Cape Town E-Prix: Nick Cassidy Tops Rapid Free Practice Two

Nick Cassidy started race day at the inaugural Cape Town E-Prix in sublime fashion, after topping Free Practice Two by three-tenths of a second from Edoardo Mortara, perhaps making the Envision Racing driver the favourite to claim pole at the fifth round of the 2022/23 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.

As the second session got underway in Cape Town, early morning clouds were present over the fastest street circuit on the calendar, as all twenty-two drivers ventured on to the circuit to gather as much data as possible before qualifying. Given that it was the 9am local time at the track, the air and surface temperatures were significantly lower than they will be come the race this afternoon.

The drivers certainly got about their business very quickly during free practice two, with the times having been just over a second slower than Mortara’s leading time from Friday afternoon within the opening five minutes. Mortara’s fastest time from Friday was a 1:09.700, a time that was more likely than not going to be beaten before the end of the session.

Mortara’s Friday time was blitzed much earlier than expected, as his team-mate Maximilian Günther hit the top as the session moved into its final twenty minutes, after posting a very impressive 1:09.305. Behind the German after the first ten minutes of the session were reigning World Champion Stoffel Vandoorne, and fellow compatriot André Lotterer, whilst local driver Kelvin van der Linde sat in fourth.

It was clear that the teams were keen to make up from the disrupted session that occurred yesterday, with very fast times having been set much earlier than usual for free practice two. Times continued to tumble though, as René Rast moved to first as the session hit its halfway point, thanks to setting a 1:09.092, two-tenths faster than Günther’s time. Rast was soon joined at the top by team-mate Jake Hughes, who moved to second after going just under two-tenths slower than the German.

Second quickly became third for Hughes, as fellow rookie Sacha Fenestraz jumped to the top and almost entered the 1:08s, but missed out by +0.022s. It meant that as the session entered its final ten minutes it was a Nissan powertrain one-two-three, suggesting that the circuit suits the Japanese manufacturer’s design very nicely. The leading trio were suddenly dropped a place each, though, as Sam Bird set the first 1:08 of the weekend, after setting an astonishing 1:08.550, almost half a second faster than Fenestraz.

As the clock ticked into the final five minutes, Bird was joined at the top by team-mate Mitch Evans, who went just over a tenth slower than the British driver. Dan Ticktum, though, suddenly jumped to the top after posting a 1:08.425, before his time was narrowly beaten by Friday’s fastest driver Mortara, as the session entered its final minute.

Mortara certainly has pace this weekend, but he could do nothing to stop Cassidy from setting the fastest time of the session right at the end, with the New Zealander having come within touching distance of a 1:07. Cassidy set a 1:08.118 to top the second session of the weekend by three-tenths from Mortara, with Ticktum in third and the Jaguar TCS Racing duo in fourth and fifth. Elsewhere, championship leader Pascal Wehrlein ended the session in ninth, whilst his closest rival Jake Dennis was a worrying twentieth.

The cars will be seen on-track next for qualifying in just under two hours, with it getting underway at 11:40am local time (+2 GMT).

Cape Town E-Prix Round 5: Free Practice Two Results

1 37 Nick Cassidy NZL Envision Racing 1:08.118
2 48 Edoardo Mortara CHE Maserati MSG Racing +0.307
3 33 Dan Ticktum GBR NIO 333 Racing +0.328
4 9 Mitch Evans NZL Jaguar TCS Racing +0.354
5 10 Sam Bird GBR Jaguar TCS Racing +0.432
6 1 Stoffel Vandoorne BEL DS Penske +0.550
7 13 António Félix da Costa POR TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team +0.603
8 7 Maximilian Günther GER Maserati MSG Racing +0.793
9 94 Pascal Wehrlein GER TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team +0.805
10 23 Sacha Fenestraz FRA Nissan Formula E Team +0.904
11 25 Jean-Éric Vergne FRA DS Penske +0.933
12 58 René Rast GER NEOM McLaren Formula E Team +0.974
13 36 André Lotterer GER Avalanche Andretti Formula E +1.101
14 5 Jake Hughes GBR NEOM McLaren Formula E Team +1.144
15 3 Sérgio Sette Câmara BRZ NIO 333 Racing +1.328
16 16 Sébastian Buemi CHE Envision Racing +1.424
17 17 Norman Nato FRA Nissan Formula E Team +1.460
18 8 Oliver Rowland GBR Mahindra Racing +1.477
19 4 Kelvin van der Linde ZAF ABT CUPRA Formula E Team +1.681
20 27 Jake Dennis GBR Avalanche Andretti Formula E +1.736
21 51 Nico Mueller CHE ABT CUPRA Formula E Team +1.937
22 11 Lucas di Grassi BRZ Mahindra Racing +2.302