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Frijns fights at the front and claims a fabulous podium in Portland

Envision Racing’s Robin Frijns claimed a hard-won second place to kick off the Portland E-Prix double-header weekend

Hot and humid conditions greeted the drivers for Round 13 of the 2023–24 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship. And after 27 laps of the Portland International Raceway, Envision Racing’s Robin Frijns showed victory is not far away as he spent all race at the front of the field, occasionally leading, and ended up with a vital 18 points for himself and the team.

Frijns was superb in qualifying for the first race of the Portland E-Prix weekend. The Dutch driver made it into the semi-finals, losing out to Norman Nato, lining up third on the grid. 

Throughout the race, Frijns looked good for a podium finish, spending the early stages embedded in the top three. By the time the opening race of the weekend came to a close, Frijns benefited from a penalty handed to winner on the road Mitch Evans, finishing third, but ending up second, and claiming his first podium since the Diriyah E-Prix in February.

THE RACE

When the lights went out to start the race, Frijns emerged from the tricky opening chicane having dropped one position to fourth, and ended the opening lap down in seventh. The Envision Racing man quickly moved back into third at the beginning of lap two.

By lap five, Andretti’s Nato led the race with Frijns, yet to take his first Attack Mode phase, holding third place. As the pack bunched up to conserve energy, Frijns took his first Attack Mode, dropping to sixth, which became fifth as Jake Hughes went off at the final turn.

Two laps later, Frijns found himself momentarily in the lead, dropping back to fourth after a second Attack Mode phase, as up front Jake Dennis hit the front. On lap nine, Frijns and Envision Racing once more cycled to the front before handing the lead to Evans.

At the halfway point, the general race pace noticeably started to pick up, and things started to get pretty tight at the sharp end of the field. Despite the increasingly frantic racing, Frijns held onto a solid fifth place with a good view of the lead. And on lap 14, Frijns once again grabbed first place.

Entering the final 10 laps, Frijns remained in podium place, as Nick Cassidy assumed first place in the Jaguar, followed by António Félix da Costa. The big question was, when would the leaders pull the trigger and go at full pace to the chequered flag?

The answer was lap 21. Cassidy started to increase his pace and extend his lead over da Costa, as Frijns held on in fourth place, behind Evans, and ahead of Jean-Éric Vergne. Crucially, Evans was racing with a five second penalty looming over him, and as a result, Frijns a podium finish was well within reach as he held fourth approaching the final couple of laps.

There was huge drama as leader Cassidy slid off the circuit at the final turn on the penultimate lap, promoting the penalised Evans into the lead, da Costa into second, and Frijns up into third. 

Entering the 27th and final lap, Frijns held third, and finished in that position as Evans took the chequered flag, only to lose out due to his earlier penalty. All this meant that as da Costa took the win, Frijns was handed a hugely well-deserved second place for the second time this season, revealing that the pace is there for the Envision Racing team and there is plenty more to come for Sunday’s race. 

Drivers’ standings (after Rd 13):
1. Nick Cassidy, 167pts
2. Pascal Wehrlein, 143pts
3. Mitch Evans, 140pts
4. Oliver Rowland, 131pts
5. Jake Dennis, 121pts
12. Robin Frijns, 41pts
16. Sébastien Buemi, 24pts
22. Joel Eriksson, 2pts

Teams’ standings (after Rd 13):
1. Jaguar TCS Racing, 307pts
2. Porsche Formula E Team, 252pts
3. DS Penske, 171pts
4. Andretti Formula E, 161pts
5. Nissan, 157pts
8. Envision Racing, 67pts