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Vergne bounces back with victory in Sanya

Jean-Eric Vergne claimed his first victory of the season after a dramatic end to the inaugural Sanya E-Prix.

After spending most of the race stuck behind pole sitter Oliver Rowland, Vergne made a late lunge to take the position 20 minutes before the chequered flag. He immedietly flew away from Rowland, who was now defending against Antonio Felix Da Costa.

Vergne’s gap was reduced to nothing when the red flag was brought out just a few laps later.

The top six drivers had been running nose to tail most of the race, and Vergne’s move triggered disruption in the train behind him. At the back of the train was Andre Lotterer, who made a move past Alexander Sims, squeezing the BMW driver into the wall.

Sims came to a stop on track with a lot of damage to his car.

After a short delay, the race resumed with 12 minutes on the clock. Vergne once again pulled away from the rest of the field and had a gap of 1.7s when by the penultimate lap.

The race ended under full course yellows after Robin Frijns collided with Lucas Di Grassi on the penultimate lap. The Virgin driver had been defending hard against Sebastien Buemi, who started from the pit lane after being disqualified from the Super Pole shoot out. Buemi and Frijns made contact, pushing Frijns forward and sending him into the back of Di Grassi as the Audi turned for a corner.

Di Grassi was sent into a spin, damaging the Audi and leaving him stranded on track, while Frijns was able to return to the pits.

The incident promoted Buemi to sixth, though he is under investigation for a number of incidents.

Rowland held onto second to take the first podium of his Formula E career in only his second points finish. Da Costa had gotten alongside Rowland just after the pole sitter lost the race lead, but Rowland defended hard. The pair made contact, damaging Da Costa’s nose, but the BMW driver was able to continue and the nose was changed under the red flags.

He finished third, ahead of Lotterer, who also ended the race under investigation, and Daniel Abt.

Mahindra’s Jerome D’Ambrosio and Pascal Wehrlein stayed out of trouble to cross the line eighth and ninth, with Edoardo Mortara rounding out the top 10.

 

Bethonie Waring

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