Sam Bird claimed his and DS Virgin Racing’s first Formula E pole-position at the 2016 Buenos Aires ePrix, outpacing Renault-e.Dams Nico Prost, with championship leader Sebastien Buemi starting last.
The Brit took advantage of mistakes from Buemi and Lucas Di Grassi, who both failed to make it into the Superpole session, to grab pole around the Puerto Madero Street Circuit with a time of 1.09.420, while Team Aguri’s Antonio Felix da Costa qualified a superb third.
Venturi are the only team to have two cars represented in the top five, as early pace-setter Stephane Sarrazin took fourth ahead of Formula E newcomer and team-mate Mike Conway, who impressed on his way to fifth.
Robin Frijns took his best ever qualifying position in sixth, while Di Grassi could only manage seventh ahead of ABT Audi Sport team-mate Daniel Abt. Reigning champion Nelson Piquet Jr and Jerome D’Ambrosio rounded out the top 10.
In Group 1, Venturi’s Sarrazin initially set the pace, topping Bird on a 1m09.236, while Conway was third during his first taste of Formula E qualifying, ahead of the returning Nick Heidfeld. Jean-Eric Vergne recovered from an illness which forced him to sit out of practice to post a respectable first flying lap of the weekend in his Virgin DSV-01.
Group 2 saw Prost get within two tenths of Sarrazin’s time to book his place in the Superpole shoot-out, as points leader Buemi made a costly error, spinning at Turn 7 while on a purple lap. Abt went fifth fastest, ahead of Dragon Racing’s Loic Duval and Amlin-Andretti’s Simona De Silvestro, who was eighth.
The third qualifying group was disrupted by a red flag as both Bruno Senna and Salvador Duran ended their sessions in the wall. Senna clouted the barriers at the final corner, causing heavy suspension damage to the right front of his Mahindra M2ELECTRO, having set the fastest first sector of all. Frijns moved into fifth, with Piquet Jr wrestling his troublesome Spark-NEXTEV up to seventh.
In the final group, Di Grassi could only manage a time good enough for sixth, meaning the Brazilian missed out on a place in the Superpole session. 2014 winner Felix da Costa impressed as he stormed up to second in his season one spec Team Aguri Spark-McLaren. Along with da Costa, Sarrazin, Prost, Bird and Conway all made it into the Superpole shoot-out.
Bird set the Superpole pace on a 1m09.420 with Prost three tenths further back. Da Costa continued to impress as he claimed third place, getting within a tenth of the Renault-e.Dams. Unable to match his time in the opening session, Sarrazin took fourth ahead of Venturi team-mate Conway.