It was a weekend of contrasts for Envision Virgin Racing at the Diriyah E-Prix.
Day one got off to a great start, with Envision Virgin Racing’s drivers taking the top two spots in both practice sessions. Sam Bird then went on to secure the first points of the season with the fastest time in Qualifying. This earned him a place in Super Pole, the 15-minute session where the five fastest drivers go out one at a time to set the fastest lap time in competition for Pole Position.
Bird started the race in fifth but quickly moved up the order. He controlled the race from the front and secured the first victory of the season.
Teammate Robin Frijns had a similarly positive first race, gaining seven places during the race to finish in fifth place.
However, after Friday’s celebrations, Saturday brought disappointment to the Envision Virgin Racing camp. In stark contrast to the positive result in the season opener, both drivers were forced to retire during the second race of the season.
Bird was working hard in the first half of the race, having started in sevent on day two. Having made it into fourth position, he was caught up in an incident with Mitch Evans. The two made contact and Bird was forced into the wall, which cut short his race. Evans was subsequently handed a drive through penalty for the move.
Frijns, meanwhile, had climbed his way up five places and looked poised to continue moving further up the field, but lost grip, went off the racing line and made contact with the wall.
“After such a strong day yesterday, a double DNF (did not finish) is a difficult pill to swallow,” Envision Virgin Racing MD Sylvain Filippi said. “Sam’s shown incredible pace throughout this weekend and it’s such a shame that he was taken out of the race as he looked set to take a podium finish. Robin has shown his overtaking skills once again and simply lost the back on a notoriously dirty track off-line. The team is coming out of the weekend with a large points haul still, and we’ll now be looking forward to round three.”
Bird added: “After the high of yesterday, today was a serious blow – it really has been a tale of two halves. Mitch Evans has been penalised for the incident but it’s still massively disappointing, I really believe we were denied another podium in today’s race. Despite today, it’s been a great weekend for the team, and I want to thank everyone for working so hard over the summer and getting us into such a strong position for the start of season six.”
Envision Virgin Racing will be back in action at the Santiago E-Prix in Chile on January 18th. Visit Envision Virgin Racing for all the latest news.