DS VIRGIN RACING & SAM BIRD MAKE HISTORY TO WIN FIRST EVER RACE IN NEW YORK CITY
DS Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird made history by becoming the first ever winner of a car race in New York City during today’s all-electric Formula E ePrix.
The Brit clinched victory with a stunning drive from fourth on the grid to claim the honours – the fourth of his and the team’s Formula E career – in front of packed sell-out Brooklyn crowd.
Cheered on by Virgin founder and the team’s reserve driver Sir Richard Branson, Bird quickly worked his way up the field during the early stages of the race before making a great pass up the inside of the hairpin to take the lead from Daniel Abt. A precision pit stop then allowed him to maintain his lead and control the gap to Jean Eric Vergne behind. With five laps to go, a brief safety car period meant there would be a two-lap dash to the line when the race resumed but Bird executed a perfect restart and never looked in doubt as he took the chequered flag and a place in the history books.
Meanwhile, it was a bittersweet race for fellow Brit and Formula E debutant Alex Lynn, competing in place of Jose Maria Lopez. The 23-year-old showed stunning pace from the get-go topping the timesheets in his first ever practice session, before going on to claim pole position and his first championship points with a stunning lap that also stunned the Formula E paddock. However, he was unable to capitalise on a likely top five finish when he was forced to retire from the race three-quarters through due to a mechanical issue.
“Thank you to the team who did an amazing job today with everything, especially my engineer who kept me calm in the final stages!” said Bird, who was joined by Sir Richard Branson on the podium who collected the winning trophy for the team. “It was a tough race but after the safety car I got a decent restart and it was a bit nerve racking as I knew [Jean-Eric] Vergne would be pushing me but we got there and it’s fantastic to be celebrating this victory. Congratulations to everyone within Formula E too to get New York on the calendar!”
Lynn said: “It’s been a phenomenal day for the team with Sam wining and pole for me and cements want a strong package we have and what a great job the team has done. Obviously, it’s a real shame we didn’t get the result we wanted as I think we were looking at a top five but we know we have strong pace and we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”
The result sees the team edge closer to third spot in the team standings being just 24 points adrift while Sam Bird climbs to fifth position. This evening the Empire State Building will also be lit in red and purple, the colours of DS Virgin Racing.
Team Principal Alex Tai said: “To win the first ever race in New York is just fantastic and the whole team have done an amazing job. We’ve showed all season that we have race-winning pace so to demonstrate our true capabilities at such a historic event is a great feeling. Sam has done a great job today but so too has Alex. This is the fourth Formula E race Sir Richard Branson has attended so to see us win is even more special, as it is for our new sponsor Kaspersky.”
Xavier Mestelan Pinon, DS Performance Director, added: “To secure victory in such an iconic city as New York is a great result for the team. Well done to Sam and thanks to the team for this fantastic win and of course to Alex for his maiden pole. This is the reward from all the previous hardwork over the past few weeks in the simulator and in testing and it’s great that it’s paid off when it counts.”