A1GP Heads East to Brno for Round Two Following a thrilling season-opener at Zandvoort, which saw South Africa's Adrian Zaugg storm to a sensational Sprint race victory and Great Britain's Oliver Jarvis take his second Feature race win, A1GP...
A1GP Heads East to Brno for Round Two
Following a thrilling season-opener at Zandvoort, which saw South Africa's Adrian Zaugg storm to a sensational Sprint race victory and Great Britain's Oliver Jarvis take his second Feature race win, A1GP World Cup of Motorsport heads to Brno circuit in the Moravia region of the Czech Republic for round two of the 10-event series on 12-14 October.
A1 Team Czech Republic's Erik Janis put in strong qualifying and race performances on his A1GP race debut in The Netherlands. The rookie driver scored his first championship point in the Zandvoort Feature race and the 20-year-old from Olomouc is looking forward to taking part in his first major home event this weekend:
'I cannot wait! I have never done such a big race at home, so I am really looking forward to it. It is still not one hundred per cent that I will drive but whatever happens I will do my best even in the rookies. I know that there will be extra pressure not only on me but also on the team but we hope to translate it in a positive way. I do not think that I will have any advantage thanks to good track knowledge because I have never driven the A1GP car there and many competitors raced there last year, but at least my adaptation should be easier because I know the track well. I do not want to make any promises - we will continue in the humble approach that served us well at Zandvoort. I learned a lot in both races there and I want to use this knowledge. I hope that many people will come to cheer our team and for sure I will have a lot of friends there. Olomouc, where I have been living since my birth, is just about 60 km away from Brno, so it is easy to come.'
Janis will take part in the rookie session on Friday but Antonin Charouz, A1 Team Czech Republic seat holder, has not yet decided which of his three drivers will be racing on Sunday:
'We are all looking forward to our home race and our priorities are to put on an overall good show for all fans and it would be nice to add a good result too. We hope to see full grandstands! We still have not decided about who is going to drive the races. Erik Janis will do the rookies. He did a really good job in his debut at Zandvoort but the home race brings a lot of pressure and expectations. It is always tough to have the weight of the whole nation on your shoulder it does not matter how many races you have under your belt. Tomas Enge is far more experienced and this is invaluable in such events but he has had some problems with his arm that he injured at the beginning of the season, so we will see how he feels next week. Maybe we will decide at the very last moment.'
A1 Team South Africa arrives at Brno with a nine-point lead over Great Britain in the 2007/08 championship and Adrian Zaugg, Zandvoort Sprint race winner and Feature race runner up, hopes to continue South Africa's dominance of the season:
'Zandvoort was a stunning event for us and I'm looking forward to carrying that momentum forward to the next round at Brno. I drove there in 2004 in Formula BMW so I have some knowledge of the circuit which should give us a bit of an advantage.'
Great Britain also got its season off to a superb start with a win and seventh place, and Robbie Kerr is confident the team will have another strong weekend at Brno:
'I'm delighted that A1 Team GBR's title-bid got off to such a good start in Zandvoort -- Olly and the team did a fantastic job. I'm confident that our strong form will continue in Brno and am really looking forward to racing the British A1GP car again. Brno's a circuit I enjoy as it's a real drivers' circuit and encourages close racing. Last year we unfortunately lost our fastest lap time in qualifying dropping us to the fifth row of the grid which was disappointing, so we're definitely going there to have a better showing than last year and show our true pace, with our main aim being to score some serious points!'
Malaysia's Alex Yoong, who now stands alone as the most experienced driver in A1GP with 42 caps, won both the Sprint and Feature race at Brno last year and, despite a tough start to the season, the 31-year-old from Kuala Lumpur remains upbeat about his team's chances of repeating last year's double victory:
'Last year we finished Zandvoort with zero points too. So we go to Brno to try and do the same job that we did last year and come back with a lot of points. We can use last year's set-up but I'm anticipating that the set-up will only be in the ball park of where we will need to be. There will always be a little bit of fine tuning. You can't just put a magic set-up on it and hope everything is ok. Everyone is improving in this field and you have to keep up. But yes, we're quite confident for Brno.'
Northern Ireland's Adam Carroll will be making his long-awaited A1GP debut this weekend as he takes over from Ralph Firman at A1 Team Ireland. The 24-year-old GP2 racer from Portadown can't wait to get behind the wheel of the emerald-green car:
'I'm a racing driver so my aim is simply to win races and challenge for championships. In A1GP I have the additional motivation of representing Ireland and I'll be giving it 100% to make sure we get to the top step of the podium. I've been very impressed with the team that has been put together for the season and our testing pace has shown that we should be racing at the sharp end of the field.'
Five drivers made their A1GP debut at Zandvoort and Brazil's Sergio Jimenez clearly enjoyed his first experience of the World Cup of Motorsport:
'It was an amazing feeling to drive at Zandvoort knowing that the incredible crowds were there to watch us, A1GP, as the main event. I enjoyed the event a lot and have never raced in that kind of atmosphere before. It compares with the crowds that go to watch F1, and that makes me very proud to have been a part of it driving for A1 Team Brazil.'
Indonesia's Satrio Hermanto, who also made his first A1GP race start at the Dutch circuit, added:
'Zandvoort was fantastic. Everything was new to me as it was my first weekend racing in the A1GP series. I was a bit overawed with the occasion, especially on race day when there was so much noise and so many people. It really added to the excitement and enjoyment for me. I loved racing in front of the huge crowd, although once I was in the car, I was totally focused on my own performance. Brno will be a little easier as I now know what to expect and can be more prepared. In between the races I've been working really hard on my fitness as I found I was tiring towards the end of the races. I'll proudly represent Indonesia in the Czech Republic.'
A1 Team Lebanon's Khalil Beschir did not race at the season-opener but is eager to get behind the wheel at Brno:
'I haven't raced in A1GP for nearly a year, so I'm very excited about the prospect of returning to the race seat in Brno. I tested at the circuit a few years ago, so I have some track knowledge which I hope will help us. I was with the team at the Brno event last season and it's a track that produced some great racing action; I'm looking forward to being part of it this time, as well as enjoying the superb hospitality of the Czech people.'
The A1GP Brno, Czech Republic event runs from 12-14 October, kicking off with the rookie driver and developing nations' sessions on Friday from 11.00 to 11.25 and again from 11.35 to 12.00. All 22 teams can take part in the later practice session from 14.00 to 15.00. Final practice and qualifying for the Sprint and Feature race will take place on Saturday with the two races scheduled to run on Sunday at 11.00 and 15.00 respectively.
Thursday PR activity: The trio of Czech Republic drivers will be taking part in a press conference and photo shoot on a train journey from Prague to Brno along with Brazil's Emerson Fittipaldi and Jan Lammers from the Netherlands, plus 22 Miss A1GP Brno nominees. On arrival at Brno station, there will be a press conference for the Moravian media, followed by a city centre presentation in Svoboda square, an A1GP drivers' parade in Corvettes and Cadillacs, and a visit to the Town Hall to meet the mayor of Brno. Drivers from the following nations will be taking part in the afternoon event: Great Britain, South Africa, Malaysia, Indonesia, Italy and Australia.
About Brno circuit: Brno circuit as it stands today, situated near Kyvalka, 16km from downtown Brno, actually replaces a much older circuit which first hosted racing in the 1930s. A few significant changes to the track were made when race meetings resumed after the Second World War, including a shortening of the track and a change of direction. Motorcycle racing, which was to prove a large part of the circuit's culture, began in 1950. The last race on the old circuit took place in 1986. A brand new chapter began at the circuit when a new track was built, just 10km from the old pits. The exciting new track, with fast corners and long straights, presents ideal overtaking opportunities for the A1GP race cars.
Track length: 5.40 km (3.36 miles)
Lap record: 1m 47.296s, recorded by Alex Yoong, A1 Team Malaysia, October 2006