AF Corse driver Sam Bird is one of a number of FIA WEC drivers who will race in the inaugural Formula E round in New York, and skip the 2017 6H Nürburgring next month. AF Corse has announced that he will be replaced by Toni Vilander in the #71 Ferrari 488.
In Formula E, Bird races with DS Virgin Racing, who he will be driving with in the USA. By skipping the FIA WEC round in Germany, he will forfeit a chance to win the GTE Pro Drivers’ World Championship, in which he currently sits third with teammate Davide Rigon, 14 points off the lead.
“With the first ever FIA sanctioned motor sport event to be held in New York, Formula E is continuing to push the boundaries and break new ground, and it’s exciting to be part of that,” said Bird. “I know we’ll put on a great show for the people of New York and I’m expecting big crowds to turn up on both days. Being a double race event, there’s a huge amount at stake for all the teams and the drivers so it’s definitely one to watch.”
DS Vigrin Racing team principal Alex Tai added: “Sam has contested every one of the team’s 29 race starts so of course we are delighted to have him in New York and maintain that consistency for the team.”
For Vilander it’s his first race in the WEC since the 6 Hours of Bahrain back in 2015; when he also raced with AF Corse.
“I’m happy to be able to return to the FIA WEC with the 488 GTE of AF Corse”, Toni Vilander stated. “This is my chance to cancel the disappointment of the 24 Hours of Le Mans as soon as possible. #71 is in the top places of the championship standings, and I will give all I have to achieve the best possible result at Nürburgring, to help Ferrari in the Manufacturers’ Championship and Davide Rigon in the Drivers’ ranking”.
Meanwhile, Bird’s teammate Jose Maria Lopez will not make the trip to the USA, the Argentinian prioritising racing with Toyota Gazoo Racing in LMP1 that weekend.