Hughes seals maiden Julius Baer Pole Position for Round 3 in Diriyah

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Hughes seals maiden Julius Baer Pole Position for Round 3 in Diriyah

NEOM McLaren's Jake Hughes squeaked a maiden Julius Baer Pole Position for the CORE Diriyah E-Prix Round 3 in just his third race in Formula E, with a mega final corner drawing out just a tenth of-a-second on Mitch Evans (Jaguar TCS Racing) under huge pressure.

Jake Hughes pole Diriyah Round 3

Hughes has started third, second and now first in his three races to-date - some feat and by far the best qualifying average of anyone on the grid this season. It's a first pole for NEOM McLaren, too, with both Hughes and Rene Rast both in the top three - the German lining up third after Evans outdid him in the Semis but the experienced multiple DTM champion was overjoyed for his young teammate.

The Brit looked completely at ease as his McLaren danced beneath him over the undulating, rollercoaster Diriyah Street Circuit. The 28-year-old was constantly chopping away at the wheel to keep things in a straight line and weaved a near-perfect lap together - he seemingly just keeps getting stronger as he racks up the laps in Formula E.

RESULTS: The full classification

He earlier saw off Season 2 champion and Round 2 polesitter Sebastien Buemi - the Envision Racing driver's resurgence continues with fourth on the grid and the opportunity to bag solid points or even silverware.

Pascal Wehrlein and Jake Dennis finished one-two for TAG Heuer Porsche and Avalanche Andretti in their Porsche 99X Electric Gen3s in race one and the pair had to fight from ninth and 11th, respectively. They're far further up the field for Round 3, though, in fifth and sixth - surely well placed to progress and trouble those ahead.

HUGHES POLE

Maserati MSG Racing had a disaster day on Friday, with both cars shunting. The team have worked tirelessly overnight to get things repaired and set up to race on Saturday, and Edo Mortara repaid their efforts with seventh spot.

Current champion Stoffel Vandoorne sealed a first Duels appearance of the season but couldn't make it past Buemi - the Belgian will start eighth, with an opportunity to show the rest of the pack what his title defence is all about.

Semis

Rookie vs champ in Semi-final 1 and Hughes vs Buemi for a spot on the front-row of the grid. Hughes had, up to this point, the best qualifying average of 2.5 - massive consistency for the McLaren driver. He flew to an advantage of a third of-a-second by the half-way point of the lap. Mega performance under pressure in two consecutive Duels.

Down towards Turn 16 Buemi did catch, but it was too little, too late and Hughes held on by 0.246s - improving to a 1m08.680s and a new fastest time of the weekend so far. The Envision Racing driver seals fourth on the frid for Round 3.

FULL RACE: 2024 SUN MINIMEAL Berlin E-Prix, Round 10

Evans started out his fight to beat the sister McLaren of Rast nicely and a couple of tenths up on the German over Sector 1. Rast was tidier through the Turn 16/17 chicane but it wasn't enough to reel in the Jaguar, who pipped him by 0.232s. Rast will start race two third.

Quarters

Vandoorne faced Buemi in the first Quarter-final with the pair setting absolutely identical times through the first sector and absolutely inseperable. The two Formula E champions threaded the needle but the Swiss made it through with the DS PENSKE driver looking like he was maybe overdriving through the final third of the lap - Buemi thrilled over Driver Radio. The reigning champion would settle for eighth and that meant back-to-back top-four starts this weekend for Buemi, having not started higher than fifth in Season 8.

Dennis and Hughes were next up and it was advantage the McLaren driver - the gap growing as the lap unfolded to almost half a second in the end. Standings leader Dennis starts sixth and that 1m08.748s was comfortably the quickest time of the weekend so far.

Two Germans followed the pair of Brits in Rast and Wehrlein. Round 2 winner Wehrlein trailed ever so slightly through the early part of the lap but just a few hundredths of-a-second was in it, until the multiple DTM champion nailed the chicane to draw out 0.173s on his man and progress. The Porsche driver lines up fifth.

Mortara's recovery drive continued with a Quarters appearance after Friday's shunt and rebuilt. He couldn't quite match FP3-topper Evans, though, with the Jaguar man 0.370s clear. The Maserati MSG Racing driver will be seventh on the grid - he's only ever lost two Quarters and both of those have been to the Kiwi.

End of Group B quali

Groups

Ticktum was the longtime leader in Group A's running until Bird soared to the top of the times. As the final laps flurried in, though, Highes, Buemi, Vandoorne and Dennis all nudged the Jaguar TCS Racing driver down the timesheets and onto the fifth row of the grid. 

That's the first Duels appearance of the season for reigning champion Vandoorne. 

Group B was similarly cagey as teams had the drivers set a lap, test the waters and come in for changed tyres. As the session reached its climax, Evans was the man to beat on a 1m09.557s. He managed to go better still at the last much to Team Principal James Barclay's relief. Rast had gone quicker, briefly, before the McLaren driver wound up second while race one winner Wehrlein makes it through in third with Mortara fourth.

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