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16th Apr 2018

Britain’s Sam Bird seals victory in thrilling finish to the inaugural Rome E-Prix

The packed crowd in the Italian capital was treated to a memorable end to the race

Simon Lloyd

In association with Formula E

Sam Bird was able to fend off a late surge from reigning champion Lucas Di Grassi to claim victory in the first ever Rome E-Prix over the weekend.

The first of this Formula E season’s European E-Prixs, those watching from the packed stands which lined the Italian capital’s street circuit were treated to a thrilling climax to the race, which eventually saw Bird take the chequered flag.

The DS Virgin Racing driver had started the race second on the grid, but was able to capitalise when leader Felix Rosenqvist, who had looked comfortable and firmly in control during the early stages, was forced to retire after sustaining damage to his suspension on lap 22.

Having taken the lead, Bird was soon put under pressure from Mitch Evans – the Jaguar driver eating into his three-second lead over the next few laps. The New Zealander was soon joined by Di Grassi in the hunt for a first place finish, the Audi driver still in search of his first victory of the current campaign.

With four laps to go, Bird resisted Evans’ attempt to pass him. From there, the Brit was able to stretch his lead as Evans – suffering from a drained battery – turned his attention to preserving second place.

Sadly for the Kiwi, he could not hold on. Di Grassi soon picked him off to move into second, and was swiftly followed by Techeetah’s Andre Lotterer, who sealed the final spot on the podium. Evans ended sinking to a ninth-place finish, desperately unfortunate for a driver who had performed so well for most of the race.

Audi’s Daniel Abt finished fourth, one place ahead of championship leader Jean-Eric Vergne, who could only guide his Techeetah car to a fifth-place fifth. Renault e.dams’ Sebastian Buemi completed the race in sixth.

Vergne, a winner in Round 6 in Uruguay’s Punta Del Este, still sits atop the drivers’ championship, though Bird’s victory in Rome now leaves him 18 points behind in second.

Round 8 takes place on April 28, when Paris plays host to the next Formula E action. Berlin and Zurich complete the European leg of this season’s championship before the final double-header of the year in New York City in July.

For more information, check the Formula E website.