Formula E: Jarno Trulli claims pole for Berlin ePrix

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Jarno Trulli sprung a surprise on Saturday afternoon to claim his first FIA Formula E pole position in qualifying for the Berlin ePrix at the disused Berlin Tempelhof airport.

Despite qualifying in the first group of cars and having the disadvantage of a green track, Trulli posted a fastest lap time of 1:21.547 to edge out championship leader Lucas di Grassi and Monaco race winner Sebastien Buemi at the front of the field.

Racing for his eponymous team, Trull has endured a difficult start to life in Formula E with just one top ten finish in the opening seven races of the championship’s inaugural season.

However, the Italian driver rallied in Berlin to clinch his team’s first pole position with a fine display.

“Yeah I’m really pleased,” Trulli said. “I have to thank my team and supporters. We’ve been struggling quite a lot recently to find the right pace and the right setup on the car. It’s been a very hard weekend for the team.

“We have made some steps and some progress, but we were a little bit surprised not to be competitive in Monaco. Finally here we’ve found the right pace. The right adjustment on the car made the difference. We still have some work to do but we are getting there step by step.”

Di Grassi did appear to be in the running for pole position during his group three run, but fell less than one-tenth of a second short and will start the race from second place on the grid. Buemi managed to set the pace in group four, but did not improve on his final lap, leaving him third overall ahead of Nick Heidfeld.

Championship contender Nelson Piquet Jr struggled in qualifying, falling down to P13 by the end of the session behind American driver Scott Speed in 12th place.

This result marks Trulli’s first pole position in motor racing since the 2009 Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix, when he started from first place for Toyota.

However, the pressure will be on his shoulders to bring the car home and convert it into a first podium finish – or better still, a race win – for the team in Formula E.

Supercross points leader Eli Tomac finds silver linings in interruption

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Though his Monster Energy AMA Supercross championship charge was put on hold, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had a silver lining for Eli Tomac.

Off the road while the season was postponed for nearly three months, the points leader was able to be present as his girlfriend, Jessica, gave birth to their daughter, Lev, on April 26

“A huge blessing for us there,” Tomac told host Mike Tirico during a “Lunch Talk Live” interview (click on the video above) in which he also joked about becoming a pro at busting off diaper changes. “That was one good blessing for us as we had our daughter on a Sunday, that would have been on a travel day coming back from the race in Las Vegas.

NBCSN

“That was probably the only positive out of all this mess was being able to be there for the birth.”

But there also could be more good fortune for Tomac as the series resumes Sunday at Salt Lake City, Utah (3-4 p.m. ET on NBCSN, 4-6 p.m. on NBC).

The final seven events will be held over 22 days in Rice-Eccles Stadium, which sits at just over 4,000 feet.

The elevation could favor Tomac, who was born and lives in Colorado and is accustomed to riding and training at altitude, which is a departure for many Supercross riders (many of whom hail from California and Florida).

COVID-19 TESTING REQUIRED: Supercross outlines protocols for last seven races

“That’s going to be the test for us,” said the Kawasaki rider, who five of the first 10 races this season. “We’re at elevation in Salt Lake, so when you’re on a motorcycle, you have a little bit of a loss of power. That’s just what happens when you come up in elevation. And a lot of guys train at sea level, and we’re at 4,000 to 5,000 feet, so cardio-wise, we’ll be pushed to the limit.

“Most of our races are Saturday nights and back to back weeks, but this go around it’s Sunday and Wednesday, so recovery is going to be key.”

Supercross will race Sunday and Wednesday for the next three weeks, capping the season with the June 21 finale, which also will be shown on NBCSN from 3-4:30 p.m. ET and NBC from 4:30-6 p.m. ET.

Tomac, who holds a three-point lead over Ken Roczen (who also recently visited “Lunch Talk Live”), told Tirico he had been riding for 90 minutes Thursday morning on a track outside Salt Lake City.

“Most of us we can rely on our past riding pretty well,” Tomac said. “The question is if you can go the distance. That’s what a lot of guys have to train on is going the distance. We go 20 minutes plus a lap. That’s what you’ve got to keep sharp is your general muscles. Within two to three days, your brain starts warming up more if you take a few weeks off the motorcycle.”

Here is the schedule and TV information for the rest of the season:

  • Sunday, May 31 (3-4 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4-6 p.m. ET, NBC);
  • Wednesday, June 3 ( 10:00 pm – 1:00 am ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 7 (5-8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 10 (7–10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 14 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 17 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 21 (3-4:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. ET, NBC).
Eli Tomac rides his No. 3 Kawasaki in the Feb. 29 race at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia (Charles Mitchell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).