Durban: Sprint race report

Durban -- The A1 cars sped off the grid a little later than scheduled this afternoon after crowds in a restricted area forced A1 Race Director, Tim Schenken to delay the start. Excitement built in the packed grandstands which currently line the ...

Durban -- The A1 cars sped off the grid a little later than scheduled this afternoon after crowds in a restricted area forced A1 Race Director, Tim Schenken to delay the start. Excitement built in the packed grandstands which currently line the streets of Durban and as the pace car pulled off for the race's rolling start, the action began immediately.

On the approach to turn one, the bright orange car of the Netherlands slotted in between France and Great Britain, challenging for second place while further down the grid Indonesia and Italy collided bringing out the safety car and pushing the two teams into early retirement.

Great Britain's Robbie Kerr held his position but as he made his move on France heading into turn nine, he locked the front wheels giving space for both the Netherlands and Czech Republic to pass. Clipping a curb lost A1 Team Malaysia's Alex Yoong his front wing and space on the grid he pitted to repair the damage.

As the safety car, caused by the turn one incident, came in at the end of lap five, A1 Team France was leading with the Netherlands, Czech Republic and Great Britain following closely behind. A drive through penalty was given to A1 Team USA for overtaking Portugal in the safety car period, taken at the end of lap seven.

The racing continued but disappointment was visible amid the crowd as Vulindlela, the car of the home team, pulled into the pits at the end of lap 10 with electrical failure. A1 Team South Africa got straight to work and the car will be back out on the grid for the start of the Feature race.

It was the final stages of the Sprint race when the action climaxed beginning when Nelson Piquet Jr of A1 Team Brazil clipped the inside wall on the hairpin, taking a spin in the early stages of lap 17. China was the next to go, again spinning into the middle of the track where Lebanon, following closely behind, collided with the red dragon taking both cars out of the race.

With the Netherlands sitting on the tail of the leading French, Jos Verstappen seized the opportunity to make his move in the final stages of the last lap. Pulling alongside the race leader on the approach to turn nine, Verstappen went wide, clipping France's rear wing and puncturing his own left rear tyre putting him out of the race. 'The chance was there but I ran a little bit too wide. When the chance is there you go for it and that's what I did!' Verstappen said.

After narrowly avoiding the spinning Dutch car, Great Britain's Robbie Kerr took his turn at challenging for pole but the chequered flag dropped with Great Britain just two tenths of a second behind the pole sitter.

Race winner, A1 Team France's Alexandre Premat said: 'I was obviously lucky not to have had a problem when Jos Verstappen tried to overtake me on the last lap. Luckily my car is perfectly okay and now I have to concentrate on making a good start in the Feature race and then stay in front.'

Gaining from the failed Dutch challenge, Great Britain's Robbie Kerr continued: 'That was close. Jos had to have a go and it was unfortunate the cars hit and it put him out. Second position is not one to be chucked away by trying anything.'

-a1gp-

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About this article
Series A1GP
Drivers Jos Verstappen , Alex Yoong , Nelson Piquet , Robbie Kerr , Alexandre Prémat , Tim Schenken