Pechito and Bird - DS Virgin's duo for the 2016/2017 Formula E season

  • Jose Maria Pechito Lopez and Sam Bird

DS Virgin Racing announces today that double FIA WTCC World Champion Jose Maria ‘Pechito’ Lopez will partner Sam Bird for the 2016/2017 FIA Formula E season. The 33-year old Argentinean will replace Jean-Eric Vergne. For British driver Sam Bird, it would be a third season with the team in the Formula E Championship, after he finished 5th in the inaugural season and fourth in the 2015/2016 season.

Lopez is a current leader in the 2016 World Touring Car Championship with five more rounds to go. Prior to touring cars, Pechito had a successful single-seater career, so his addition to the DS Virgin Racing line-up has some back-up. Lopez was the champion of the Italian Formula Renault Championship in 2002 and Formula Renault V6 Eurocup in 2003.  His last single-seater competition was GP2 Series in 2006, when he was also a test driver in Renault’s Formula One team.

Alex Tai, DS Virgin Racing Team Principal, said: “I’m absolutely delighted to announce our driver line up for next season and to welcome Jose Maria to the DS Virgin Racing family.  Jose is a proven world champion who has performed at the highest level and shown great speed and consistency in every motorsport discipline that he has competed in. I have every confidence that he will be able to translate that success to Formula E. He will join Sam who, over the last two years, has consistently proven himself to be one of the fastest and most talented drivers on the grid. I am confident the combined strengths of Sam, Jose and our team will be a winning formula within a series requiring high degrees of driver skill, consistency and hard work. An additional attribute is the character of both drivers whose sporting approach importantly mirror my aims in this sport.

The third season of the FIA Formula E Championship will start on October 9, 2016, in Hong Kong.

Photo: DS Virgin Racing

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