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Buemi captures first Formula E pole of season in Monaco

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MONACO – Defending Formula E drivers’ champion Sebastien Buemi swept to pole position for Saturday’s Monaco ePrix after edging out perennial rival Lucas di Grassi in qualifying.

Buemi made a perfect start to the year by winning the first three races, only to finish a lowly 14th last time out in Mexico City, allowing di Grassi to cut the gap in the drivers’ standings.

The Swiss driver finished third in the opening heats as Jean-Eric Vergne topped the timesheets, but Buemi dug deep and turn in a best lap of 53.313s in the Super Pole shootout to take pole position.

The result marked Buemi’s first pole since last year’s London ePrix, and is the first time that he has shared a front row with di Grassi since their infamous clash at Battersea Park.

Nelson Piquet Jr. put in an impressive display for NextEV NIO, taking third on the grid, while Vergne and Venturi’s Maro Engel ended the session fourth and fifth respectively.

Street circuit specialist Felix Rosenqvist narrowly missed out on a place in the Super Pole shootout, finishing sixth for Mahindra, with teammate Nick Heidfeld two places further back in P8. DS Virgin Racing drivers Jose Maria Lopez and Sam Bird were seventh and 10th respectively as Daniel Abt slotted into P9.

Recent Formula 1 driver Esteban Gutierrez’s second qualifying session saw him finish within a second of teammate Vergne, yet this was only good enough for P14 due to the close-knit nature of the field. Adam Carroll, Nicolas Prost and Jerome d’Ambrosio all encountered issues, leaving them to fill out the bottom three positions on the grid.

The Monaco ePrix takes place at 4pm local time in Monaco (10am ET) today.

Former 5-time ALMS and Le Mans-winning team owner Dave Maraj killed in accident

Photo courtesy Dave Maraj Facebook page
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Well-known sports car team owner and automobile dealership owner Dave Maraj was killed Saturday night in a boating accident in Florida, according to SportsCar365.com.

Maraj’s Champion Racing teams won five consecutive American Le Mans Series championships from 2004 through 2008, and also captured the overall win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2005, the last American team to do so in the iconic sports car race.

IMSA President Scott Atherton released the following statement mourning Maraj’s passing:

Dave Maraj. Photo courtesy IMSA.

“All of us at IMSA are shocked and saddened by the news of Dave Maraj’s passing. As a team owner in the American Le Mans Series, Dave and his Champion Racing organization were the epitome of professionalism and excellence, as their five series championships and 24 Hours of Le Mans victory will attest.

“Dave was a tremendous competitor and a great friend to all in the paddock throughout his time in our sport. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dave’s family and friends and to all of his associates at Champion Motors.”

Maraj was a very successful automobile dealership owner, most notably Champion Motors and Champion Porsche in Pompano Beach, Florida, the latter considered the No. 1 Porsche dealer in the U.S.

Details of how Maraj died have not been released.

Maraj sold his racing operation after the 2008 season and devoted himself to his Porsche and Audi auto dealerships, as well as competitive sailing.