Championships are nothing new to the Piquet family, but Huntersville resident Nelson Piquet Jr. now possesses the distinction of being the first driver to claim a title in a single-seater electric racing series sanctioned by the FIA.
The son of three-time Formula One world champion Nelson Piquet, the 29-year-old Piquet Jr. earned the FIA Formula E championship by one point over Sebastien Buemi last month in London. In the series’ inaugural season from September 2014 to June 2015, the younger Piquet recorded two victories and five podium finishes. His first victory came in Long Beach, Calif., and his second in Moscow.
“It’s always good to win a championship,” Piquet Jr. said after traveling to 10 cities in nine different countries. “That’s what we live for, winning races and championships. Once you accomplish it, it’s like a big load off your back; relief that you finally did it.
“I have been racing for a long time and I’ve always taken the path in series where drivers had been there much longer and were much more experienced, knew the cars, knew the tracks. This is the first time I have raced in a brand new series with the same cars and brand new tracks for everybody. It’s taken a while to get the right opportunity to show my real talent.”
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Piquet Jr. entered the London doubleheader finale with a 17-point lead in the standings. However, Buemi cut the deficit to four with a victory in the first race. In a race weekend that Piquet Jr. described as “hectic”, he started the finale in 16th, while the drivers he was battling for the title started fifth and 11th.
“I really had to not lose my calm,” Piquet Jr. said. “I had to keep motivated. I had to remember that it wasn’t over; that anything could happen. I just had to drive a hell of a race.”
Once the race started, Piquet Jr. negotiated a difficult track and advanced from 16th to seventh, where he eventually finished. However, if Buemi had taken fourth from Bruno Senna on the final lap, he would have won the championship.
Piquet Jr. said he knew the number of cars he passed during the event wasn’t significant in NASCAR, but in open wheel it meant a lot.
Piquet Jr.’s opportunity to compete in Formula E occurred after he lost his NASCAR ride due to a lack of sponsorship. He turned to Global RallyCross in 2014, eventually finishing fourth in that series’ standings. It was during that series’ season that China Racing hired Piquet Jr. to contend for the Formula E title. Now known as NEXTEV TCR, the team signed Piquet Jr. to a multi-year deal shortly before the finale. However, it doesn’t prohibit him from competing in other racing series when there isn’t a scheduling conflict. He still would like to acquire a NASCAR Sprint Cup road course victory; something that possibly could occur in an electric car. With many auto manufacturers moving toward electric cars, Piquet Jr. believes that one day all racing series will feature them since the sport mirrors trends in passenger vehicles.
“In the future, when there will be so many electric cars out there, there will come a point where people will have to be obliged to race electric cars because there won’t be any point in racing combustion (engine) cars because it’s not what the factories are looking for,” Piquet Jr. said.
When that day arrives, Piquet Jr. will already be experienced in what cost Stephane Sarrazin his victory in the season finale. Sarrazin was assessed a 49-second penalty for exceeding his power allowance. That gave the victory to Sam Bird. Piquet Jr. explained that competitors were given a specific number of kilowatts that could be used in each race. Anyone exceeding that amount was penalized. That rule required Piquet Jr. to become proficient at efficiency management; learning to be quick without wasting energy.
“I think being efficient with the batteries is very similar to being efficient with gasoline,” Piquet Jr. said. “It’s the same concept, basically. I just never really had to be this efficient with anything else. Now I have a much better understanding of how to do it after racing what I did this year.”
And adding a world championship to his racing resume.
Allison Legacy Series Reschedules Hickory Event
The Allison Legacy Series race that was rained out July 3 at Hickory Motor Speedway has been rescheduled for Sept. 7.
Hemric Trails Smith
Kannapolis native Daniel Hemric trails Casey Smith by 35 points heading into the July 24 Southern Super Series race at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla. Standings’ leader Smith and second place Hemric, who now lives in Mooresville, are the only multi-race winners this season in the series. Each driver has two victories.
Another NHRA Victory for Anderson
NHRA Pro Stock competitor Greg Anderson retook the point lead in his class with his fourth victory this season in the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals. The victory at Norwalk, Ohio, was the Mooresville resident’s third at that dragway and the 78th of his career. The four-time NHRA Pro Stock champion owned a 60-point lead over Erica Enders-Stevens after the Fourth of July weekend. Anderson’s teammate Jason Line, also of Mooresville, was third in the standings.
McMahon, White, Graves Win at East Lincoln
Concord’s Tim McMahon and Stanley residents Brandon White and Jeff Graves celebrated the Fourth of July weekend with victories at East Lincoln Speedway. McMahon defeated Maiden’s Pechi Fioramanti in the Pro 4 race while Concord’s Dennis Kirk finished third. White’s victory came in the Renegades division. Ronnie White and Scott Freeman, both of Charlotte, Eric Thompson of Midland and David Lucas of Stanley rounded out the top five, respectively, in the renegades feature. In the limited sportsman feature, Graves defeated Tim Sigmon of Denver, N.C. Mt. Holly’s Bundy Stowe placed third and Stanley’s Adam Vandiver took fourth.
Deb Williams is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Deb? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.