Evans was jumped by Bird off the line, with Jaguar looking like playing it tactically, ensuring the Kiwi could conserve energy in the slipsteam behind the sister I-TYPE 6.
The pair swapped positions again after the opening throes of the race before Sacha Fenestraz (Nissan) made it by Bird first and then Evans for the race lead through the first round of ATTACK MODE activations and a brief break in the action for a Safety Car while Andre Lotterer's car was recovered - the German finding the wall.
High drama on Lap 9 saw muiltiple cars caught up in a massive shunt at the quickest part of the track with Bird losing the rear of his Jaguar over the tricky, rapid and undulating section between Turns 6 and 7.
Sebastien Buemi's Envision Racing clipped back end of the Jaguar on his way through - the Swiss narrowly missing a square-on impact, though still suffering severe and terminal damage to his car. Edoardo Mortara (Maserati MSG Racing) flew into the side of Bird's I-TYPE 6 as it sat stricken in the middle of the circuit while several other drivers picked their way through and escaped with minor damage - including championship contender Pascal Wehrlein (TAG Heuer Porsche).
That meant big ramifications for the teams and drivers - who all thankfully escaped unharmed in testament to the GEN3's resilience - as well as the potential final destination of the title; standings leader Dennis himself also coming within inches of a big race-ending smash.
Fourteen cars made the restart, with Fenestraz heading the pack away with Evans in tow. From there, Dennis seized the initiative, passing Evans with a sweeping move around the outside of the Jaguar driver through Turn 5 before slicing by Fenestraz for the lead on Lap 13. Evans and Cassidy followed by the Nissan in quick succession and after the former missed his second ATTACK MODE activation, it looked like Dennis' race to lose.
However, the Jaguar driver put in the TAG Heuer Fastest Lap of the race twice in a row and made amends to pass Dennis for the lead on Lap 22. The Brit exclaimed he was a "sitting duck", down on energy targets to those around him, and the ease at which Cassidy pinched second from him showed as much.
It was comfortable for Evans to the flag, as he headed home Cassidy with Maximilian Guenther (Maserati MSG Racing) also dispatching Dennis for third at the flag. That was the Kiwi's first win from pole and the first of any polesitter in Rome. The Andretti driver had it all on defending to the line from Jean-Eric Vergne (DS PENSKE) who scented blood. He did hold fast, though, with Vergne following fifth under severe pressure from Nico Mueller for his and ABT CUPRA's best result of the season.
Wehrlein was able to recover to seventh in the end, despite a pit-stop pre-restart and additional damage during that mid-race crash - that drive could prove key in the title battle.
All that left Cassidy as the new leader of the Drivers' World Championship on 171 points - five clear of prior table-topper Dennis. Evans gained ground to go 20 points shy of the lead, while Wehrlein is now 27 points back. Envision Racing heads the way in the Teams' running on 243 points from TAG Heuer Porsche on 237.
With all the damage sustained, teams will be scrabbling for spares and fresh chassis ahead of tomorrow's follow up encounter and Round 14 of the 2022/23 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship. Rome never disappoints!
As it happened...
The Jaguars started cleanly, with Bird getting the jump on polesitter Evans up the inside of the opening corner as Fenestraz took a look at the pair of them from third position.
Further back, Guenther was hung out to dry by a lunging Buemi into Turn 7 with Dennis climbing to fifth and Cassidy able to pick his way by both his teammate and the Maserati into sixth spot. Wehrlein came out of it the worst of those challenging for top spot in the Drivers' standings, as the German was unable to climb from 10th.
It went from bad to worse for Wehrlein, with the title contender suffering damage to his front wing as the field squeezed through that corner, forcing him to box on Lap 2.
Bird headed the way for Evans, no doubt team orders to help the Kiwi conserve energy in the draft of his teammate's Jaguar I-TYPE 6. The pair had Fenestraz for company but half a second back on Lap 3, with Rast, Dennis, Cassidy, Guenther, Buemi, Nato and da Costa rounding out the top 10. A Safety Car ensued that same tour with Avalanche Andretti's Andre Lotterer finding the wall on the run down to Turn 7.
The race went back green on Lap 5 with Evans making it by Bird at Turn 7 and Fenestraz followed by the Brit a lap later - Evans' defensive partner breached, and once again another tour on with Rast passing Bird on Lap 7. Evans, meanwhile, was the first of the front-runners to jump for his initial of two mandatory 50kW ATTACK MODE boosts - a two-minute activation with six more to use, temporarily seeing him drop to second.
Out front, Fenestraz sat two percent lower on usable energy remaining than Evans, with Rast, Bird and the race leading Nissan all jumping for their first ATTACK MODE dose - that lead trio of Fenestraz, Evans and Rast some two seconds clear of fourth backwards.
Multi-car shunt and restart
Drama on Lap 9 saw muiltiple cars caught up in a shunt at the quickest part of the track with Bird losing his Jaguar and Mortara collecting the I-TYPE 6 while Buemi, da Costa and di Grassi were also involved. Bird's car bottomed out coming out of the flat-out Turn 6, causing the Brit to lose the rear.
Buemi clipped back end of the Jaguar on his way through, and Mortara flew into the side of Bird's car as it sat stricken in the middle of the circuit. Several other drivers picked their way through and escaped with minor damage - including championship contender Wehrlein. Big ramifications for the teams and drivers as well as the potential direction of the title - standings leader Dennis also coming within inches of a big race-ending shunt.
Fenestraz, Evans, Rast, Dennis, Cassidy, Guenther, Ticktum, Mueller, Sette Camara, Merhi, Vergne, Vandoorne and formed the order at the standing restart with 16 laps to come with Wehrlein joining the fold too.
Dennis launched away well, leapfrogging Rast for third with Fenestraz heading Evans away. On Lap 11, Guenther tried to make a move on Rast at Turn 7 but couldn't make it stick, allowing Cassidy to sneak by the Maserati into fifth - keeping tabs on his title rivals just ahead. Fenestraz, Evans, Dennis, Rast, Cassidy, Guenther, Ticktum, Mueller, Sette Camara and Vergne filled out the top 10.
Cassidy made more ground on Lap 12 with a move into Turn 14 on Rast for fourth, moving onto the rear of Dennis, Evans and Fenestraz the top three in reverse order. The Nissan driver was struggling out-front with a three-four percent energy defecit and it looked a matter of time before he'd lose P1.
Dennis made a stunning move stick around the outside of Evans through Turn 5 and dispatched leader Fenestraz at Turn 9 for the lead - the Brit making the jump and sensing his opportunity to score a maximum and within half a lap he was two seconds clear of Fenestraz.
The Nissan driver was having to overconsume to hold on to P2 and ended up ceding it to Evans not long later - his race was not with the now lead pair. Dennis jumped for his first ATTACK MODE activation on Lap 17, retaining the lead and immediately setting purple sectors with the team instructing him to manage the gap to Evans.
Cassidy was next to get by Fenestraz, followed by Guenther who moved up into fourth. Dennis, meanwhile, on Lap 18, went for his second 50kW boost - six minutes this time, and falling behind Evans in the process though the Jaguar driver was yet to make his second jump through the ATTACK MODE loop.
Evans got the hammer down and set consecutive TAG Heuer Fastest Laps as he sought to keep Dennis at bay with more energy than the man in P2 in-hand. It looked all for nought though, with the Kiwi missing one of the ATTACK MODE sensors as he went for his second and final boost. No matter, he made his way into ATTACK MODE a lap later and on Lap 22, he sliced by then-leader Dennis for first - the Brit exclaiming he's a sitting duck as Cassidy followed to demote Dennis to third.
With four laps (two added on) to come, Evans looked golden out front and striding to a two-second lead. Cassidy seemed clear in second while Dennis was powerless to resist Guenther who took the Andretti for third. He did, however, just about manage to hold off Vergne and Mueller to keep fourth spot at the line.
Evans was able to stride to a clear win in the end, three on the spin in Rome as he headed home Cassidy and Guenther.