Envision Virgin Racing driver Nick Cassidy claimed his first-ever Formula E pole position in a damp qualifying for the second Rome E-Prix.

Major track evolution helped set up a surprise shootout for pole position between Formula E rookies Cassidy and Norman Nato, as conditions dramatically improved throughout the Superpole session with the track drying out following light rain showers in the morning.

That enabled Cassidy to take full advantage of the improving track conditions to claim a surprise pole on a 1m52.011s, over three-tenths clear of Venturi’s Nato, who had set the pace in group qualifying but lost time in the final sector having matched Cassidy earlier in the lap. 

Super GT and Super Formula champion Cassidy had not scored a point to date this season until his superb pole effort that puts the Kiwi at the front of the grid for the second race of the weekend on Sunday.

Porsche’s Pascal Wehrlein was third-quickest having briefly sat at the top of the timesheets before both Cassidy and Nato usurped the German driver.

Stoffel Vandoorne was fourth for Mercedes as he looks to bounce back from a disappointing first race that ended with a crash after hitting a manhole cover in the closing stages, while BMW’s Max Gunther and Mahindra driver Alex Sims will start from P5 and P6.

Edoardo Mortara was the first driver to miss out on Superpole in seventh. He joined Oliver Rowland, Nico Muller and Sebastien Buemi in completing the rest of the top 10.

The changing conditions mean that a number of championship frontrunners find themselves starting out of position after setting their respective laps earlier in group qualifying.

Points leader Sam Bird, who was the fastest driver in Group 1, will start 11th for Jaguar, with Audi’s Lucas di Grassi 13th and reigning Formula E champion Antonio Felix da Costa only 15th for Techeetah.

Mercedes’ Nyck de Vries finds himself down in 18th, while Formula E’s only two-time champion Jean-Eric Vergne endured a nightmare qualifying as he ended the session with the slowest time of all, ending group qualifying over eight seconds off the pace.

Andre Lotterer had been set for a spot in Superpole but saw his best lap time deleted for power overuse, leaving him 22nd on the grid, ahead of Dragon racer Sergio Sette Camara and BMW’s Jake Dennis and, both of whom also failed to complete a lap due to car issues.