Bird and Vergne confirmed at DS Virgin Racing for second Formula E season

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Sam Bird and Jean-Eric Vergne will race for DS Virgin Racing in the second season of the FIA Formula E championship.

Ahead of the first pre-season test on Monday at Donington Park in England, the British team has confirmed that Bird will be retained following a successful debut campaign in the electric series.

“Last season was a learning curve but one I thoroughly enjoyed, so I’m elated to be back with the DS Virgin Racing team for the 2015/16 season,” Bird said.

“We had two great wins last season in Malaysia and then at my home race in London, so the aim is to build on that success and have a fantastic second season in Formula E.

“The advancements to the car around the powertrain are really exciting so I’m looking forward to getting back behind the wheel shortly in Donington to get some good testing in before the first race in Beijing.”

Vergne joins DS Virgin after racing for Andretti in season one, scoring three pole positions and two podium finishes en route to seventh place in the final championship standings.

“I am delighted to be joining the DS Virgin Racing Team at such an exciting time for the team, and also for the series given the new regulations for season two,” the ex-F1 driver said.

“With the DS brand coming on board as a new partner to the team, I am looking forward to being aligned with a French, forward thinking marque. I understand that there are a number of exciting things going on behind the scenes that should ensure that we have a competitive start to the season.

“Looking back to my first race of last season where I qualified on pole, I am very excited to be getting back into a racing seat at the first race of the season in October.

“I am confident that my raw pace and appetite for success will help ensure that DS Virgin Racing continues to be one of the leading teams in Formula E.”

Vergne will replace Jaime Alguersuari at DS Virgin for season two after the Spaniard announced earlier this week that he would take no part in season two due to medical concerns.

The Frenchman’s arrival at the team also frees up a seat at Amlin Andretti. The American team is expected to run Simona de Silvestro in one of its cars for 2015-2016, with the second potentially being shared by other Andretti-affiliated drivers.

Meyer Shank Racing wins Petit Le Mans to take final DPi championship in dramatic finale

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Meyer Shank Racing outdueled Wayne Taylor Racing to win the Petit Le Mans and clinch the championship in a thrilling final race for the DPi division.

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a 4.369-second victory over Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

“That was incredible,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports’ Matt Yocum. “I’ve never dug so deep in my life. The adrenaline. I did that for the guys. I was so motivated to win this thing this weekend. But I’ve got to thank everyone on the whole team.”

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its season-opening victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.

In between those two victories, the No. 60 earned five runner-up finishes to stay in the thick of the championship hunt and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.

WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes remaining in the 10-hour race.

But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.

Though he entered in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the pits, and he held the lead for the final 45 minutes.

Blomqvist said he gained the lead because of a shorter fuel fill after he had worked on being efficient in the second-to-last stint.

“The team asked a big job of me with the fuel; I had a big fuel number to hit,” Blomqvist said. “We knew that was probably our only chance. The yellow came at the right time and obviously we had a bit less fuel to fill up, so I was able to jump him and then it was just a matter of going gung-ho and not leaving anything on the line. And obviously, the opposition had to try too hard to make it work. I’m so thankful.”

Albuquerque closed within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension because of contact with a GT car in Turn 1.

It’s the first prototype championship for Meyer Shank Racing, which also won the 2021 Indy 500 with Castroneves.

“We’ve had in the last four years, three championships for Acura, the Indy 500 win and the Rolex 24, it doesn’t get any better,” team co-owner Mike Shank told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing, which won the first Daytona Prototype international championship in 2017. The premier category will be rebranded as the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with the LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that also includes Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in IMSA’s top prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has raced in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac lineup as the Action Express entry has run the Endurance Cup races.

Johnson said a lack of inventory will preclude him having a 2023 ride in the top category. But he still is hopeful of racing the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly running in a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’d love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after his final stint Saturday. “I’d love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked down yet, but I’m so thankful for this experience with Action. The support Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, all of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years, and I certainly hope I’m on the grid again next year.”