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FE heats up for double Diriyah leg under the lights

ROUNDS two and three of Formula E (FE) season ten continue in Saudi Arabia on a circuit nestled between UNESCO-protected ancient sites.

DS Penske driver Jean-Eric Vergne grabbed pole for the first leg of the Diriyah E-Prix doubleheader, beating out Jaguar TCS Racing’s Mitch Evans by just 0.072 seconds at the finish line.

Vergne grabbed his 16th career pole in Formula E and the team’s first pole since São Paulo in 2023, when JEV’s teammate Stoffel Vandoorne took P1, and Vergne’s first since Jakarta in 2022. 

Defending World Champion Jake Dennis will start race one from third after losing out in the semifinals to Evans, while his Andretti Racing teammate Norman Nato lines up in fifth place.

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Vergne’s teammate Stoffel Vandoorne missed out on the duels section of the qualifying session, grabbing eighth, while last year’s race one Diriyah E-Prix’s winner and current championship leader Pascal Wehrlein will start in eighth place.

Diriyah’s 2023 leg was action-filled with plenty of overtakes on the bumpy and snaking circuit, with a victory from TAG Heuer Porsche’s Pascal Wehrlein in the first race and Andretti’s Dennis taking the second race win.

Jean-Eric Vergne with the Julius Baer Pole Position trophy ahead of race one of the Diriyah E-Prix

The weekend kicked off with (Nissan) NISMO’s Oliver Rowland topping the grid at the end of the first free practice, which was temporarily halted with a red flag after Envision Racing’s Sebastian Buemi stopped on track. Andretti’s Nato topped the grid in the second practice ahead of qualifying and said he felt it was a good measure for the race, despite Diriyah’s windy conditions.

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Drivers have said one of their biggest tasks in their race will be the tyres low grip on the track, which is exacerbated by the sand blown onto the track and 

The Diriyah Circuit is a unique blend of old and new. Tight corners, a fast chicane, and the infamous “Bobsleigh Run” section offer ample overtaking opportunities and test both driver skill and car precision.

Race one starts at 7 PM Central African Time (CAT), 26 January, on available broadcasters while qualifying for race two begins on the morning of January 27 ahead of race two later in the afternoon.

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By MPHO RANTAO

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