Brands Hatch: Team Ireland preview

Ireland aiming for a strong finish to A1GP series Team aiming to maintain upturn in performance produced by new car Dublin, April 26th 2007; A1 Team Ireland goes into this weekend's A1GP World Cup of Motorsport finale at Brands...

Ireland aiming for a strong finish to A1GP series
Team aiming to maintain upturn in performance produced by new car

Dublin, April 26th 2007; A1 Team Ireland goes into this weekend's A1GP World Cup of Motorsport finale at Brands Hatch with drivers Richard Lyons and John O'Hara aiming for a strong performance in front of the team's 300 VIPs, sponsors and celebrity guests and with the Irish team representing the 2007 'Gumball 3000' event which starts this weekend in London.

After a tough season during which A1 Team Ireland struggled with an uncompetitive car for nine races, the provision of a spare car to the team at the last race in Shanghai, China, produced an instant turn around in performance with Lyons rocketing from 17th place on the grid to finish an eventual 5th in the Feature Race - the team's best Feature Race result since Ralph Firman scored a 3rd placed podium finish in Portugal last season.

The provision of the spare car in China came after qualifying, so this Friday at Brands Hatch will be Reserve and Rookie driver John O'Hara's first opportunity to drive the replacement car in the Rookie Session, the Kildare driver looking forward to the fast sweeps of the Brands Hatch circuit.

For Richard Lyons the Brands Hatch weekend has taken on a new dimension following the result in China two weeks ago, the 27 year old from Hillsborough confident that if the replacement car can continue to provide him with the performance it showed in Shanghai he can net another strong result for the team. Lyons feels that this weekend could be one of the most important of his entire single seater racing career.

"This was already an important race for me and the team, being the closest event to Ireland and on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit which I have raced on before. Aside from that we will have a lot of important guests, family and friends there. Having shown in Shanghai what we can do I think this weekend is a big opportunity and perhaps the most important single seater race of my career. I want to be really competitive all weekend and to race at the sharp end of the field. The team and I have discussed our targets and from the word go we'll be pushing hard. China gave us the momentum we needed coming into this race."

Former Jordan Grand Prix Technical Director Gary Anderson returns to his role as team engineer this weekend and is looking forward to getting his hands on the team's 'new' car.

On the commercial side this weekend is also important for A1 Team Ireland with up to 300 guests attending the race including a large number flying in on a specially chartered flight from Dublin.

Meanwhile the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, A1 Team Ireland and Gumball 3000 have joined forces this weekend, the celebrity-filled international road rally set to start in Central London on Sunday afternoon as 120 exotic cars head off on a one week, high speed tour of 17 countries. As part of the tie-up, A1 Team Ireland will represent Gumball 3000 in the A1GP weekend at Brands Hatch and the team will also have a second car in action when Jason Plato, British Touring Car ace and presenter of TV show Fifth Gear, blasts it through the streets of London on the first stage of the Gumball 3000. The Gumball 3000 entrants include celebrities such as Jamiroquai's Jay Kay, MTV's Pimp My Ride host Xzibity, Football Factory's Danny Dyer and supermodel Jodie Kidd, the some of the cars and entrants will visit Brands Hatch on Saturday, with five selected entries driving the Grand Prix circuit.

Mark Kershaw, Team Owner of A1 Team Ireland, said: "This weekend is key for the team in every way, not only in terms of our all-important performance on the track but also in showing that from a commercial point of view we have come on leaps and bounds since we entered Ireland into the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport. The car will fully sponsored with the logos of key team partners including Harris Hino, LM Developments, BPI Telecom, Manvik, IPB and Palmerstown House, plus the partners of Gumball 3000, but we will also be hosting nearly 300 top level guests - our biggest ever corporate event. The team has worked very hard all season and deserved the result in China two weeks ago. It would be great to have another strong performance on Sunday."

Mark Gallagher, Team Principal, said: "Following the change of circumstances in China and the team's strong showing in that race there is no question we go to Brands Hatch feeling very positive. That it is our closest event to home and a circuit which Richard Lyons and Gary Anderson have successfully worked at before is also good, and in many respects this is probably the biggest, most important event for Team Ireland to date. Twenty months ago we came to Brands Hatch for the start of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport series, and to come back here at the end of season two is an important milestone for the series and the team."

The Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit, a fast, undulating and sweeping track and one of the most famous in world motor sport, is 2.62 miles/4.22 kms long and the A1GP lap record of 1:14.965 is held by Brazil's Nelson Piquet Jr. Practice for A1GP commences at 11am on Friday, with Sunday's Sprint Race at 11am and the main event, the Feature Race, starting at 3pm.

-credit: team ireland

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About this article
Series A1GP
Drivers Ralph Firman , Richard Lyons , Jason Plato , Jay Kay , John O'Hara