Sam Bird controlled the 2016 Buenos Aires ePrix to record a lights-to-flag victory for DS Virgin Racing, holding off a charging Sebastien Buemi, who came from 18th to second.
The Brit led from start to finish but came under late pressure from Renault e.Dams driver Buemi, who despite starting last on the grid following a mistake in qualifying, recovered to extend his championship lead over Lucas Di Grassi, who completed the podium.
Venturi’s Stephane Sarrazin finished a further 10 seconds adrift in fourth, ahead of Nico Prost, who suffered from a slow pit-stop and a mid-race spin. Dragon Racing’s Loic Duval took sixth ahead of Nick Heidfeld and Amlin Andretti’s Robin Frijns.
Oliver Turvey recorded points for NEXTEV TCR in ninth, while Bruno Senna rounded out the top 10 in his Mahindra M2ELECTRO, completing a two-car finish inside the points for the Indian backed squad.
Bird held his advantage off the line to lead the field into Turn 1, as the top three retained grid order by the end of the first lap. Jerome D’Ambrosio was an early visitor to the pits with smoke pouring out of the rear of his Dragon Racing VM200-FE-01.
Buemi had stormed up to 14th place by the end of Lap 1, and his charge through the field rapidly continued, with the championship leader moving into the points by Lap 10. Di Grassi was another fast mover in a frantic opening to the 35-lap race, breaking into the top four by Lap 5 following early overtakes on Sarrazin and Frijns.
While Bird maintained his slim advantage at the front, a four way battle over the lead developed, as Antonio Felix da Costa, who won last year’s race, pulled off a decisive move on Prost at Turn 1 to take second place. Moments later on Lap 18, Felix da Costa brought out yellow flags as his Team Aguri SRT01-e ground to a sudden halt.
The pit-stop window opened on the same lap with Di Grassi following Prost into the pit-lane nose-to-tail. Bird returned from his car swap in the lead, while Prost lost out and dropped as low as eighth, aided by a spin at Turn 4.
Di Grassi was one to gain during the stops, as he jumped up two places into second, ahead of Sarrazin and Buemi. Felix Da Costa’s abandoned car signalled the deployment of the safety car, just as Buemi shaped up to make a move on Sarrazin for third place.
Three laps later racing resumed, with Bird darting clear of the field thanks to an excellent re-start. Buemi’s superb progress through the field continued as he broke into the top three with a routine pass along the start/finish straight on Sarrazin, completing the move before Turn 1.
The top three pulled clear of Sarrazin in fourth, while his Venturi team-mate and Formula E debutant Mike Conway dropped out of the points following a mistake. In the final 10 laps Bird, Di Grassi and Buemi bunched up, setting up a grandstand finish.
Buemi lunged up the inside of his main title challenger Di Grassi on Lap 28 and set about chasing down race-leader Bird, but the latter held firm with a brilliant defensive drive to convert pole into victory and take his third win in Formula E.