Jake Dennis secured his second pole position of the season after defeating Nick Cassidy in the final at the Rome E-Prix, whilst Mitch Evans claimed fourth on the grid.

Dennis claimed pole and received three crucial championship points as a result, after setting a 1:37.986. Cassidy’s time was just under a tenth slower, with his lead in the Drivers’ Championship having now been reduced to just two points ahead of this afternoon’s race.

As qualifying got underway to decide the grid for the 14th round of the 2022/23 Formula E season, the air temperature was once again blazing hot at 10:40 local time. The air temperature in Rome was already 31°C, whilst the track surface was rapidly reaching almost 50°C.

Kicking-off qualifying in Group A were new championship leader Cassidy and yesterday’s race winner Evans, who also started Saturday’s race from pole position. As a result, the Jaguar driver was the favourite for pole ahead of the session. Both drivers sat in the top four following their initial push laps, with Cassidy having topped the group from Jean-Éric Vergne, Evans and Stoffel Vandoorne.

Unfortunately, rookie Sacha Fenestraz failed to even exit the pits, due to a suspected battery-related issue which also saw him miss free practice 3. The Frenchman was expected to be amongst the top four, given that he qualified third yesterday.

As the chequered flag brought Group A to a close, several drivers were setting green and purple sector times. Cassidy and Evans both improved on their best times and safely remained in the top four, whilst Sam Bird set the quickest time in the session. The Briton topped the group on a 1:38.434, ahead of Cassidy, NIO’s Dan Ticktum and Evans.

The Circuito Cittadino dell’EUR was clearly ramping up, as Dennis’ opening hot lap in Group B was quicker than Bird’s leading time in the first group. Dennis sat at the top of the second group after the initial push laps, ahead of Sébastian Buemi, Jake Hughes and now championship outsider Pascal Wehrlein.

After slipping to 31 points behind the championship leader yesterday, Wehrlein is in desperate need of a huge performance, should he want to remain in the title fight in London. Just like on Saturday though, Wehrlein failed to progress to the duels, with his best time having only been good enough for eighth in the session.

Whilst Wehrlein struggled, Dennis thrived, as the Andretti driver topped Group B on a 1:38.214. The British driver safely made it into the duels along with Buemi, Norman Nato and yesterday’s podium finisher Maximilian Günther.

Into the duels, and the opening quarter-final saw Ticktum go up against yesterday’s second-place finisher Cassidy. Given that the Envision driver started ninth yesterday, the New Zealander was guaranteed a better starting position for race two ahead of the duel. Cassidy did well to defeat Ticktum by over a second, to progress to the semi-finals. His 1:37.536 to defeat the NIO driver was also the fastest lap of the weekend.

Quarter-final number two saw a repeat of yesterday’s final, as Evans battled Bird. Unsurprisingly, team orders were clearly at play at Jaguar TCS Racing, as Bird backed off prior to crossing the line. It handed a place in the semi-final to Evans, who is the team’s sole hope in the Drivers’ Championship.

Evans wasn’t the only driver to be handed victory in the quarter-finals, as Nato successfully defeated Buemi in the third duel after the Envision driver locked-up his rears at Turn 7. Buemi slammed on the brakes to avoid ploughing into the barrier, which he did gently brush prior to coming to a complete stop.

The final quarter-final was an exciting one, as Dennis went against Günther. The Andretti driver defeated the German by just over four-tenths of a second, after posting a reasonable 1:38.179.

All eyes were on the opening semi-final as Evans went up against Cassidy, in an all-Kiwi affair. The duo, of course, finished first and second yesterday, whilst they are also title rivals. In what was a huge shock, Cassidy defeated the ‘King of Rome’ by just over two-tenths of a second, after both drivers set slower times than expected.

Dennis was targeting to join Cassidy in the final, but he first had to defeat Nato in the second semi-final. That’s exactly what the Andretti driver did; however, the duel was significantly closer than expected. Dennis defeated the Nissan driver by just over a tenth, after setting a 1:38.087.

So the final saw the top two drivers in the standings go against each other, with it expected to be a very close fight. This is because Cassidy’s semi-final time was just two-thousandths of a second quicker than Dennis’.

With just five points separating the two drivers, the final was hugely significant in regard to the title fight. Both drivers knew this as they began their all-important lap. Halfway round the lap, Dennis had built an advantage of just under three-tenths, with the British driver having been on a scorching lap.

It wasn’t over yet though, as Cassidy’s final sector was sensational. Dennis ultimately defeated the Kiwi and claimed his second pole position of the season by just 0.071s, which also saw him reduce Cassidy’s lead in the championship to just two points ahead of this afternoon’s race.

The second race of this weekend’s double-header is set up beautifully, with the top two in the standings on the front row. Nato will start from third with Evans in fourth, meaning the Jaguar driver will have to fight past three drivers should he want to claim a fourth consecutive win in the Italian capital. Race two is set to be huge in the fight for the FE crown this season, with the top three drivers in the standings starting in the top four.

Bird will start in fifth ahead of Günther, with Ticktum, Buemi, Edoardo Mortara and António Félix da Costa completing the top 10 in the Eternal City. Wehrlein will start in a disappointing 15th.

The second race of the weekend gets underway at 14:03 GMT.

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