Evans claims fourth win in Rome to close in on title lead, multiple drivers involved in huge crash

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Jake Hughes missed the race after a heavy crash during qualifying meant NEOM McLaren couldn’t fix his car in time for the main event on Saturday afternoon.

Although Mitch Evans got away well, Sam Bird took the lead into the first corner as Jaguar kept their 1-2.

Sebastien Buemi was getting it from all sides on the first lap. Following close racing with Rene Rast that saw him lose two positions, the Maserati of Mortara then divebombed him at turn 7, and the former series champion fell to P9.

Disaster struck for Pascal Wehrlein as he got caught up in that. Günther checked up to avoid the skirmish at turn 7 and the Porsche driver hit his fellow German and damaged his wing. He had to pit and dropped to the back.

Championship contenders Jake Dennis and Nick Cassidy both had good starts to move into P5 and P6.

A Safety Car was deployed on lap 3 as Andre Lotterer crashed and broke his right front suspension. The veteran reported something broke on the car.

Bird led Evans, Fenestraz, Rast, Dennis, Cassidy, Günther, Buemi, Nato and Da Costa as the race resumed.

Jaguar swapped positions at turn 7 on lap 5 as Mitch Evans took his turn at the front to help Bird with his energy consumption.

On laps 6 and 7, Fenestraz and Rast repeated the trick of Evans to take 2nd and 3rd respectively.

Da Costa also made a lovely down the inside at the same corner on NATO to take 9th.

Out front, Mitch Evans took his first attack mode on lap 7 and dropped behind the Nissan of Fenestraz.

For the second time in the race, Mortara’s late lunge cost himself and the driver he was trying to pass places. He couldn’t get the car fully stopped into turn 7 and that allowed Vergne and Vandoorne to sweep on through.

A red flag was thrown on lap 9 as a huge accident occurred.

The Jaguar of Sam Bird lost his car at the incredibly bumpy turn 6 and hit the wall, leaving him in the middle of the road.

With others coming around a blind corner and unable to see the Brit, Buemi and Da Costa initially clipped him and terminally damaged their cars.

The Swiss driver was fortunate not to flip as he connected with the Jaguar at high speed and ended up on his side briefly. Da Costa also found himself under the Nissan for a few moments.

Moments later, Mortara ran into the side of Bird’s Jaguar at speed. Other cars also clipped the Jaguar or walls trying to avoid the carnage that ensued.

Thankfully everyone could walk away unharmed as the safety of the cars proved their worth once again.

Bird, Buemi, Da Costa, Mortara, Di Grassi and Frijns all retired because of various levels of damage to their cars.

The DS Penske of Stoffel Vandoorne and Porsche of Pascal Wehrlein managed to limp back to the pits in spite of both clipping the wall during that monster accident and had their cars repaired in time.

Such was the extent of the damage to the cars and debris all over the circuit, it took over 40 minutes for the race to restart.

When things got going, the order was Fenestraz, Evans, Rast, Dennis, Cassidy, Günther, Ticktum, Müller, Sette Camara, Merhi, Vergne, Wehrlein, Vandoorne and Nato.

Off the line, championship leader Jake Dennis got his way past the McLaren of Rene Rast for P3 into turn 5.

Günther got aggressive and overtook Dennis into turn 7 for 5th. However, they would swap around again a lap later as the German’s attempt to pass into T4 on Rast failed and got a slow exit.

On lap 12, Nick Cassidy made a lovely love into turn 14 to take 4th from Rast. Unfortunately for McLaren, the three-time DTM pitted at the end of that lap with a problem.

The NIO of Dan Ticktum also boxed as front wing damage from hitting someone destroyed his race.

In attack mode, Vergne took maximum advantage of it and charged up from P12 to P6.

At the front, Jake Dennis made his move on lap 15 as he overtook Evans and Fenestraz to take the lead of the race.

With a lack of energy remaining compared to the cars around him, Fenestraz started to fall through the pack as Evans and Cassidy cruised through.

Dennis led Evans, Cassidy, Fenestraz, Günther, Vergne, Müller, Nato, Sette Camara and Wehrlein with 8 laps to go.

A critical moment happened on lap 20 as Mitch Evans missed attack mode when trying to take it. It was second time lucky as he got it on the next tour.

With 6 laps to go, Dennis led Evans, Cassidy, Günther, Vergne, Müller, Fenestraz, Nato, Sette Camara and Wehrlein.

An angry Jake Dennis appeared on the radio as a lack of energy and taking attack mode earlier than his rivals saw him fall behind Evans, Cassidy and Günther in the space of 2 laps.

Out front, Evans masterfully controlled it to the end to take the maximum 29 points available on Saturday. His fellow Kiwi Nick Cassidy joined him on the podium to reclaim the championship lead, as Max Günther drove a controlled race to take the final podium spot.

Title contender Wehrlein faces a post-race investigation for speeding under the red flags after the big accident.

Photo credit: Jaguar TCS Racing

In spite of enormous pressure from Vergne and Müller, Jake Dennis managed to salvage P4.

Wehrlein recovered from a wild day to see the chequered flag in 7th. Nato, Sette Camara and Fenestraz completed the points scoring positions.