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Bird takes Marrakesh pole despite car damage

Sam Bird took pole for the first Formula E race of 2019 in Marrakesh after topping Super Pole – despite damage to the rear end of his car following a collision in the pits earlier on.

The British driver put in a laptime of 1:17.489 in his Envision Virgin Racing car to take pole, just 0.046 seconds ahead of DS Techeetah’s Jean-Eric Vergne.

Rounding out the Super Pole runners were Antonio Felix da Costa (BMW i Andretti Motorsport) in third, Sebastien Buemi (Nissan e.dams) in fourth, da Costa’s Andretti team-mate Alexander Sims who will start fifth on the grid, and Mitch Evans (Jaguar Racing) who had a massive lockup on his lap and was sixth quickest.

Of course, before Super Pole was the customary group stage.

The first group featured several heavy-hitters, with da Costa, Vergne, his DS Techeetah team-mate Andre Lotterer, Evans and Jerome d’Ambrosio (Dragon) all hitting the track.

Evans topped the standings at first, before being deposed by  Vergne who put in a 1:18.042.

At the end of the session, it was Ad Diriyah race winner da Costa who topped the timesheets as he set a time of 1:17.950 – the only driver in the first group to dip into the 1:17s.

Following da Costa were Vergne, Evans, d’Ambrosio and Lotterer – with the latter making a mistake on his quick lap, which cost him time as he finished 1.683 seconds off da Costa’s time.

In the second group were Buemi, his Nissan e.dams team-mate Oliver Rowland, Daniel Abt, Lucas di Grassi (both Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler) and Jaguar’s Nelson Piquet Jr.

It was season 2 champion Buemi who topped the session, putting in a 1:17.906 to go first overall ahead of da Costa.

Piquet went fifth, di Grassi seventh, Rowland eighth and Abt ninth.

Going out in group three were Bird, Robin Frijns (both Envision Virgin Racing), Oliver Turvey, Tom Dillmann (both NIO), Stoffel Vandoorne (HWA Racelab) and Maximilian Guenther (Dragon).

Both Envision Virgin Racing drivers Bird and Frijns were visibly throwing their purple cars across the track, with Bird going first overall with a 1:17.851 but his Dutch teammate only managing 1:18.200 to go sixth.

Meanwhile, Turvey could only manage 11th and Dillmann 13th as NIO had a disappointing session, while Vandoorne’s car stopped on track and Guenther hit the wall to put them towards the back of the grid.

Strangely, between the third and fourth groups going out on track, there was a pitlane collision between Dillmann’s NIO car and the Envision Virgin machines of Bird and Frijns – causing the aforementioned rear end damage on Bird’s car.

Finally, group four hit the track; consisting of Jose Maria Lopez (Dragon), Gary Paffett (HWA Racelab), Felipe Massa, Edoardo Mortara (both Venturi), Sims, and – making his Formula E qualifying debut – Mahindra’s Pascal Wehrlein.

Sims went third overall with a 1:17.935, knocking team-mate da Costa down to P4, while Wehrlein put in a brilliant lap to go seventh and just miss out on Super Pole.

The race will take place at 4pm local time. The previous editions, had Buemi and Rosenqvist as winners, with the Brit taking a podium in each of them. 

Super Pole:

3Antonio FelixDA COSTA0.137

Group Classification:

4Antonio FelixDA COSTA0.099
11LucasDI GRASSI0.744
13José MariaLOPEZ0.761

Laurence Thorn

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