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Lopez joins DS Virgin as Vergne switches to Techeetah in Formula E

2015-2016 FIA Formula E Championship

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA - FEBRUARY 6: In this handout image supplied by Formula E, Jose Maria Lopez (WTCC Champion, Citreon), prepares to take over from Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA), DS Virgin Racing DSV-01, in the event that Vergne is too ill to drive, during the Buenos Aires Formula E race at Puerto Madero Street Circuit on February 6, 2016 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Photo by Sam Bloxham/LAT/Formula E via Getty Images)

Formula E via Getty Images

DS Virgin Racing has announced that Jose Maria Lopez will replace the Techeetah-bound Jean-Eric Vergne for the third FIA Formula E season.

Lopez is a two-time WTCC champion with Citroen, the parent company of DS Automobiles, and looks set to claim a third title in 2016 before the French manufacturer quits the series.

Lopez was in Buenos Aires for the Formula E weekend back in February and expressed an interest in racing in the series in the future.

The Argentinian driver was almost drafted in to replace Vergne after the Frenchman came down with food poisoning, only to recover in time for qualifying at Puerto Madero.

With Vergne confirming his long-expected exit from DS Virgin last weekend in London, the team has wasted little time in announcing Lopez as his replacement.

“This is a really exciting move for me and I’m looking forward to the challenge of Formula E with DS Virgin Racing,” Lopez said.

“I have already had some experience working with the DS Performance team on the season three car, so I am confident that we can achieve great things together next season.

“As a championship, Formula E is going from strength to strength and I’m particularly looking forward to going back to Buenos Aires where the team had such great success last season!”

Lopez will race alongside Sam Bird, who is confirmed for a third season with Virgin.

“This season has been another positive step forward and I really believe that DS Virgin Racing is going places,” Bird said.

“We showed consistent pace in the second half of the season and if we can convert that into more race wins, then we should have a car that is capable of challenging for the championship next season.

“I feel at home with the team and really can’t wait to see what next season has in store.”

Vergne confirmed on Monday that he would be racing for the new Techeetah team in the 2016-17 season, which takes over from Team Aguri after fresh investment from Chinese sports marketing and management company SECA.

“Really happy to announce that I will be driving for the new Techeetah team, really strong team and car so I’ll be able to fight for more podiums, wins and some more Mumm [champagne] tasting!” Vergne wrote on Instagram.

“Thank you all for your support and see you next season for a really strong one!!”

Vergne will be joined at Techeetah by Ma Qinghua, who made his Formula E debut in Paris with Team Aguri as a pre-cursor to the takeover.

Follow @LukeSmithF1