saved his attack mode applications was key in ensuring he was best positioned to take the maximum points.
A crucial moment in the race occurred when d’Ambrosio, running third at the time, maintained his position ahead of the Virgin cars despite taking the off-line attack mode route.
This put him in a position to take the race lead when the two BMW cars collided with 10 minutes of the 45-minute contest remaining.
“The team managed things super well and the race pace was good and we defended well when we had to,” said Gill.
“Jerome can drive a strong race at the front, he showed that in his earlier career and he’s good at keeping cars behind at crucial times.
“I have to give him a lot of credit, he drove a great race and he executed it well in the last lap sprint finish.”
But Gill asserted that he was not getting carried away with the result which leaves d’Ambrosio 12 points clear at the top of the drivers’ championship.
Mahindra started strongly last season and led the standings for a time, but faded in the second half of the campaign when reliability issues took hold.
“It is way too early to predict because remember last year when we came away from Marrakesh leading both championships,” he said.
“That is still a nightmare for me so I just hope this year we don’t taper off.”