Lynn takes up full-time seat at DS Virgin Racing

Speedcafe.com

Wednesday 6th September, 2017 - 8:56am

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Alex Lynn pic: DS Virgin Racing

Alex Lynn will step up to a full-time drive at DS Virgin Racing in the 2017-18 Formula E season, replacing Jose Maria Lopez.

Lynn joined the team earlier this year as a reserve driver and made his Formula E debut when Lopez’s Toyota World Endurance Championship duties clashed with the New York event.

The ex-Williams Formula 1 development driver took pole at his first attempt in the category but had to retire from both races.

He has since been promoted as part of a “multi-year” deal, while British compatriot Sam Bird stays with the team for a fourth season.

“I am over the moon at being promoted to a full-time drive with the DS Virgin Racing Formula E team,” said Lynn.

“Having worked very closely with them since January, it has been a genuine pleasure to learn from such a fantastic group of high quality engineers and to integrate myself into their set-up.

“I would specifically like to thank (team principal) Alex Tai for not only giving me the chance to make my series debut in New York, but for subsequently promoting me to this full-time race seat.

“I intend to fully repay everyone’s faith in me on track next season.”

Bird has won five races with DS Virgin, and is the only driver other than title winners Sebastien Buemi and Lucas di Grassi to be victorious in each FE season.

He finished fourth in the drivers’ championship last season, and took a rare FE double in the pair of New York races.

“Last season saw us take some big steps forward in terms of pace and energy management – as our double victory in New York showed – and I know the team has been working hard on maintaining this competitive edge,” said Bird.

“I’m looking forward to further success in season four and to be partnering with Alex who will no doubt prove to be a real asset to the team.”

Lynn’s promotion to a full-time race seat means Lopez may have to spend the next FE season on the sidelines.

Lopez scored two podiums in a rapid but erratic rookie campaign, and a recent report in the Argentine’s home country alleged a breakdown in his relationship with Tai.

Alongside Lynn’s confirmation, Tai and DS performance director Xavier Mestelan Pinon thanked Lopez for his 2016/17 efforts, with Pinon highlighting his “valuable technical feedback”.

Though Lopez has previously indicated a desire to stay in the series, only a handful of seats are understood to still be available and those options are with non-race-winning teams like Venturi and Andretti.

Lopez’s WEC programme beyond the end of 2017 is also uncertain, with Toyota yet to commit its stay in the wake of that championship’s only other manufacturer Porsche withdrawing at the end of the year.

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