Nikodem Wisniewski (DS TECHEETAH)notched his best finish so far in Formula E: Accelerate last time out at the Electric Docks, pinching second with an opportunistic move on Frederik Rasmussen (DRAGON / PENSKE AUTOSPORT) on the final lap.
Erhan Jajovski (ROKiT Venturi Racing) took the race win in Round 5 to hammer home his advantage over Rasmussen and Kevin Siggy (BMW i Andretti Motorsport) in the standings, but several drivers, including Wisniewski, look to be really getting into their stride as the six-race esports series reaches its double-points climax with Thursday's Grand Final around the virtual streets of Rome.
Round 1 at New York City saw the introduction of ATTACK MODE and energy management into rFactor 2, which threw everything up in the air among the grid of world-class sim racers who'd yet to experience full-bore electric motorsport and the trade-off between outright pace and keeping on top of usable energy.
TUNE IN: Watch Formula E: Accelerate
The Formula E: Accelerate grid is arguably the most competitive in motor racing esports history, with the reigning F1 Esports champion Jarno Opmeer (Mercedes-EQ) joining Race at Home Challenge winner Siggy and the likes of Wisniewski - himself a runner up in The Race's All-Star series and a winner at the Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2020.
Past performance and kudos have not ensured results, given just how tight it's been. Those who best and most quickly grasped the balancing act of energy usage and pure speed have been the racers at the front of the pack.
On the evidence of Round 5, though, with Wisniewski heading a bunch of drivers who managed their series-high results, competition will be even tighter at the Grand Final as the field of sim racing elites continue to hone their abilities to the last.
READ MORE: Seven reasons to follow Formula E: Accelerate
"It was a really tough race," said Wisniewski. "I struggled in the past rounds in qualifying at Diriyah, and that event was completely terrible for me. I clipped the wall and that was it and I was sad about that for a few days. So, I was super focussed here to cut out the mistakes and the results I managed to get were really good.
"I want to go to the next level for the next round and be in the top five mix. I was saving energy for the first laps, so I had some spare because I could slipstream Frederik (Rasmussen). I saw he lifted a bit more than I did and there may be a chance. If you have the chance to climb higher than even third then you go for it, and I was able to make a move work."
The 26-year-old Wiliams eSports driver toppled ice-cool Rasmussen on the last lap in Round 5. That was no mean feat with the Dane looking more machine than man at times in Formula E: Accelerate, and leading the charge behind Drivers' Championship leader Jajovski in the hunt for a share of a €100,000 prize pool and a real-world Gen2 test drive.
Even Rasmussen, though, was struggling to figure out how those around him were able to stretch their usable energy as far as they did.
RACE REPORT: Catch up with Round 5 in full
"I don’t get what’s going on," he said post-race. "I feel like the others are faster than me and use less energy. I had good pace but I was clearly missing something with the energy and I couldn’t do anything about them."