Great Britain Qualified: 5th , Sprint Race: 5th , Feature Race: DNF, Series Standing: 6th A1 Team Great Britain came away from the first of the twelve event calendar in sixth place in the championship after a weekend of highs and lows....
Great Britain Qualified: 5th , Sprint Race: 5th , Feature Race: DNF, Series Standing: 6th
A1 Team Great Britain came away from the first of the twelve event calendar in sixth place in the championship after a weekend of highs and lows. A steady sprint race led onto a feature race where a win was in sight until mechanical problems intervened. The 18 lap sprint race followed the colourful launch ceremony that marked the season opening with Sheik Maktoum starting the races with the words "Gentlemen -- for the pride of your nations -- start your engines" to great cheers from the British crowd gathered at the Brands Hatch circuit.
After a tough start Kerr managed to be up with Australia competing for fourth place. From there it was a case of staying on the pace and keeping close to the car in front looking for opportunities. Robbie crossed the line only 1.3 seconds behind Australia with a gap of over 8.5 seconds to the next car behind in sixth place.
Robbie Kerr: "I got a good start and battled for fourth place. Unfortunately I had to ease off or I'd have lost the front wing to Australia. I then battled against him for the first couple of laps and hurt the tyres a bit. Then it was just a case of keeping it steady and working with the car."
The feature race was a completely different story. Again the start wasn't easy on the downhill track but by lap two the British car was in third place. By lap three the motorsport take on the Ashes was well underway with Kerr only 0.3 seconds behind and pushing hard. Cars started to pit for their compulsory stop but the three front runners Brazil, Australia and Great Britain stayed out until the deployment of the Safety Car for an incident.
All three cars pitted and the skillful work of A1 Team Great Britain meant that Robbie was first back on the track. The crowd went wild with excitement but drama was to follow when a mechanical problem caused Kerr to coast to a halt at the side of the track. Examinatio
n afterwards showed that the problem was caused by a battery failure. Robbie Kerr: I'm gutted for the guys because they did an awesome job in the pitstop. Came out and we were in front. Sitting behind the safety car getting ready for the restart and it wouldn't change gear. Lifted off the throttle and then everything had gone. We lost places at the start -- gained and lost -- because the start's downhill you've got to hold the brake and I got a bit of a stutter. Got going again cleanly and got my head down and pulling up to Australia easy. Not doing anything stupid.
"Just biding our time, waiting for fuel loads to come down. Then the pitstops happened, got out ahead of Australia and I radioed in to find out where we were. It took them ages to reply -- I don't think they wanted to tell me -- but it came back 'P 1'. Then it happened! The crowds were amazing today. Absolutely brilliant. Every time I went out I could hear the hooters round the track. They were there for us. The support was brilliant and they must be as gutted as I am. It's emotional but one of those things.
"Obviously I'm disappointed -- not to finish is a great opportunity missed but as I've been saying all along we're making progress and we showed that here."
John Surtees, Team Principal: "Obviously the first sentiment is disappointment that we didn't get the car home and more disappointment that at the time that it stopped the car was in the lead. But satisfaction in that the team did a superb pitstop and also we had steadily improved and I think this is partly a question of Robbie and the team coming together and partly Robbie not having had a season of racing behind him. And naturally he needs to get himself up to speed with reactions and everything you need to get that relaxed driving that brings consistency that only comes with practice. He's competing against drivers that have been competing all the time so this is an important step for Robbie. He upped his performance generally. The team came together so we're looking forward to the next race."
The second event in the A1 Grand Prix World Cup of Motorsport takes place on 7th, 8th and 9th October at the Eurospeedway, Germany.