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ds-virgin-marrakesh16DS Virgin Racing achieved a well-deserved podium in Marrakesh, with driver Sam Bird starting and finishing in second position, but not before a highly eventful day.

Sam Bird stormed to second place in Marrakesh to bring home DS Virgin Racing’s first points of the season.

Following a dramatic morning practice session which saw drivers from all teams contend with the Marrakesh track’s slippery surface and formidable corners, Sam Bird finished 4th fastest. A strong performance in Super Pole meant the 29 year-old Brit was due to start the race from 3rd position, but a grid penalty for a weight infringement moved Sebastien Buemi down the order, resulting in Sam starting the race from 2nd place.

DS Virgin Racing’s Jose Maria Lopez began in 13th position after a difficult morning in the two practice sessions reduced his track time in the lead up to qualifying. “For me, starting from here, and in only my second race, it’s about using today to get to know the car more and the motions of the series,” the Argentinian said on the starting grid.

A slick start from the leading pack saw early jostling for position. Felix Rosenqvist retained first position whilst Sam Bird remained steady in 2nd place. The action amongst those drivers immediately behind Sam Bird began to hot up at around lap 11, and on lap 15 Jean-Eric Vergne passed Sam, pushing him down to 3rd. The two leaders then pitted, but Sam and Sébastian Buemi continued on track for an extra lap, allowing them to contest their second stint with more energy.

Buemi and Sam completed their lap and entered the pit lane in positions 1 & 2. A seamless car changeover banished any fears post Hong Kong as Sam exited the pits in 4th behind Rosenqvist, Vergne and Buemi.

The additional pre-pit lap meant Buemi and Sam both had a significant energy advantage over the two leaders, and they proceeded to hunt first and second spots down accordingly.In the meantime, José María López pitted and despite having lost a couple of places from his startingposition during his first stint, the team were similarly rapid in changeover and he was back on track immediately.

Further up the pack, Vergne received a penalty for speeding in the pit lane, which he took on lap 24, moving Sam up to 3rd. Buemi then moved into the lead ahead of Rosenqvist on lap 28. Lap 29 saw JoséMaría pass Robin Frijns into 10th, following a steady stream of passing manouvres in the laps leading up to that point.

An exciting final few laps then saw Sam move on Rosenqvist as superior energy reserves allowed him to catch and then overtake the Swede on lap 31. From here, Sam closed the gap on leader Buemi before finishing a comfortable 2nd. José María in the meantime held onto 10th to pick up a valuable championship point for the team and add to Sam’s 2nd place tally.

“It’s great to get points on the board. There’s still work to do, but getting a podium is a win in itself,” said Sam at the post race press conference. “Up next is tackling Sébastien Buemi. He’s on his own level right now. Today there were 19 guys battling for 2nd place. But…I have some ideas as to how we can move that up in Buenos Aires.”

José María was similarly upbeat, “My target was to finish and gain more experience, and I finished my second race with a point, so that’s a positive. I’m now confident for our next race in Buenos Aires.”

Team Principal Alex Tai said, “An excellent result. I’m delighted Pechito is now scoring points, and through Sam we’ve seen the true capability of the car. We’re now looking forward to race three. Watch this space.”

Head of DS Performance Xavier Mestelan Pinon, added, “The car’s performance shone through with the podium result. Marrakesh was a more consistent day for us. We’re beginning to see the true performance potential of our team.”

Finally, Team & Sporting Manager Leon Price was the subject of this race’s Human Element series, whereby we profile members of the team in the lead up to and during the race weekend. Following the race, Leon commented, “Really pleased to get off the mark for the season following the disappointment in Hong Kong. The guys were extremely busy all day in the garage but were rewarded with a great result.”
#HumanElement

FIA Formula E Marrakesh 2016 – Results
Pos Driver Team
1 Sébastien Buemi Renault e.dams
2 SAM BIRD DS VIRGIN RACING
3 Felix Rosenqvist Mahindra Racing
4 Nicolas Prost Renault e.dams
5 Lucas Di Grassi ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport
6 Daniel Abt ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport
7 Oliver Turvey NEXTEV NIO
8 Jean-Eric Vergne TECHEETAH
9 Nick Heidfeld Mahindra Racing
10 JOSÉ MARIA LOPEZ DS VIRGIN RACING
11 Robin Frijns Andretti Formula E
12 Stéphanen Sarrazin Venturi Formula E Team
13 Jérôme D’Ambrosio Faraday Future Dragon Racing
14 Adam Carroll Panasonic Jaguar Racing
15 Ma Qing Hua TECHEETAH
16 Nelson Piquet Jr. NEXTEV NIO
17 Mitch Evans Panasonic Jaguar Racing
18 Loïc Duval Faraday Future Dragon Racing
– Maro Engel Venturi Formula E Team
– Antonio Felix Da Costa Andretti Formula E

FIA Formula E Championship – Driver standings
Position Driver Team Points
1 Sébastien Buemi Renault e.dams 50
2 Lucas Di Grassi ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport 28
3 Nicolas Prost Renault e.dams 24
4 Felix Rosenqvist Mahindra Racing 19
5 Sam Bird DS Virgin Racing 18
6 Nick Heidfeld Mahindra Racing 17
7 Antonio Felix Da Costa Andretti Formula E 10
8 Oliver Turvey NEXTEV NIO 10
9 Robin Frijns Andretti Formula E 8
10 Daniel Abt ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport 8
11 Jérôme D’Ambrosio Faraday Future Dragon Racing 6
12 Jean-Éric Vergne TECHEETAH 4
13 Nelson Piquet Jr NEXTEV NIO 3
14 Maro Engel Venturi Formula E Team 2
15 Stéphanen Sarrazin Venturi Formula E Team 1
16 José Maria Lopez DS Virgin Racing 1
17 Loïc Duval Faraday Future Dragon Racing 1
18 Adam Carroll Panasonic Jaguar Racing 0
19 Ma Qing Hua TECHEETAH 0
20 Mitch Evans Panasonic Jaguar Racing 0

FIA Formula E Championship – Team Standings
Pos. Team Points
1 Renault e.dams 74
2 ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport 36
3 Mahindra Racing 36
4 DS VIRGIN RACING 19
5 Andretti Formula E 18
6 NEXTEV NIO 13
7 Faraday Future Dragon Racing 7
8 TECHEETAH 4
9 Venturi Formula E Team 3
10 Panasonic Jaguar Racing 0

For more information on the DS Virgin Racing Formula E Team, please visit http://www.ds-virginracing.com

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