Bird gets stunning pole despite car damage

by Scott Douglas

Sam Bird put in one of the most impressive laps of his career as he took pole for the Marrakesh ePrix despite having a damaged car.

Bird had a chunk of the diffuser of his Envision Virgin Racing car taken off after NIO’s Tom Dillmann collided with Bird’s team-mate Robin Frijns in the pitlane, with Frijns subsequently running into the back of Bird’s car.

Bird had already qualified for the super pole after setting the fastest lap in the first phase, but was unable to repair his car ahead of his shootout lap under parc ferme rules.

It didn’t matter however as he put in a tremendous lap to take pole from the Techeetah of Jean-Eric Vergne by just under five-hundredths of a second.

He was followed by championship leader Antonio Felix da Costa, but the BMW i Andretti driver was punished by the stewards for going over the permitted maximum power output on his out and in laps, so will get a three place grid penalty.

It means Sebastien Buemi will move up to third as last year’s pole setter showed decent pace in his Nissan e.dams car, with da Costa’s team-mate Alexander Sims starting in fourth after a scrappy final lap.

It was a cleaner lap than Mitch Evans had however after he locked up his front tyres going into the tricky turn seven and was unable to make the corner – a disappointing error for the New Zealander after he had been fastest in practice.

Behind him Pascal Wehrlein impressed on his Formula E debut by only just missing out on super pole and out-qualifying his team-mate Jerome d’Ambrosio by three positions to start in seventh.

Frijns qualified in eighth meanwhile with the other Panasonic Jaguar Racing of Nelson Piquet Jr in ninth.

Further down it was a disappointing session for HWA Racelab who suffered drop offs in power output which put drivers Gary Paffett and Stoffel Vandoorne down in nineteenth and twenty-second respectively.

And Andre Lotterer had a dreadful second sector on his fast lap to finish way down in twentieth position, with a huge task on his hands if he’s to catch up with team-mate Vergne.

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