Da Costa fires to first pole position of the season in Marrakesh

Antonio Felix da Costa (DS TECHEETAH) will line up on Julius Baer Pole Position for the Marrakesh E-Prix Round 10, having pipped title protagonists Edo Mortara (ROKiT Venturi Racing) and Jean-Eric Vergne, as standings leader Stoffel Vandoorne (Mercedes-EQ) could only manage 20th position.

Mortara left nothing on the table through the first sector of his Final lap but it was da Costa that came through there on top – slightly neater and tidier, according to Allan McNish on commentary. That gap built as the pair approached the middle of the lap to a tenth of a second and the Portuguese continued to hammer home his authority, despite the precision of the Venturi driver.

RESULTS: The full qualifying classification

Fine margins, but an important victory ahead of the race for the DS TECHEETAH driver who secured his Julius Baer Pole Position of the season – doubly important given it puts a DS ahead of one of Vergne’s immediate title rivals, with the Frenchman set to start third and ready to capitalise on Vandoorne’s struggles.

Mitch Evans (Jaguar Racing) – currently fourth in the standings – has a little bit more work to do than those immediately around him in the table from sixth on the grid. That said, he’s still very well placed to make progress in the Drivers’ World Championship given Vandoorne’s starting berth.

Duels Marrakesh

Semis

Wehrlein v Mortara sparked the Semis into life. With a couple of corners of the lap to go, nothing could separate the pair, with just 0.020s between them. The last sector for Mortara was mighty, though, and across the line it was the Swiss-French-Italian in the Venturi who progressed, leaving Wehrlein fourth.

The DS’ then faced off. Vergne had bested his teammate in the earlier running and they swapped back and forth over the lap in a remarkable fight. Again, nothing could split the two and this time, da Costa did enough after a lockup at Turn 10 for JEV cost the Frenchman a few hundredths – leaving him, still, a very strong-looking third on the grid given his immediate title rivals’ grid slots.

Quarters

The first of the Duels saw championship rivals Evans square off against Mortara in the biggest face off we’ve seen so far this season in the title chase. It was the Venturi driver that produced the goods with a huge lap and a lead over Evans that grew and grew – to almost half a second come the finish line. Aggressive from Mortara and disappointing for Evans who’ll line up sixth.

Nick Cassidy (Envision Racing) stole the early advantage over Pascal Wehrlein before a moment halfway around the lap saw him narrowly avoid the wall through Turn 8, handing the Duels win to a collected Wehrlein who retained his momentum. Cassidy starts a creditable eighth.

Next up, Vergne faced Jake Dennis and the DS driver followed through on his practice-topping pace to surgically dispatch the Andretti racer by a chunky three tenths of a second. Dennis wound up a fighting fifth.

The sister Andretti of Oliver Askew and da Costa in the other DS faced each other next and it was the same story as in the third quarter-final with the Portuguese dispatching the American by another three tenths of a second. Askew will be encouraged with seventh.

Groups

As the final hot laps were fired in, Mortara set the pace and stayed top with a 1m18.366s. Cassidy was able to make it through to the Duels and wound up just 0.066s shy of the ROKiT Venturi Racing driver. Both Avalanche Andrettis made it through, too, with Dennis pipping Askew to third – Dennis having changed his powertrain after missing FP1 entirely.

Vandoorne found himself more than half a second shy heading into the final sector, leaving him out early on and down in eighth in his group - and eventual 20th on the grid with it all to do.

Andre Lotterer (Porsche) had the spectre of a infraction of qualifying procedure hanging over his head after he failed to set a lap time inside the first six minutes of the Groups running. His times were eventually cancelled and he starts right at the back.

The protagonists in Group B were Nyck de Vries (Mercedes-EQ), Vergne and Evans. Vergne’s banker was good enough to lay down the gauntlet before teammate da Costa went quicker still. Wehrlein followed and Evans squeezed through as the last of the Group B runners to make it into the Duels. De Vries, who ended up fifth in the Groups and will start a net ninth, failed to make it alongside his teammate – the first time a Mercedes-EQ has failed to make the knockout stages.

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