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Motor racing-Bird maintains his winning record in Saudi Arabia

(Reuters) - Britain’s Sam Bird won a red-flagged Formula E night race in Saudi Arabia on Saturday to maintain his record as the only driver to triumph in every year of the electric series’ existence.

The Jaguar driver, who switched from Envision Virgin Racing at the end of last season, beat former team mate and pole-sitter Robin Frijns by 2.194 seconds around the floodlit Diriyah street circuit near Riyadh.

Twice champion Jean-Eric Vergne finished third for DS Techeetah but was handed a 24 second post-race penalty and demoted to 12th, with team mate and reigning champion Antonio Felix da Costa taking the final podium place.

The race, following on from Friday’s season-opener, ended three minutes early after a safety car period following an accident involving Mahindra’s British driver Alex Lynn, who was conscious but taken to hospital for checks.

Bird’s victory, in his seventh season, was the 10th of his career and first with Jaguar.

“I was a bit emotional in the car, it was a big step for me leaving what was my family at Envision,” said Bird, who retired from Friday’s opener. “I didn’t know what to expect at the beginning but I’ve come into a fantastic team.”

Mercedes, winners on Friday with Dutch driver Nyck de Vries, and Venturi sat out qualifying after Venturi’s Swiss driver Edoardo Mortara crashed heavily at the end of third practice.

Monaco-based Venturi use the same powertrain as Mercedes and the cars were held in the garage as officials investigated the cause of the crash.

Both teams were allowed to race after Mercedes fixed an incorrect software parameter that had prevented the rear brake system from activating properly.

While Mortara was cleared to race after hospital checks, Venturi were unable to rebuild his car in time and he failed to start.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, Editing by Hugh Lawson and Ken Ferris

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