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Valencia E-Prix: Dennis puts BMW on pole on drying track

Jake Dennis snared his rookie Formula E pole position by a massive nine tenths ahead of the second Valencia E-Prix as the BMW Andretti racer dominated a drying qualifying session. 

Jake Dennis, BMW i Andretti Motorsport, BMW iFE.21

Jake Dennis, BMW i Andretti Motorsport, BMW iFE.21

Sam Bagnall / Motorsport Images

The championship newcomer scored his first single-seater pole since an October 2015 run to the front row of the European Formula 3 grid at Hockenheim thanks to his 1m28.548s effort. 

Fastest in all three sectors at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, having also topped the group stages, Dennis claimed top spot by 0.863s ahead of Porsche driver Andre Lotterer in the superpole contest. 

The drying line contributed to a 4.2s lap time swing between group one provisional polesitter Pascal Wehrlein’s early benchmark and the eventual effort from Dennis. 

Mahindra Racing’s Alex Lynn will start second thanks to a five-place grid penalty for Lotterer, despite having snatched provisional pole by close to 0.5s at the time of his final run but fell to an eventual 1.2s off the pace as conditions favoured those last to take to the Tarmac.

The recovering NIO 333 team, which failed to score a point last season, will line up third and fourth as new signing Tom Blomqvist nabbed his best-ever series grid spot and led team mainstay Oliver Turvey. 

Norman Nato, the first driver to run in superpole, felt the effects of the big gain in lap time for his rivals and so ended up 1.941s off the top spot for Venturi Racing in sixth, and will start fifth.

Such was the incredible track evolution between the third and fourth qualifying groups as the track dried, the last six drivers to run on circuit all then locked out the superpole shootout. 

That meant long-time provisional polesitter Jean-Eric Vergne was the first driver to miss out on the top-six battle to finish seventh-fastest in qualifying, the group three DS Techeetah runner having managed to overcome a slight mistake at Turn 8 to initially smash his rivals by close to 0.3s. 

The Nissan e.dams duo of Oliver Rowland and Sebastien Buemi delivered smooth sessions to land the eighth and ninth-fastest times of the drying session as Dragon Penske Autosport driver Sergio Sette Camara converted his lap set in group three into a top-10 start. 

Alexander Sims, Vergne’s nearest group three rival, edged defending champion Antonio Felix da Costa – the long-time Saturday race leader throwing away the better part of three tenths following a mistake in the final sector. 

Porsche racer Pascal Wehrlein had come fastest out of the blocks, setting the benchmark time in group one and holding onto top spot for some time thanks to a flying run through the middle sector that found him almost half a second. But a drying line relegated him to 13th

Envision Virgin Racing driver Nick Cassidy looked like a dead cert for a second pole in as many weeks when he found a mammoth 1.5s seconds from the opening half of the lap. 

But he threw away his group three effort when he ran his car’s outside-front tyre over the painted kerb on the approach to Turn 12, which dragged him off the asphalt at a cost of 2s. 

The championship-leading Mercedes duo of Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries managed only 19th and 20th as Nico Muller fell victim to a bizarre error to line up 22nd

The Dragon Penske Autosport racer caught his glove on the steering wheel through the final sector, which knocked a switch and took his car out of the full-power mode.

Qualifying results:

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