Sam Bird took victory in the first ever New York ePrix as Lucas di Grassi closed the gap to Sebastien Buemi in the Formula E championship.

Bird made up a position to third in a contact-filled opening lap, but found himself stuck behind rookie team-mate Alex Lynn. Lynn had taken pole for his first ever ePrix, but a poor start allowed Daniel Abt to take the lead of the race.

Bird eventually found a way past Lynn and set out chasing Abt. The German was struggling under braking as the team requested him to focus on regenerating energy, and Bird used that to his advantage. A move up the inside at the hairpin moved Bird into the race lead.

Behind the leaders was a three-way fight for third. Lynn found himself defending against Vergne and Nick Heidfeld. He fell down the order, struggling to manage his energy towards the midpoint of the race, and was the first to pit within the pit stop window. In the second stint, Lynn stopped on track and retired from the race.

Just before the midrace car swap, Vergne moved past Abt into second, with Heidfeld fourth. He stayed on Bird’s tail in the second stint, but couldn’t find a way past his old team-mate. On the final lap of the race, he made a late lunge to pass Bird, but the Virgin stayed ahead, and Vergne crossed the line second.

Abt took third out of the pits, ahead of Stephan Sarrazin, who had jumped up to fourth from seventh.

Felix Rosenqvist and Lucas Di Grassi also jumped through the order in the pitstops, rejoining the race sixth and seventh – Di Grassi ahead of Rosenqvist, but the Mahindra driver managed to pass him on the out lap. A slow stop from Heidfeld put him eighth, sandwiching Di Grassi between the two Mahidnra’s.

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Di Grassi was cautious as he tried to find a way forward, but he kept the pressure on Rosenqvist until the Mahindra driver made a mistake. Rosenqvist locked up on entry to a chicane, span, and hit the wall. He was able to continue, but had to change for a new rear wing, dropping him down the order.

The mistake moved Di Grassi up to fifth, just behind the battling Abt and Sarrazin. On the penultimate lap, Abt out-broke himself, allowing Sarrazin past. As he tried to rejoin the track, he made contact with Di Grassi and dropped down the order, eventually coming to a stop on track on the final lap.

Sarrazin was promoted to third, providing Techeetah with their first double podium. Di Grassi took fourth, closing in to just 20 points behind Seabstien Buemi, absent due to World Endurance Championship commitments.

Heidfeld looked set for sixth, but stopped on track with damaged rear suspension after running over a curb. He brought out the safety car, leaving just two racing laps once his Mahindra was cleared.

Loic Duval, who started 12, took sixth, ahead of Oliver Turvey and Pierre Gasly.

Renault e.dams looked for strong results to keep Buemi’s championship strong in his absence. But a poor qualifying made that harder than expected. Nico Prost started in the middle of the pack, but dropped to last on the opening lap. Gasly started his first ePrix 19th. The pair slowly worked their way up through the order together, taking seventh and eighth.

Robin Frijns and Adam Carroll completed the top 10.

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