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BMW’s Sims Takes First Pole of 2019-20 Season

BMW i Andretti driver Alexander Sims takes pole for round one at Diriyah…

Photo: Formula E

Alexander Sims scored his second career ABB FIA Formula E Championship pole position in qualifying for the first race of the 2019-20 season in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.

The BMW i Andretti Motorsport driver posted a time of 1:14.563 in the top-six shootout after emerging from his preliminary group in third position.

Sims beat Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team’s Stoffel Vandoorne to the front spot on the grid for Friday’s contest, while Vandoorne’s teammate Nyck de Vries qualified third.

Vandoorne came up 0.276 seconds short of ousting Sims, who secured back-to-back Formula E poles after he topped qualifying for the 2018-19 New York City season finale.

Fourth in Super Pole was ROKiT Venturi Racing’s Edoardo Mortara, who like Sims and Vandoorne also graduated from group three.

The third row of the grid is set to be occupied by Sam Bird who led the group stages for Envision Virgin, and Mahindra driver Jerome d’Ambrosio.

Bird was the last driver to set a time in the shootout but a mistake in the opening sector prevented the Brit from laying down a time that could challenge Sims at the top.

Both Bird and d’Ambrosio qualified from group two, while de Vries was the only graduate from the fourth and final group to make Super Pole on his Formula E debut.

Porsche qualified seventh on the grid for its maiden Formula E race courtesy of Andre Lotterer’s group stage time set during the second preliminary batch.

The highest-placed qualifier from group one was defending champion Jean-Eric Vergne who will line up 11th on the 24-car grid for DS Techeetah.

Slippery track conditions owing to an overlay of dust made life difficult for the first batch which also included Robin Frijns, Sebastien Buemi, Mitch Evans, Lucas di Grassi and Antonio Felix da Costa.

Vergne’s teammate da Costa struggled in particular after electing to take his full power lap early, which cost the Portuguese driver two-and-a-half seconds to the group pace.

Da Costa, who won last year’s season opener in Diriyah, will start Friday’s race from 21st position.

Neither James Calado nor Nico Mueller managed to set a competitive time in the fourth group after both drivers struck the outside wall at the long Turn 16 right-hander before coming to a rest at the side of the track next to each other.

The first race of the 2019-20 season gets underway at 3:04 pm. local time (7:04 a.m. ET; 12:04 p.m. UK).

RESULTS: Super Pole
RESULTS: Qualifying Groups

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365 and e-racing365, with a focus on the FIA World Endurance Championship and various electric racing series.

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