Beijing: Team Canada race report

Chinese double score for A1 Team Canada's Hinchcliffe Sunday November 12, 2006 -- A1 Team Canada's James Hinchcliffe endured a fast but frustrating third round of the 2006-07 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport in Beijing, China Sunday as the...

Chinese double score for A1 Team Canada's Hinchcliffe

Sunday November 12, 2006 -- A1 Team Canada's James Hinchcliffe endured a fast but frustrating third round of the 2006-07 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport in Beijing, China Sunday as the 19-year-old from Toronto added to the team's points tally with fourth and tenth place finishes in the Sprint and Feature races with the fastest race lap, and bonus point, also going to the Canadian charger.

With the grid for Sunday morning's 20-minute Sprint race based on Saturday's limited practice session, following vital track modifications to the Beijing street circuit, Hinchcliffe found himself taking the start in fourth. The tight nature of the Jingkai track in the Olympic city was never going to lend itself to spectacular overtaking and as expected the Sprint race proved to be a static affair as the 22 Nation field finally unleashed their identical 550bhp V8-powered A1GP racing machines. Hinchcliffe held fourth to score three more points for Canada, his third straight points-scoring performance, with pole-sitter Jeroen Bleekemolen winning for A1 Team Netherlands ahead of Mexico's Salvador Duran and Italy's Enrico Toccacelo.

The Feature race saw Hinchcliffe climb into podium contention early in proceedings, taking the third spot as the Mexican entry floundered. As soon as the pit window opened on lap 20 the front-runners pitted with the exception of Canada who opted to stay out and build up an advantage over the rest of the field. Unfortunately for Hinchcliffe, almost as soon as he assumed the lead two safety car periods in quick succession denied him the opportunity to streak too far away or similarly pit for a fresh set of tires. When the track finally returned to green James put pedal to the metal but the advantage lay with Holland in fourth having already stopped followed by a string of similarly placed cars. This failed to halt Hinchcliffe's stunning pace demonstration and he duly set the fastest lap of the race on lap 39.

Finally relinquishing the lead on lap 50, the end of the pit window, James pitted and rejoined 11th. He quickly climbed to eighth and with some final drama he was looking good to rebound and score a potential top-five finish following the retirements of Holland, Germany and Malaysia until he in turn found himself hitting the wall following a close last-lap dice with France's Nicolas Lapierre. Classified tenth at the checkered flag, with a point for position and another for fastest lap, there was some consolation for the young Canadian after another eventful A1GP race. Enrico Toccacelo scored the Feature win for Italy, in doing so becoming the fifth nation this season to triumph, with Great Britain's Oliver Jarvis in second and Australia's Karl Reindler wrapping the podium celebrations in third.

"I'm super disappointed," stated Hinchcliffe at the end of the Feature. "It was a good race and we're unfortunate to be in the position, like Brno last time out, where we led lots of laps but haven't finished on the podium. I really had the hammer down to try and build an advantage but we were caught out by the safety periods. I thought France had a problem at the end and was letting me go as I ran wide but he started to race me again and I found myself out on the marbles and into the wall. It's frustrating but overall we showed great pace today and that's encouraging for the future!"

Round 4 of the 2006-07 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport takes place in two weeks time, Friday 24th -- Sunday 26th November, at the Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia -- www.a1gp.com

-credit: www.a1teamcan.com

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Series A1GP
Drivers Jeroen Bleekemolen , Salvador Duran , Nicolas Lapierre , Oliver Jarvis , James Hinchcliffe , Karl Reindler