Pechito packs a punch in Buenos Aires

DS Virgin Racing had high hopes for a good day after very positive performances from its drivers during the free practice sessions. Jose Maria Lopez battled from 18th to 10th in a heroic mid-pack fight to score a valuable point for DS Virgin Racing

DS Virgin Racing entered Buenos Aires feeling bullish ahead of the 3rd race of the season. Sam Bird had won on the same track last year, whilst Jose Maria Lopez as the sole Argentinian in the series was the clear crowd favourite. The day however brought mixed fortunes.

Early practice sessions kept team spirits high, with Pechito setting the quickest time in FP1 and Sam Bird setting the quickest time in FP2.  Changeable grip conditions during qualifying however resulted in Sam lining up in 10th on the starting grid, whilst Pechito hit a wall during qualifying meaning he started the race from 18th.

From the green light however both drivers made it clear they were up for the fight, Bird immediately moving up one place to 9th while Lopez narrowly avoided Graham Carroll, sliding into 17th shortly before a full course yellow halfway through lap 2. By Lap 4 a coming together on a corner saw Bird’s DSV-02 sandwiched against a wall, with critical damage to his rear left suspension.

Meanwhile Jose Maria Lopez rocketed into action, chasing and passing Nick Heidfeld through lap 17 into 15th. He then moved within yards of Daniel Abt, showing a developing skill for energy management as he opted to stay out through lap 19 as most of the pack pitted, eventually returning to the pits himself on a nail biting 1% battery on lap 20.

Rejoining the race, lap 22 saw Lopez move up to 14th, mounting a second attack on Venturi’s Stephane Sarrazin who he’d jockeyed with in the earlier stages. The crowd were on their feet by lap 31 as a battle erupted between Antonio Felix da Costa, Sarrazin and Lopez, with cars 3 abreast around turns and Lopez making two bold attempts on inside overtakes and successfully moving through Sarrazin into 13th on lap 32, before going past Robin Frijns up to 11th and eventually 10th place by lap 36.  Sebastien Buemi took the chequered flag, with Jean-Eric Vergne second and Lucas Di Grassi 3rd.

“This was a positive race for Pechito.” said DS Performance director Xavier Mestelan Pinon. “His energy management skill in the late pitting shows his rapid progression as a Formula E driver in just his 3rd race.”

Speaking of the race, Jose Maria Lopez said “I enjoyed moving through the pack today in front of a home crowd. I have renewed confidence in my energy management, and I’m growing in confidence and aggression with every minute I spend in the DSV-02.”

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