Jake Dennis and Avalanche Andretti went into the Final, looking for his first Julius Baer Pole Position of the season – on home soil to boot. Going up against the Nissan of Sacha Fenestraz was going to be tough, with the rapid French-Argentine a three-time Formula E record breaker as he once again broke the series’ fastest speed over a lap for the third time this season earlier on. In addition, Dennis had lost all three final appearances this season, with this being his third consecutive Final in a row, however he finally managed to bag the all-important P1 spot in Portland.
Explaining that he was behind in the first sector, Dennis said he went full send in the final part of the lap and managed to make it an Andretti pole in front of the home crowd. His boss, Michael Andretti is also at the circuit today, so we’re sure this will get him some brownie points at a super-important event for the famed US motorsport team.
The three points for pole also means Dennis now takes the championship lead from the TAG Heuer Porsche of Pascal Wehrlein. It’s the first time he’s been back on the top spot sine leading the standings for the first two races of Season 9.
First up was the battle of the Nissans, and it was Fenestraz who finished quicker than his teammate Norman Nato. These two are no strangers to a duel against one another, and the last time this happened was in Monaco when the French-Argentinean Fenestraz won, leaving Nato settling for third on the grid.
For the other place on the front row, Dennis took on Rast. Dennis has been unbeaten in the Semis this year, and now makes it four-nil in the third consecutive race that he has reached at least the Semis. In his final lap, Dennis also set the fastest lap of the weekend so far with a 1m08.919s to beat Rast, who starts fourth.
Despite learning that he was starting in the pit lane, as DS PENSKE had installed RFID scanning equipment at pit entry this morning that was able to collect live data from all cars, Vergne still took part in his Quarters duel with Nato. Even though his result wouldn’t impact the penalty the team got for breaking the regulations, Vergne lost to the Nissan either way.
Next up was Fenestraz, who continued the Nissan dominance from the weekend, and beat the Maserati MSG Racing of Maximilian Guenther. It meant the end of a good run of form for the Maserati driver, who up until today had won six consecutive Duels, but was still in the Duels for the fourth race in a row. Guenther starts fifth.
It was the battle of the Jakes again, as Hughes took on Dennis for a spot in the Semi Finals. It was the second consecutive race and fourth time overall these two had battled one another in the Duels. Despite Hughes having the highest win percentage in the history of the Duels at 69%, it was Dennis who impressed in front of the team’s home crowd. Hughes will line up seventh.
Finally, the TAG Heuer Porsche of Antonio Felix da Costa took on Rast. With the Porsche team struggling with qualifying this season and Rast setting the fastest lap in Formula E history yesterday, it was an easy victory for the McLaren driver with da Costa set to start Round 12 from eighth position.
The first of the two groups was always going to provide some excitement. Three of the five championship contenders were in this group, with TAG Heuer Porsche’s Pascal Wehrlein, Envision Racing’s Cassidy and Vergne all looking for a spot in the Duels.
The Nissan of Norman Nato, who went quickest in FP2, had a close call during one of his qualifying laps as he narrowly missed the wall at Turn 1. Plenty of others also found the limits and exceeded them, including Guenther who ran wide on his final lap.
It was a very French-dominated top four, with Fenestraz going quickest with a time of 1m09.860s. The Nissan powertrain has topped all sessions of the weekend so far, and looks very strong around this Portland circuit. DS PENSKEs Jean-Eric Vergne finished in second, although there were reports after the session that there could be an issue for the team which could see him demoted.
FP2’s leading man Nato finished in third and Guenther rounded up the top four despite his trip through the grass at the end of the session. Cassidy finished in sixth, with championship leader Pascal Wehrlein down in 10th which would provisionally put him on the second to last row of the grid.
It was a shock start to Group B qualifying, as Mitch Evans got out of his car and failed to start qualifying. The championship contender, who is celebrating his birthday today, had undergone a new gearbox and battery ahead of the inaugural Portland E-Prix.
After topping FP1, Rene Rast seemed right at home around the PIR, and set the fastest time in his group. Behind him, Jake Dennis became the only championship title rival to make it through to the Duels. Rast’s teammate, Jake Hughes, slotted into third, and Porsche’s da Costa secured the last space in the Duels.