Kevin Siggy made good on his pre-event promise to better manage his nerves and cut out qualifying mistakes by sealing pole position as part of the first group of runners in the session.
He pipped Bono Huis (Mercedes-Benz EQ) and Frederik Rasmussen (DRAGON / PENSKE AUTOSPORT) to the post with Erhan Jajovski (ROKiT Venturi Racing) not only missing out on the benchmark for the first time, but slipping to an eventual ninth some quarter-of-a-second shy.
Siggy got a reasonable drag off the line to lead the pack through the narrow funnel that forms Turn 1 and Turn 2, with the BMW racer able to pull out half-a-second on those behind inside a lap.
The top four were as you were after the opening tour, with Envision Virgin Racing's Graham Carroll making progress to jump into fifth whilst chaos further behind saw Lorenz Hoerzing (ROKiT Venturi Racing), Timea Bencsik (Envision Virgin Racing) and Marius Golombeck (TAG Heuer Porsche) – among others – tripped over each other as the pack concertinaed into the first corner, seeing them slip well down the order.
Jajovski, meanwhile, gained good ground and three positions on the opening tour as he set about doing what he had yet to in Formula E: Accelerate, fighting from the pack rather than striding away from pole as he had become accustomed to doing.
Siggy was the first to blink, diving for ATTACK MODE on Lap 3, temporarily losing track position to Rasmussen before snatching the lead back half way around the next lap. The lead pair were line-astern and had pulled a couple of seconds on Huis, Brljak and Carroll who ran in close company as a trio just behind. Risto Kappet (NIO 333), Jajovski, Martin Stefanko (Jaguar Racing), Nikodem Wisniewski (DS TECHEETAH) and Manuel Biancolilla (Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler) rounded out the top ten.
That decision to go early looked to have paid dividends for Siggy as the Slovenian pulled out a 2.5-second lead over Rasmussen. The BMW racer chose to double up and go for an early second ATTACK MODE activation to yield another 35kW boost right away, on Lap 7, and Rasmussen had to follow suit to match him up – before the group behind had even taken their first dose.
The top three still ran as you were into the final quarter-hour, though the Mercedes-Benz EQ Silver Arrow 02 of Huis was forced into all sorts of shapes into Turn 1 to fend off a racy Carroll – who’d seen off Brljak to move into fourth spot. The second ATTACK MODE shake-up saw Jajovski climb to sixth, having yet to use an activation – opting to save his 35kW boosts until later in the encounter by employing the converse strategy to those around him.
Siggy had himself a little advantage over Rasmussen in terms of remaining usable energy, as well as in time and track position – with ten minutes to run the BMW driver looked well-placed, especially given the Dane just behind could count energy management as his strong suit after his impressive late charge in Hong Kong last time out.
A feisty battle between Biancolillia and Wisniewski saw the former squeeze by the latter at the hairpin before the DS TECHEETAH pushed back through onto the pit-straight; typically muscular Formula E sparring in the battle for ninth.
Marc Gassner (Nissan e.dams), Jakub Brzezinski (Jaguar Racing) and Jan von der Heyde (Nissan e.dams) were also in a bit of a set-to as the trio scrapped for 11th heading towards the final five minutes. Gassner had found his way to the front of that gaggle before being pegged back by Brzezinski who managed a clean drag out of the final corner to slice back beyond the Nissan driver into Turn 1.
The top six of Siggy, Rasmussen, Huis, Carroll, Brljak and Jajovski had strung out heading into the final five minutes. The second round of ATTACK MODE for Huis lit the blue touchpaper for the final few laps, though, with Carroll first swooping by into third – though the Scot was a couple of percent shy of those around him.
Huis helped himself to a final 35kW ATTACK MODE dose right away, and the race-long fight between the pair looked to be decided with the Vegas eRace winner slicing by Carroll at Turn 1 into first spot.
The Envision Virgin Racing man was adamant he would have the last word, and with the pair’s usable energy falling short, he made a dive up the inside of Turn 1 before eventually making a move stick at the hairpin.
It was all for nought, however, as both were a lap shy of their energy calculations and hit zero per cent just as they crossed the start/finish line to start the final lap. They had either dragged each other down by getting embroiled in an all-consuming scrap amongst themselves, thus overdoing the go pedal, or they simply got their maths wrong from the off.
It was all happening in-behind but Siggy was serene at the head of the pack, comfortably running out the winner of Round 3 of Formula E: Accelerate. The Slovenian managed things expertly, with an unorthodox double ATTACK MODE activation inside the opening eight laps creating the gap he needed to manage the rest of the race in comfort.
Rasmussen was kept at arm’s length this time around, finishing 1.3 seconds back from Siggy whilst the lead pair both strode away from third-placed Brljak who wound up some nine seconds off the leader.
Championship leader Jajovski recovered six positions to fourth, having qualified a disappointing tenth. Sefanko, Kappet, Biancolilla, Wisniewski, Brzezinski and Gassner, meanwhile, rounded out the top ten.
"That felt amazing," said Siggy. "I’ve been waiting for that for the first two rounds and I finally made it happen. I was talking to my engineer a lot and that helped me keep calm throughout.
"I was a bit nervous in the first couple of laps but as soon as I saw Bono (Huis) was a couple of seconds behind I went for ATTACK MODE as in testing I was making mistakes using it and I learned from that and only lost one position here jumping through the activation zone. It was crucial to get past Frederik (Rasmussen) in Turn 1 – that’s what got me the win and allowed me to pull a bigger gap. After that, it was just about controlling the energy."
Jajovski holds a nine-point advantage over Siggy, as the North Macedonian sits top of the Drivers' standings on 68 points. BMW i Andretti Motorsport, meanwhile, move into top spot on 80 points, with ROKiT Venturi Racing 12 back in second spot.
Formula E: Accelerate will be back in a month with a visit to Diriyah, after Formula E has raced its opening double-header in the dark in Saudi Arabia on February 26 & 27.