QUALIFYING REPORT: Rowland surges to home pole for Nissan in Tokyo

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QUALIFYING REPORT: Rowland surges to home pole for Nissan in Tokyo

Yorkshireman Oliver Rowland sealed Julius Baer Pole Position for Nissan on home soil in Japan ahead of the inaugural Tokyo E-Prix Round 5.

Nissan Rowland Tokyo Season 10

Nissan and Oliver Rowland made history in Japan, as the home team achieved the Julius Baer Pole Position for the second time this season. The session, which saw the Duels filled with eight drivers from eight different teams, was not short of drama and set up the grid brilliantly for the inaugural Tokyo E-Prix later today. 

Rowland was just 0.021s ahead of the Maserati MSG Racing of Maximilian Guenther in the Finals, as big names like Championship leader Nick Cassidy will start down in 19th after having his lap time deleted for a technical infraction.

RESULTS: The full qualifying classification from Tokyo

The all-new Tokyo circuit proved to be a proper challenge for the drivers with drifts, jumps and car control at the fore - it was a real spectacle.

Final

The last battle of the weekend's qualifying session was Rowland versus Guenther. Rowland is undefeated in any of the Duels this season, and continued that record in front of Nissan’s home crowd. The lap started strong as Rowland started two tenths ahead at the end of the first sector, but Guenther caught up quickly and the end result was split by just 0.021s! 

Semi-Finals

Edoardo Mortara and his Mahindra took on Oliver Rowland for the first of the two Semis. This is the furthest that the Mahindra team have gone in a Duels showdown since Lucas di Grassi was on pole in Mexico at the start of last season. However, he was up against Rowland who has looked super strong all weekend and has the support of the Japanese fans behind him, as well as the Yorkshireman being undefeated in any duel this season until that point. Rowland was the one that emerged ahead, being the first driver to break the 1m18s barrier with a 1m18.885s. 

Finally, it was Maserati MSG Racing’s Maximilian Guenther who took on ERT’s Sergio Sette Camara. A small mistake on the Brazilian’s lap meant he was forced to limp round and finished over two seconds of the time set by Guenther.

WhatsApp Image 2024-03-30 at 11.34.58

Quarters

First up was Edoardo Mortara, who went up against Reigning World Champion Jake Dennis. The Mahindra driver had only won one duel in the last 12 months, but managed to beat Dennis to soar through to the Semi Finals. Dennis was taking the term ‘Tokyo Drift’ quite literally as he was sliding around the street circuit on his lap, coming dangerously close to the walls. 

Mitch Evans, celebrating his 100th Formula E race this weekend, took on home-favourite Oliver Rowland next. Before qualifying, a Jaguar had started in the top four at every race in Season 10 but that record came to an end in Tokyo as Evans whacked the wall on his lap at Turn 9. Although the damage didn’t look too bad, it caused quite the scene and sent some advertising material flying. Rowland did run over the mess, but it didn’t stop him from going quickest against the 10-time race winner. 

The two drivers taking to the track were the ABT CUPRA of Nico Mueller and ERT’s Sergio Sette Camara. Sette Camara reached the duel Semi Finals in Diriyah, and made it through once again with a fantastic lap. The last front row for ERT was 78 races ago when it was named NIO in GEN1, thanks to Oliver Turvey’s second place in Berlin. 

Finally, it was a German vs German Duels with Pascal Wehrlein of TAG Heuer Porsche and Maserati MSG Racing’s Maximilian Guenther. Although Wehrlein might be higher in the championship, thanks to his win in Mexico City, it was Guenther who flew through by just under half a second. This is the second time in two races that these two have faced each other, and on both occasions it’s been Guenther who finished ahead, although in São Paulo the Maserati man had a grid drop for a change of parts to his car. 

Group A

Qualifying got underway in the Tokyo sun, with several big names all fighting for the top four spots in the Duels. The times started to tumble as the track evolution improved, with everyone trying to be the last to set a time. 

It was Nissan’s Oliver Rowland who went quickest, with a time of 1m19.658s, a great sign for the home team in front of the Japanese fans. Just behind him by 0.020s was Mahinda Racing’s Edoardo Mortara, locking in his second consecutive Duels appearance. 

Nick Cassidy got through in third on Jaguar’s 100th race start, but his teammate Mitch Evans looked like had to settle for fifth. However, no sooner had the session finished, Cassidy was placed under investigation for a technical infraction and had his lap time deleted. The new Jaguar signing was also clearly angry on the radio, and also stated that ABT CUPRA’s Lucas di Grassi had blocked him on his lap at Turn 4. 

Jake Dennis got the final spot for the Duels, and was promoted up to third with Cassidy’s deleted lap time, which meant Evans moved into fourth. But it wasn’t over yet, as Jake Hughes (NEOM McLaren) and Evans were also placed under investigation for impeding. 

Group B

The drama didn’t stop there, as Group B also delivered some big stories. ERT’s Sergio Sette Camara made contact with the wall early on, sending debris scattering onto the track, but despite the mistake he found himself through to the Duels. The Brazilian made his second appearance in the next stage of qualifying, which has already equalled the amount of times he reached the Duels across all of Season 9. 

He was beaten to the top spot by Maximilian Guenther, who set a storming lap time of 1m19.391s. Joining him in the Duels was Nico Mueller of ERT for a second consecutive race weekend, and championship favourite TAG Heuer Porsche’s Pascal Wehrlein. 

There was a close moment between the NEOM McLaren of Sam Bird and Mahindra Racing’s Nyck de Vries who both went down an escape road near Turn 16, but both drivers were fine. De Vries ended Group B in sixth, with Bird down in 11th. The Brit was also under investigation for impeding with Jean-Eric Vergne (DS PENSKE) – a nightmare result for the man who won last time out in São Paulo.

SCHEDULE: Where, when and how to watch or stream the 2024 Tokyo E-Prix Round 5

Round 5 is up next at 15:00 local/06:00 UTC.

WATCH: How to watch or stream Formula E's Tokyo E-Prix where you are

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