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Vergne to leave DS Virgin Racing for third Formula E season

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LONDON, UK – Jean-Eric Vergne will switch teams for the third FIA Formula E season after making his final appearance for DS Virgin Racing in Sunday’s London ePrix.

Vergne joined DS Virgin for season two, racing alongside Sam Bird. However, he struggled to match his teammate for pace for much of the campaign, only scoring his first podium finish in Paris in April. Pole position followed in Berlin before another podium in London on Saturday.

However, Vergne’s future with DS Virgin had been brought into question ever since the Buenos Aires ePrix in February amid confusion over his fitness after being ruled out before ultimately racing.

Vergne dropped hints about a possible departure in the lead-up to the London weekend, before confirming after the race on Sunday that it had been his last for the team.

“Yes, it was my last race with them,” Vergne told this writer, before saying that an announcement regarding his next move in Formula E will come “soon”.

Vergne balances his commitments in Formula E with a reserve role at Scuderia Ferrari in Formula 1, having taken over from Esteban Gutierrez following the Meixcan’s move to Haas for the 2016 season.

His final race for DS Virgin ended with a time penalty after using too much energy on his final stint, resulting in 50 seconds being added to his time, costing him third place. An additional second was added for an unsafe release from the pit lane.

Team principal Alex Tai confirmed that a miscalculation on the pit wall had caused Vergne to run short on energy, eventually being classified eighth after the penalties.

“I freed JEV up to make sure he was still able to attack and race as hard as he wanted to race. I should have taken a little but more into account some of the maths that was going on in the pit lane at the same time,” Tai explained.

Vergne’s seat with DS Virgin is widely expected to be taken by two-time WTCC champion Jose Maria Lopez, who is a factory driver for Citroen, the parent company of DS.

Lopez expressed an interest in racing in Formula E over the Buenos Aires ePrix weekend in his native Argentina, and even had a seat fitting after Vergne was ruled out before eventually recovering to take part in the race.

Bryan Sellers aims to be first Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY Champion

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Bryan Sellers will leave the familiar confines of his Paul Miller Lamborghini Huracan GT3 and head into the unknown in 2019.

At the age of 36, Sellers has 25 years of competitive racing behind him and is turning his attention to the battery-powered Jaguar I-PACE sedan that he will driver for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing – something he describes as “the way of the future.”

Racing for Ohio native Bobby Rahal, it is a connection that brings him home to his roots. Sellers was born in Centerville, Ohio. 

“I’m very proud to be a part of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing,” Sellers said in a press release. “I grew up in Ohio watching Bobby (Rahal) win races and build an incredible racing program and it will be nice to finally get to see it from the inside.”

Sellers’ electric-powered Jaguar won’t have the same horsepower as the V10 Lamborghini that he steered to victory in the 2018 IMSA Weather Tech Sports Car championship with co-driver Madison Snow and Katherine Legge.

At his heart, Sellers is a  racer chasing a championship and it’s not the horsepower but the potential for close competition that drives him. Next year, he has an opportunity to win the first ever Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY Championship.

In 2016, Jaguar joined the Formula E series. Now they are looking to make history with the world’s first all-electric production-based international race series that will compete at 10 venues next year in support of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship.

The series’ 10 venues will be international, racing on tracks in Saudi Arabia, Morocco, China, Italy, Mexico, France, Monaco, Germany and the USA, which will showcase electric cars on the streets of Brooklyn, New York, in July.

“Electric cars are clearly the way of the future and to be involved with the first electric production car racing series is very important to me,” Sellers said. “I’m very thankful to everyone at RLL and Jaguar for giving me this opportunity.”

Sellers raced fulltime in the American LeMans Series from 2005 through 2013 – amassing four victories and two other podium finishes. In 30 career races in the Grand-Am Series, he added three more visits to the podium.

But it was last year that was clearly the highlight for Sellers. For the second time in his career, he scored multiple wins in a series (Sellers had two wins in ALMS in 2011), but he stood on the podium eight times in addition to winning the championship.

Joining Sellers in the I-PACE eTROPHY Championship Jaguar next year will be Legge, who was one of his co-drivers in 2018.

“Experience, maturity and pace are very important qualities that I was looking for when we chose our driver lineup,” said Rahal, the former IndyCar Champion and Indy 500 winner.

The series will kickoff with the Formula E season-opener in Riyadh on December 15, 2018. They will not run in conjunction with the next two Formula E rounds and will rejoin for most of the remainder of the 2019 season.