McIntosh scores top-ten finish for Team Canada
Brands Hatch, England (September 25, 2005) -- Sean McIntosh successfully steered Team Canada to a top-ten finish in the main feature race in today's inaugural A1 Grand Prix Series ("A1GP') event at Brands Hatch, England.
The 20-year-old Vancouver native, who drove the Team Canada car for the very first time just six days ago, crossed the checkered flag in ninth place to score Canada's maiden points in the all-new 'World Cup of Motorsport'.
McIntosh, who made his Team Canada debut before a sold-out and enthusiastic Brands Hatch crowd, lined up on the grid this afternoon alongside 24 competing nations ready for the first of the day's races -- the sprint race.
Having made some changes to the set-up of his 520bhp Lola-Zytek, following a disappointing qualifying session where he placed 21st overall, McIntosh headed into the race prepared to tackle his first rolling-start since competing in the US Formula Ford 2000 Series back in 2002.
Despite gaining track position at the start of the race, Sean was forced to wrestle with an ill-handling car while ensuring he kept it on track and out of trouble. A 19th place finish at the flag would mean he would start 19th for the afternoon's main feature -- with just thirty minutes down time between the two A1GP races.
While the sprint race kicked off with a rolling start, the 38-lap feature race commenced with a traditional standing start and Sean capitalized on his Formula Renault UK Championship experiences to get a lightning getaway. As he raced off the line, the stalled car of Team India ahead forced McIntosh to take avoiding action but this failed to stop the Canadian from picking up track position and bypassing some of the carnage at the first turn.
Firmly on a charge and happy with the handling of his car Sean ran as high as sixth following the first ten laps charging round the legendary 1.92km Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit. The feature race's mandatory pit-stop and tire change then saw dart Sean into the pits and the Team Canada crew into action for the first time.
A stuck wheel nut on the right-rear tire halted McIntosh's progress momentarily but a safety car period immediately following his return to the track did the real damage to Sean's charge as it allowed his rivals to pit under caution without losing time.
When racing resumed Sean's second set of rubber allowed him to pick up the pace and he was comfortably posting top-six lap times as the stunning red and white, maple-lead bearing Team Canada car reeled off the closing laps at Brands Hatch.
Team Brazil won the feature race with Nelson Piquet Jr. behind the wheel, the South American's second triumph of the day having captured victory in the earlier sprint race. Sean brought Team Canada home in the points in a respectable ninth place, the last of the drivers on the lead lap!
Looking back on a historic day representing Team Canada Sean said:
"This weekend was always going to be a learning experience, especially heading into Friday's practice sessions with just one shakedown test behind us. That said we finished both races and picked up Team Canada's first A1GP points with a top ten finish.
"The team did a great job all weekend and we now have a platform to work from. We know there's work to be done, not least in exploiting the one-lap qualifying format, but for a first attempt and with our lack of testing we can pleased with our performance here at Brands. It was a great experience and the atmosphere was electric, the grandstands were packed! There were loads of Canadians here as well which was really cool; the support for the series was awesome!"
The A1 Grand Prix Series heads to the EuroSpeedway, Lausitz in Germany for Round 2, 7th-9th October.
Sean returns to Brands Hatch next weekend, 1st-2nd October, for the final two rounds of the 2005 Formula Renault UK Championship. The reigning 'Graduate Cup' Champion and a five-time winner already this season, Sean trails Britain's Oliver Jarvis for the series lead by just 16-points with a maximum of 68 on offer through Rounds 19 and 20.