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Supercharged, Formula E Race; Britain and Iran in a Near War Incident; New Orleans to Brace More Rain; Immigrant Found Dead in Central Mexico; China Being Called Out by Countries; Alex Acosta Refused to Step Down; Couples Sued Fertility Clinic Over Botched IVF; Bitter Truth About Sweeteners. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired July 11, 2019 - 03:00   ET



PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR: Tensions escalate between the U.K. and Iran. An incident at sea just hours after Iran's president warns Britain there would be consequences for the detention of an Iranian oil tanker.

Crisis at the U.S. southern border, a migrant mother gives emotional testimony. The U.S. lawmakers have (AUDIO GAP) treatment of children at detention centers.

And, later bracing for a hurricane. I slow-moving storm takes aim at the U.S. Gulf Coast, an area that's already flooded, and that's even before the storm hits.

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from around the world. I'm Paula Newton. And this is CNN newsroom.

It appears Iran maybe trying to make good on its threat to retaliate for the seizure of one of its tanker ships. The U.K. defense ministry says three Iranian gunboats tried but failed to detain a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz. A nearby British warship quickly intervened, guns drawn, and the Iranians left.

Iranian media report the country's Revolutionary Guard denies trying to stop the ship. And we will get some analysis on that in a minute.

Our Sam Kiley joins us now from Abu Dhabi. Fred Pleitgen is in Moscow. Sam, first to you, and you have more detail on exactly how dramatic and in fact, dangerous this whole encounter was.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this was a moment, yes, another moment in the Gulf or the Strait of Hormuz, where things came close to war. The British ship HMS Montrose intervened to prevent, according to defense officials in London, three gunboats from Iran from attempting to divert the B.P. owned British heritage oil tanker, an oil supertanker.

It wasn't carrying any fuel because it had already elected not to take on fuel from Basrah in Iraq, but rather to get out of the area due to the raised tensions between the two countries. But when the Montrose intervened, it issued verbal warnings and to

back those verbal warnings up, we understand that sailors were deployed on deck to man 7.6 machine guns and a 30-millimeter automated cannon was also activated as a show of force, and very actively the Iranians return to their own waters.

And as you say, the Iranians are saying that they did not intervene and did not attempt to seize this vessel. But it all comes of course against the background of the British Royal Marine commando seizing the Grace One, a ship carrying Iranian oil allegedly to Syria in breach of European, and in fact, global sanctions against Syria, not against Iran.

A very awkward time for the British because they are trying to keep Iran on board with the nuclear deal that the Americans walked away from last May and imposed very stringent sanctions, but ironically, the British are trying to help the Iranians bypass through a very complex financial mechanism organized through Europe.

So this all comes at a time when the British are trying to downplay the incident, very reluctantly admitting that guns were drawn and that threats, implicit at least were made to get rid of the Iranian gunboats whilst the United States is in the middle of trying to put together an international coalition to ensure safety of movement for all ships through this increasingly tense area.

NEWTON: And to you now, Fred, we heard, of course from Sam what went on there. We also heard, of course, that the Iranian leadership had said look, there will be retaliation, and yet from the Fars News Agency a little while ago somewhat of a denial from Iran that this ever happened. Help us out. What at work there?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, definitely. I mean, a flat out denial coming from the IRGC, a flat out denial just in the last couple of seconds also coming from Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif, saying that any sort of indication or any sort of information saying that the Iranians have tried to seize this tanker was aimed at fueling tensions in the region.

Now of course, it's unclear whether or not the Iranians really were behind this, what exactly happened in that incident, but right now what we are hearing from the Iranians is very quick, very flat out denial. And it's quite remarkable, actually, Paula, because normally the Revolutionary Guard Corps is not this fast to come out with a denial.

Of course, we know that Iran's foreign minister usually is quite quick to issue denials and issue statements on Twitter but for the Revolutionary Guard to do with this quick is not something that you usually see.

[03:04:57] But I do -- I do think that Sam is absolutely right. I mean, this does come against the massive backdrop of rising tensions between Iran and the United States and its allies.

Now we have this map up right now with the Strait of Hormuz and that really is -- we always have to make clear to our viewers, it's really is the lynchpin of the area where a lot of people think -- things could kick off if they ever do kickoff.

It's an extremely narrow waterway and always at any given time have U.S. forces, U.S. allied forces and Iranian forces, an extremely close proximity, and for those tankers going through there or any other ship going through there, of course that would be the time that those would be very vulnerable.

And if we look at just the past two months, the way things have escalated, you had first of all the incidents with several tankers allegedly being hit by mines in early May, then you had another incident in June.

You had the American drone getting shot down, the U.S. blaming that -- or the U.S. saying that it was flying in international airspace, the Iranian saying that it veered off into their airspace.

You can see how the tensions are rising, and of course, all of this is due to the fact that the main unresolved problem between the U.S. and Iran shows no sign of moving in any sort of direction at this point in time, which is that standoff over the nuclear agreement, which of course the U.S. has left where the U.S. is now saying that the Iranians are violating the agreement.

They say despite the fact that they are not adhering to some of the terms there still within that agreement. But the fundamental issue between the U.S. and Iran seems to be the thing that keeps fueling the tense situation there in the Middle East, and specifically in that area of the Strait of Hormuz, Paula.

NEWTON: Yes. No matter those Iranian denials, things are certainly still tense.

Our thanks there to Fred Pleitgen in Moscow and Sam Kiley from Abu Dhabi.

Now every week seems to bring another horrific story about migrants making the dangerous journey from Central America hoping for a better life in the United States.

In this case, the images are graphic. We will warn you. A Guatemala father and his 10-year-old son found lying along a dirt road in Central Mexico. They paid a smuggler to try and get then to the United States. Instead, they were kidnapped by a Mexican drug cartel.

When their family in the U.S. couldn't pay the $12,000 ransom, the father was killed, the boy had his throat slashed, but he survived. You see him there and is now recovering in hospital.

U.S. Customs and Border officials say they are investigating claims of abuse from migrants at a detention center in Arizona.

CNN's Nick Valencia has the details.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The allegations were first reported by NBC News and include that children in Yuma, Arizona were held not only in poor conditions but also include a report of an alleged sexual assault.

And here is part of what NBC is reporting. They say a 16-year-old Guatemalan boy was said to being in cell and complained about the taste of water and food that he was given along with other migrants.

A 15-year-old girl from Honduras described, quote, "a large, bearded officer putting his hands inside her bra, pulling down her underwear and groping her as part of what was meant to be a routine pat down in front of other immigrants and officers."

And finally, in this report, they say a 17-year-old boy from Honduras said officers would scold, detain children when they would get close to a window, going on to say that they would use an offensive tern in Spanish while they were giving them orders.

Now we did reach out directly to U.S. Customs and Border Protection to respond to these allegations made first -- reported first by NBC. This is what I said. "U.S. Customs and Border Protection treats those in our custody with dignity and respect and provides multiple avenues to report any allegations of misconduct. We take all allegations seriously and investigate all formal complaints."

Now U.S. CBP is defending their actions while the conduct and the manner in which they care for migrants in their custody was brought into question during an oversight hearing on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

In that hearing we heard an emotional plea from Yazmin Juarez, who is an asylum seeking migrant from Central America, who said because of prolonged period detention, her nearly two-year-old daughter died.

Now she did make an emotional plea to committee members saying that she doesn't want this to happen to any other migrants in U.S. custody.

YAZMIN JUAREZ, GUATEMALAN MIGRANT (through translator): My daughter, Maria and I seeking asylum in the United States. We made this journey because we feared for our lives. The trip was dangerous but I was more afraid of what might happen to us if we stayed.

So, we came to the United States, where I hope to build a better, safer life for us. Unfortunately, that did not happen. Instead, I watched my baby girl die slowly and painfully, just a few months before her second birthday.


VALENCIA: Juarez went on to say that the U.S. can and should do better about caring for migrants, especially children who are in their custody.

NEWTON: That was our Nick Valencia here.

Now nearly two dozen countries are calling on China to stop the mass detention ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang province. China claims it so-called training centers are helping to stop Islamic extremism while offering vocational education.

Matt rivers has the details from Beijing.

[03:09:58] MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, for those of us who have been following this story, a new joint statement from the U.N.'s top human rights body might have seem like it was a long time coming.

But in an unprecedented move, nearly half of all member countries that the human rights council produced a joint statement calling out Chinese widely documented abuse of predominately Muslim ethnic minorities in its western region of Xinjiang.

According to Human Rights Watch, 22 countries including Australia, Canada and Japan have signed on to a joint statement that urges China to end what it calls mass arbitrary detention of Muslims and to allow the U.N. high commissioner on human rights and other independent observers meaningful access to the region.

China is also a member of the Human Rights Council.

Now Xinjiang is the place where multiple western governments, the U.N. and outside experts allege that China has detained hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Muslims and other minorities over the last two years in detention centers that, as we have seen firsthand, often look more like prisons.

Xinjiang's ethnic minorities are largely made up of the Turkic speaking Uyghur population have been directly targeted, with critics saying the goal being to wipe out their unique cultural identity which is distinct from the rest of China.

Allegations of brainwashing, torture and abuse inside these centers are rampant. Now China counters, saying that these facilities are voluntary vocational training centers designed to combat extremism.

Beijing argues led to terror attacks in the past and it insist that there is no torture at the camps. Though many in the international community don't believe Beijing when it says things like that, there has been little in the way of concrete action taken against China.

No sanctions, no diplomatic expulsions, and that could be because China is a powerful country that is very sensitive to allegations of human rights abuses. Beijing could easily choose to retaliate economically against any country that takes a stand against what's happening in Xinjiang.

A reason, some critics say, other countries have been fearful to do so. But with the statement, activists say the tide could be turning. Is this the start of a more concerted international effort or will this simply be a statement with no actions that follow? Beijing is likely hoping for the latter.

Matt Rivers, CNN, Beijing.

NEWTON: OK. Ahead here on CNN, the U.S. labor secretary seems to have no regrets about a sweetheart deal he helped arrange for a sex offender Jeffrey Epstein years ago, and that as a new accuser comes forward claiming Epstein raped her.

Plus, heavy flooding hits New Orleans as the U.S. Gulf Coast braces for what could be its first hurricane of the year.


NEWTON: U.S. Labor Secretary Alex Acosta claims he did all he could 11 years ago when he was a U.S. attorney and offered a controversial plea deal to multi-millionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Now, while Acosta defends that decision, pressure still building for him to resign.

CNN's Pam Brown has the latest.


ALEXANDER ACOSTA, U.S. SECRETARY OF LABOR: I absolutely welcome this New York prosecution, it is the absolutely right thing to do.


[03:15:02] PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Embattled Labor Secretary Alex Acosta defending himself this afternoon over a controversial plea deal he oversaw that allowed multi- millionaire Jeffrey Epstein to avoid federal sex crime charges, saying he intervened in the case to give Epstein a stiffer punishment.


ACOSTA: That's what the prosecutors of my office did. They insist that he go to jail and put the world on notice, that he was and is a sexual predator.


BROWN: The 2008 case against Epstein alleges he coerced dozens of young girls, some as young as 14 into having sex with him.


ACOSTA: The Palm Beach State attorney's office was ready to let Epstein walk free, no jail time, nothing. Prosecutors in my former office found this to be completely unacceptable and they became involved.


BROWN: But prosecutors inked a deal letting him avoid a public federal trial, register as a sex offender and serve just 13 months in state prison where he was allowed to leave during the day. Acosta now says he was faced with two difficult options as the U.S. attorney.


ACOSTA: Plead guilty to more serious charges, charges that require jail time, registration and restitution, or we would roll the dice and bring a federal indictment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Standing here today, are you basically saying that you feel that you did everything you could, you got the best deal you could get in and you have no regrets?

ACOSTA: We believe that we proceeded appropriately.


BROWN: CNN confirms Acosta's statement comes after Trump ordered him to explain himself publicly.


ACOSTA: My relationship with the president is outstanding, he has, I think, very publicly made clear that I've got his support.


BROWN: And while the White House is publicly defending Acosta --


KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Why are you talking about Alex Acosta, not Jeffrey Epstein?


BROWN: One of Trump's confidants telling CNN he doesn't believe Acosta will last.


DON LEMON, CNN HOST: You think he'd be gone and you said six weeks or shorter?

CHRISTOPHER RUDDY, CEO, NEWSMAX MEDIA: I think it will be in a relatively quick period, he will be gone.


BROWN: Meantime, Trump is now distancing himself from Epstein, who he once described as "a terrific guy who likes beautiful women as much as I do".


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I knew him like everybody in Palm Beach knew him. I had a falling out with him a long time ago, I don't think I've spoken to him for 15 years. I wasn't a fan.


BROWN: Epstein was also a frequent visitor at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort years ago, but an attorney for the Trump organization tells CNN Trump banned him from the property, although he doesn't remember when or why.

As for Epstein, who was facing new charges in a New York case, another accuser went public today, describing being raped by him as a teenager.


JENNIFER ARAOZ, JEFFREY EPSTEIN'S ACCUSER: Forcefully raped me, knew exactly what he was doing. And I don't think cared. What hurts even more so is that if I wasn't afraid to come forward sooner, then maybe he wouldn't have done it to other girls.


BROWN: Now Secretary Acosta says he would be willing to be interviewed by DOJ officials who were looking into whether there was any professional misconduct by the prosecutors involved in that 2008 plea deal. Even though Acosta says he wouldn't be required to do so and he remained defiant that he did anything wrong.

Pamela Brown, CNN, the White House.

NEWTON: Britain's ambassador to the U.S. has resigned after leaked diplomatic cable showed he called President Trump inept and clumsy.

A source told CNN Kim Darroch made his decision to step down after Boris Johnson, the front runner to become the U.K.'s next prime minister, refused to support him during Tuesday night's leadership debate on live TV.

U.K.'s current Prime Minister Theresa May told parliament she supports Darroch and didn't want him to resign.


She has been campaigning long.

THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Good government depends on public servants being able to give full and frank advice. I want all our public servants to have the confidence to be able to do that. And I hope the house will reflect on the importance of defending our values and principles, particularly when they are under pressure.


NEWTON: Darroch's resignation came after President Trump said the White House would no longer deal with the ambassador.

Police in Greece have opened a homicide investigation after a U.S. scientist died by asphyxiation. Fifty-nine-year-old Suzanne Eaton had been attending a conference earlier this month on the island of Crete. She is believed to have disappeared during a run on July the 2nd.

The body of the biologist was discovered Monday. Police say they are taking comprehensive measures to try and find her killer or killers. A large storm in the Gulf of Mexico has already flooded parts of New

Orleans already, and much more rain is on the way. More than 20 centimeters fell on Wednesday, overwhelming, as you can see there that famous French quarter and other neighborhoods.

[03:20:01] This slow-moving system could become a hurricane, yet, a hurricane by Saturday, state officials have begun shutting more than 90 floodgates to hold back the rising Mississippi River.

More now from the storm from our meteorologist Derek Van Dam. And, Derek, I have to ask you, so we already see flooding in New Orleans, I know that's kind of typical but what will it do now in terms of trying to shut those gates? In terms of really trying to spare the city?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, they are trying to get ahead of the potential storm that is headed their way, at least for parts of the Louisiana Coast, and by shutting those floodgates down, they have the ability to prevent water from moving in certain areas, certain parishes of New Orleans.

But when you receive over an entire months' worth of rain in less than six hours, you're going to have flooding. And on top of that, the Mississippi River which runs through New Orleans is -- has been at or near flood stage for months now.

And in fact, we're coming off one of the wettest 12-month periods across the Mississippi River delta. So, this does not bode well for a city that sits very near sea level, and then put on top of that our impending tropical system that is still yet to form into a tropical storm but we are monitoring it closely as becoming more and more organized as the minutes and hours click on.

We have from the latest from the National Hurricane Center this potential tropical cyclone that is set to strengthen to tropical cyclone status here by early Thursday morning, and then as we work through the course of the day.

And by Friday, we should see a category one hurricane impacting the gulf coast and that will have, obviously severe ramifications for many locations from flooding to storm surge potential, as well as strong winds.

Here is the latest. We have west of the Mississippi River mouth, we have hurricane watches, tropical storm watches east of the mouth of the Mississippi. By the way, that does not include New Orleans but that does not mean that we are not going to see or feel the effects of the storm system.

In fact, the National Hurricane Center believes one to two meters of storm surge could impact some of the low-lying areas surrounding the greater New Orleans region, right along the coastline.

And if you look at the differences between the latest computer models, which I've just updated, American versus the European model, you can see kind of an earlier onset of a storm system and a hurricane, and by the way, a further eastward track which does not bode well for New Orleans as well.

So, what do you expect from all of this? Well, a hurricane-strength storm to develop in the gulf by Friday morning, dangerous storm surge potential as the storm system makes landfall by Saturday morning.

And then, by the way, this is not only a coastal flood throughout, this is an inland flood threat because we could see over 500 millimeters of rainfall move across the Mississippi River. So, this is not only a concern for those coastal regions, we need to be monitoring the storm system if you live far inland towards Baton Rouge, for instance.

Back to you, Paula.

NEWTON: Yes. And continue monitoring it. I know you will be doing that.


NEWTON: Derek, thanks so much. I really appreciate it.

Now, a California fertility clinic is under fire. Two couple claims their invitro procedures were botched. And a woman who wound up giving birth to babies that weren't hers.

Plus, what a new study says about drinking even small amounts of sugary and their risk of cancer.


NEWTON: For women struggling to become pregnant, the lawsuit against the Los Angeles fertility clinic are really the stuff of nightmares here.

A couple in California says a botched in vitro fertilization lead to their son being born to a woman in New York. Anni Manukyan's son was six weeks old when she got to see him for the very first time.


ANNI MANUKYAN, MOTHER: It was so many emotions running through my head, like, happiness, sadness that that was the first time. Who wants to meet their child in the lobby of a hotel? It was just, it was heartbreaking. It was terrible.


NEWTON: Now our Nick Watt has more on exactly what happened in this horrible mix up.

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This couple from Glendale, California, Anni and Ashot Manukyan they say they are going public because they do not want anybody ever to go through what they have been through.

Now, according to complaints filed in courts in New York and L.A., is what they say happened. August 20th of last year, Anni Manukyan went to the child fertility clinic to have two embryos implanted, so did another mother from New York.

One of Anni Manukyan's embryos and another embryo from another mother were implanted in the New York mother by mistake. March 31st, she was expecting to give birth to two baby girls. She gave birth to two boys. And DNA test proved that they were not her children.

She raised a red flag. She and her husband are both Korean-American, and apparently the two baby boys did not look Korean-American. That was the first sign of trouble.

Now, the child fertility clinic is being sued by the New York couple and the Manukyans from Glendale. We of course reached out to the clinic but no comment from them.

NEWTON: Our Nick Watt there.

Now, yes, there is more bad news for fans of sugary drinks like soda and fruit juice. Listen up, a new study has been linking even small amounts, a small glass of a sugary drink per day, to an 18 percent increase overall in cancer risk and a 22 percent increase in risk of breast cancer.

Researchers looked at more than 100,000 French adults believed author of the study, says the findings add to research that shows reducing sweetened beverages is beneficial to, you know, that healthier lifestyle we all want.

The American Beverage Association has not yet responded to CNN's request for comment, and of course we still have so many more questions. Does that mean the sugar in my coffee is also a problem? We need to talk about diet drinks there, lots more questions. The story will continue to follow.

Thanks for joining us here at CNN. I'm Paula Newton. Super Charge is up next. But first, I'll be right back with a check of your headlines. You're watching CNN.



PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, I'm Paula Newton and this is CNN News Now. Iran allegedly tried to detain a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf Wednesday. The U.K. defense ministry says three Iranian gunboats confronted the tankers as it sailed into the Strait of Hormuz, but backed off when a British warship arrived on scene. Iran's revolutionary guard denies it tried to stop the ship.

Congress is hearing emotional testimony about the migrant crisis at the U.S. border with Mexico. A Guatemala woman blamed a lack of medical care at a detention center for her daughter's death after they were released. Volunteer doctors are pleading for access to those facilities.

The U.S. labor secretary is defending how his former office prosecuted multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein for sex crimes in 2008. Alex Acosta says he secured the best deal he could, but admits the terms look lenient now that time has passed. Acosta is resisting calls to resign and believes he still has the support President Trump.

The U.S. Gulf Coast is preparing for what could be its first hurricane of the year. Heavy rain has already overwhelmed parts of New Orleans and much more rain is on the way.

That is your CNN News now. Supercharged is next. You are watching CNN. The world's news leader.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Supercharged in association with DHL.

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN ANCHOR: This was capital of Bern is a brand new venue for zero emission motorsport and in just a few days' time, this stunning UNESCO world heritage site will be transformed into a racetrack for play host to round 11 at the ABB Formula E championship.

So far, the championship has spent through the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and Asia. Bern is the last of European stops before heading to New York for the season ending finale.

And it is all to play for with three races left to go. One here in Bern and then two in New York. Mathematically, there are still 16 drivers in with a chance of claiming that season ending crown. One is reigning champion Jean-Eric Vergne who tops the driver leader board, he cannot rest on his laurels. Six points behind him is Formula E veteran Lucas Di Grassi. And the Audi driver is not want to shy away from a championship battle, a Formula E heavyweight he won the title in 2017, and holds the sports record for most podium finishes in its five season history.

I'm catching up with him a few miles outside of Bern to visit another kind of record breaking heavyweight.

So, we are not do anything by halves, have you ever seen an electric vehicle like this?

LUCAS DI GRASSI, FORMULA E CAR RACER: It is huge. I was told it is the biggest in the world. It is really, really amazing.

DAVIES: This all-electric 110 ton dump truck delivers rock from a mountainside quarry to a cement factory in (inaudible). Built in Switzerland, it has the same storage capacity of about seven Tesla S types.

How does it compare to your Formula E car?

DI GRASSI: I understand it has 10 times the battery capacity and three times the power, so three Formula E cars have the same power of this and I can tell you I just saw the motor and it is huge, it is super impressive.

DAVIES: It is amazing on the hills. Like all electric vehicles, this truck can harness power from braking known as regenerative breaking, when the driver hits the brake pads, it puts the electric motor into reverse, electricity is release and it could be stored and put back into the battery. The heavier the load, the stronger the brakes and the more electricity can be recovered.

[03:35:09] DI GRASSI: This is like pure magic, isn't it? The real world (inaudible) making cheaper, making for efficient and greener. So you saving 50 tons of fuel per machine for real.

Was supercool to use, we went out of here, we have about 90 percent, went all the way up to the top, we ran at about 80 percent battery and then he loaded up, and on the way back we recovered 80 percent. So finished at 88. That's pretty cool.

DAVIES: Are you going to be disappointed the next time you get in your Formula E car.

DI GRASSI: No, actually it has a lever, which is the same as the (inaudible) on my Formula E car. So, I'm super excited about this, actually the same technology.

DAVIES: Di Grassi will be hoping to pick that technology against his main rivals to the Formula E title, Jean-Eric Vergne for a team to Techeetah.

How is it going to pan out? Do you see it as a head to head battle between yourself and Jean-Eric Vergne? Let's be honest about it.

DI GRASSI: No, I don't think so yet, let's see how this weekend goes on, but of course Jean is a great driver, he will be there and I will try to beat him as well, as I was trying to beat everybody else.

DAVIES: While Lucas encounters the world's largest electric vehicle, the Techeetah team is facing a different kind of beast. The big cat sanctuary in the U.K. is home to over 50 cats, including lions, leopards and cheetahs. The sanctuary provides welfare for its cats and works on various conservation projects.


DAVIES: And that is where a team Techeetah come in with a sponsorship program and awareness building for the cheetah's plight.

JEAN-ERIC VERGNE, FORMULA E CAR RACER, TECHEETAH TEAM: My car is name Sakim and it's actually him. There he is, he reacted.

DAVIES: Techeetah currently holds the top spot in the team championship and Vergne and lost to a rank first and 3rd in the driver standings. The reigning champion Vergne is looking to become the first driver to win two championships in Formula E.

VERGNE: Winning once does mean you are going to win the next one especially with all of the changes that we have. We see a margin to improve and that is what really matters.

DAVIES: And while Lucas Di Grassi is a potential threat, so too of his own teammate, but the pair don't let that affect a great friendship.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one wants to try to kill each other, beat each other, or need that for their ego. If he wins, great, so, it means, I need to work harder, you know, so, it very simple.

There is no reason to be enemies, there is no reason to hide anything. We are good friends outside the track, and we know what we put on the helmet, you know, we are kind of warriors, but we have a lot of respect between each other. So, we have seen his cat, he name was Kin and that is mine, Bajhame, it looks very fast.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He likes to race.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You make them race?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That didn't happen unless they feel it is worth their while.


DAVIES: Later in the show, the Techeetah boys and the rest of the Formula E driver's race on the streets of Bern and we find out which cats clause are sharpest.


DAVIES: Welcome back to supercharged, where you find us on Switzerland ahead of the APP Formula E race in here in Bern. And while this might be a city new to electric racing, it certainly isn't new to chocolate. So why not combine the two.

Casa Nobile was awarded Switzerland's best chocolatier by the 2018 Choco guide. They let me pull the mold for one of their gold standard chocolates.

This is chocolate heaven. I wonder what this makes.


DAVIES: And then turn.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now this side, can, put it together.



DAVIES: What do we think?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then you close it, in the fridge.

DAVIES: I'm quite impressed. I was worried. OK. Are you ready? Big moment. The icing on the cake. I love it. It is fantastic. But let's just hope the action on the track is as tasty as the chocolate.

One of the drivers hoping for the sweet smell of success this weekend is Mitch Evans. Ahead of the race, he is 6th in the standings, 33 points behind last year's winner and current leader Jean-Eric Vergne. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Evans is in the lead of the race!

DAVIES: Mitch Evans brought Jaguar its first major win in motorsports since 1991 on the streets of Rome in April.

MITCH EVANS, JAGUAR FORMULA E RACER: It is an amazing, amazing feeling. Great achievement, everyone involved since day one of the project, and yes I was there, a sense of relief, but I just felt so beautiful.

DAVIES: How often since then have you been talking about it? Have you used it as motivation?

EVANS: Yes, quite a bit.

DAVIES: I've got the pictures on your wall?

EVANS: Everywhere, yes. I'm waiting for my trophy. So we can have at my apartment.

DAVIES: Are you at this point only think about the races left the season or have you started thinking about next year and how you turn sixth place in the standings into competing with the big boys at the top?

EVANS: A bit of both to be honest, but I'm still in a great position in season five to finish off well, so, you know, it has been a huge focus on Bern and also in New York so there are still plenty of points up for grabs, you know, I can almost probably win the championship, I can also probably finished 13th, 14th, so you have to be completely focused, but it is still every opportunity to finish within the top three of the championship, and I'm here to win.

DAVIES: So how do you approach Bern?

EVANS: We might have driven it for real life, it has been all in the simulator which looks extremely difficult.

DAVIES: So you've seen the track from the sim? How about view from the surf board?

EVANS: Yes, I mean, surfing in Switzerland is not really go hand in hand, does it?

DAVIES: While surfing isn't something you would expect to do in a landlocked country, I have organized for Mitch to get a lesson from one of Bern's bungee surfers who ride the current of the river holding on to a stretchy cord.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back in New Zealand where we surf in the sea. Obviously the sea is quite far away from here, so this is quite particular just for Bern or do other parts of Switzerland have a similar setup?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a main thing from Bern, it was founded here like, 100 years ago, but now in the moment they have it in Zurek, they also got like in Germany, Austria, Italy, just small groups who surf.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the originals from here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes it is from Bern, very local thing.


[03:45:00] DAVIES: Driving a Formula E car might be tricky, but standing up on a surf board in the middle of a river poses a real challenge. After several attempts, Mitch eventually proved his mettle and makes his stand, all be it briefly.


EVANS: How is that?

DAVIES: I was impressed.

EVANS: Really.

DAVIES: What did you think?

EVANS: It felt great. I mean, it is extremely difficult, it's probably the hardest water sport that I have ever done, but if you get up top really cool.

DAVIES: What do you reckon? Professional opinion?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As a professional, he was pretty good.

DAVIES: Many, thank you so much. Mitch, thank you. You will be making a few waves on Saturday as well.

EVANS: That would be great.

DAVIES: For a closer look at the newly built track that Mitch and his electric rivals will race around on Saturday, here is Dario Franchitti, Formula E commentator.


DARIO FRANCHITTI, FORMULA E COMMENTATOR: Welcome to Formula E from Bern's Switzerland. Let's take a lap on this brand-new 2.75 kilometers 14 term track. Turn one is a cracker, the bone hill breaking zone, the drivers cross the cone in the road, they have to deal with all these bumps, surface changes, and then it's an incredibly tight left-hand hairpin, down a steep hill on to turn two.

Turn two is a fast left-hand kink, but that is not what makes it interesting. Look at this elevation shape. It is like being at the top of a bobsled run. The downhill sweeps continues in a beautiful section. The drivers will be focused on positioning the car for the tricky breaking zone of turn three, which would be the best opportunity to regenerate energy into the battery.

The climb up fast the (inaudible), will be tough on the car's power. And halfway up the hill on turn five, I am (inaudible), but the good news is, at the top of this hill, turn six awaits. And turn six is fast, it's blind, and it goes on and on and on. Full commitment will be needed from the drivers here as he continuously turn in an elevation.

Broken tarmac and multiple surface changes to contend with from the strips, the crown in the road is quite extreme too. There is a long run up the (inaudible), and then a break zone as you head back downhill into the combination of corners 12, 13, and 14, making it difficult end to and already challenging lap.


DAVIES: Join us in a few moments when I get a taste of the challenges of this track for myself.


DAVIES: Welcome back to supercharge. Here at the APP Formula E race in the Swiss capital of Bern, we are gearing up for race 11 of the all-electric championship. Twenty two drivers from 11 teams are preparing to battle it out in the one day format. We have already had two practice sessions and ahead of the 45 minute race. Next up, it is qualifying.

Shortwave are sent to the paddock when Lucas Di Grassi suffers a huge dent in his campaign. Currently second to the standings, the 2017 champion qualifies 19th.

[03:50:03] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eight tenths of a second, wow! That is not a strong place to be.

DAVIES: The Brazilian will need a small miracle to remain in title contention now, especially as championship leader Jean-Eric Vergne takes poll position.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This gives Jean-Eric Vergne a ginormous opportunity to step his authority on this championship.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an open goal for him.

DAVIES: Jean-Eric Vergne has given himself a real chance of strengthening that grip on the top of the championship, but ahead of the big showdown. I got a chance to go for a spin with the man who makes all of this happen, Formula E chairman, Alejandro Agag. Hello, let's, go show me how this track is done! This is very exciting.

ALEJANDRO AGAG, FORMULA E CHAIRMAN: It is. This is in the middle of the city and this is Bern. Normally, people go here 30 an hour. Were gonna go 200.

DAVIES: Before we let the safety car go at full throttle, it is time for a conversation at a more laterally pace.

AGAG: Jean-Eric Vergne I think is really making a big step for the championship today. DAVIES: There is a lot being made this season about the

unpredictability. Is it good for the sport or not?

AGAG: I think that is great for the sport. If 74 guys winning races, I think is great, you need to have heroes also, you need to have winners, but again, that guy needs to fight, and if he is fighting against eight other people, I think it was great.

DAVIES: We have a new calendar to announce next season.

AGAG: Next season, yes.

DAVIES: New races, how exciting is it for the sports to have a look at that?

AGAG: Germany is our home. It was not easy to find a location in London, or we don't create (inaudible), then we can do something really big because London is a huge event. I mean, first race, I mean, indoor and outdoor. So if it rains, you have wet outside and dry inside. The London race is going to be really great.

DAVIES: And you got Seoul is a new one for next season.

AGAG: Absolutely. So that one is great, South Korea, you know, is a great market for electric cars in the future. It has great car manufacturers, it was missing in our map and we are so happy that we are going to be able to go to South Korea to do this race.

DAVIES: You talked about the issues with getting the venues where you are not creating disruption. Is there anything else that can be done to placate cities, areas, residents who do not necessarily want it to happen?

AGAG: It's tricky. We still in business in Bern here, that some of the residents were protesting, if I was the guy leaving in that house, maybe I would protest too, because I cannot come over to my house.

The problem is also (inaudible), you know in Monaco, they have been doing it for 70 years or 80 years, so nobody complains. Yesterday, there were really a few, maybe 20, 30, 50, people a hundred people, I don't know complaining, today we have 15,000 people enjoying, so that always puts things in perspective.

DAVIES: Has you're driving improved once you have been involved with Formula E?

DAVIES: You will be the judge of that.

DAVIES: I suppose then this is the moment were you show me how this is really done. Let's do it.

AGAG: Let's do this.


DAVIES: Awesome. Alejandro, thank you. AGAG: Pleasure.

DAVIES: Time has changed though to see how the pros do it right on the race.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All five lights are on. And we go green in Bern, good start from Bernie, he should be able to hold the lead. Sam berg got an excellent start into the outside, there goes (inaudible), from the inside, can he get pass Gibbins, and up to the second place, here they come into the first chicane. Now, Evans (inaudible), trying get the wall and facing backwards.

DAVIES: No soon as racing begun then it comes to a crashing halt at this very first corner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got a traffic jam.

DAVIES: After a disastrous qualifying, could this be the miracle that Di Grassi was waiting for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Di Grassi up to the eight place.

DAVIES: The race organizers have other plans and ruled that the race must restart with all of the cars in the original grid order. Being booted back to the bottom of the pack is a bitter blow for the championship hopeful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is completely wrong.

DAVIES: He is supported by fellow Brazilian Felipe Massa who also made ground during the pile up.

[03:55:02] Arguments aside, the race restarts after a 40 minute red flag period.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jean-Eric Vergne goes for it, restart the race and are underway again in Bern.

DAVIES: Jean-Eric Vergne leads the front with Di Grassi bringing up the rear. Vergne dominance constantly under pressure from (inaudible) a superstar Mitch Evans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sixth tenths quicker on that last lap, has he got him? Not quite enough. Mitch Evans pushing so hard to try and get through.

DAVIES: The New Zealander makes a series of valiant attempts to steal the win from the Frenchman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's right underneath the rear wing of the Techeetah. Just not enough, they will be thinking, was that my opportunity?

DAVIES: But the track is too narrow and too twisty for Evans to pass.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is coming to come up the throttle. On the outside. That is not going to work out either.

DAVIES: Rain soaks the course during the final two laps.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is pouring down. Temperature dropping, winds starting to come in.

They are all out of shape coming down in the three, Vergne covers the inside and (inaudible).

DAVIES: There is Vergne, who takes his third win of the season.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is the checkered flag and there is the win for Jean-Eric Vergne and team Techeetah. What a wonderful win in Bern!

DAVIES: Congratulations. Into the championship, two races to go. Do you feel like you have one hand on that title once again?

VERGNE: I mean, you know, nothing is done in Formula E. Everything changes from one day to another, so to keep working hard and you know, being extra cautious about that. I'm just doing my job not focusing on the others.

DAVIES: I know you are just about to get your trophy. Just before you go, I have something from supercharged and Switzerland, handmade by me this week.

VERGNE: I don't believe you, but thank you so much.

DAVIES: I actually did, I really did make it.

VERGNE: OK, so do it every race I win.

Congratulations, you enjoy it.

VERGNE: I'm going to eat it now.

DAVIES: See you. Vergne's win allows him to open up a commanding lead of 32 points over Lucas Di Grassi. Well there is still a maximum 58 points available at the doubleheader New York finale, the championship looks all the more likely to go his way now. The podium is an emotional one for Sebastian (inaudible), who's 3rd place, pleases all the home supporters including his own son. Also for Mitch Evans who is riding a wave of success following his surf lesson in Bern.

For the hero of the day and quite possibly the season, Jean-Eric Vergne for team Techeetah. Join us next time on supercharged on the streets of New York where the all-electric championship will be decided.