Sam Bird won a thrilling London ePrix after on-the-road winner Stephane Sarrazin was penalised for using too much battery energy, while Nelson Piquet Jr was crowned champion after a pulsating race in Battersea Park.
The six points Piquet secured for seventh place over title rival Sebastien Buemi’s 10 for fifth position meant he took the title by a mere point.
An epic climax to the race, after a late safety car to retrieve Fabio Leimer’s crashed Virgin car, ensured that Piquet was able to take advantage.
He went from 10th to ninth when NEXTEV TCR teammate Oliver Turvey let him through. Piquet then made a conclusive move on Salvador Duran at the T15/T16 complex to effectively seal the title by the narrowest of margins.
The title also effectively swung on whether or not Buemi, in sixth place on the final lap, could get ahead of Bruno Senna ahead of him. If he could, then the title would be his.
A valiant effort on the final lap almost saw him push through, but Senna stayed ahead. Buemi had been running in front of him, but half-spun on his out-lap after the car swap.
The remarkable scenes meant that both the championship and the race were still unclear as the cars crossed the finish line, as Stephane Sarrazin – winner on the road – was penalised for over-use of energy. This handed the race victory to Sam Bird, who also claimed fastest lap on 1m26.790s.
The penalty did not affect the championship outcome, however, and Piquet celebrated wildly with his NEXTEV TCR team, once he had been convinced he had taken the inaugural title by one point.
“I don’t know what to say, Jesus, it was such a tough week,” said Piquet. “Starting from where we did and then getting to this position, wow.
“It was very hectic and I pushed as hard as I could. I didn’t even know we had won it and then I saw my team celebrating. We had a perfect strategy and the Safety Car helped us out a little.”
Bird tried to make several moves on Sarrazin in the final two laps, and there were several contacts between them, but Sarrazin appeared to have held on. The Frenchman had gone over his allowed energy usage, finishing the race with 0% left on his gauge which is against the rules.
“I pushed him hard and he ran out of energy and I am so happy with the strategy we had,” said Bird. “Thanks to all the British fans, they have been great. It was a great battle and I am so pleased for the win and the Virgin Racing team.”
Completing the podium was Jerome d’Ambrosio who repeated his runner-up position from yesterday. He headed home Loic Duval, who fought tenaciously with D’Ambrosio and Bird in a frantic fight for what was second on the road in the final 10 laps.
Lucas di Grassi, who had an outside chance of taking the title today, finished in sixth place and ended third in the final points standings.
|1||Sam Bird||Virgin Racing||45m48.792|
|2||Jerome d'Ambrosio||Dragon Racing||45m55.765||6.973|
|3||Loic Duval||Dragon Racing||45m58.222||9.430|
|4||Bruno Senna||Mahindra Racing||45m58.939||10.147|
|5||Sebastien Buemi||e.dams Renault||45m59.481||10.689|
|6||Lucas di Grassi||Audi Sport ABT||45m59.996||11.204|
|7||Nelson Piquet Jr||China Racing||46m00.353||11.561|
|8||Salvador Duran||Amlin Aguri||46m01.194||12.402|
|9||Oliver Turvey||China Racing||46m02.934||14.142|
|10||Nicolas Prost||e.dams Renault||46m03.327||14.535|
|11||Daniel Abt||Audi Sport ABT||46m11.962||23.170|
|12||Simona de Silvestro||Andretti Autosport||46m13.402||24.610|
|13||Karun Chandhok||Mahindra Racing||46m20.293||31.501|
|16||Jean-Eric Vergne||Andretti Autosport||44m45.507