Durban: Team Canada preview

Hinchcliffe and Lacroix Set to Hit the Streets of Durban Wednesday 21 February, 2007 -- With street racing forming in integral part of North American open-wheel racing, A1 Team Canada pilots James Hinchcliffe and Kevin Lacroix head to Durban, ...

Hinchcliffe and Lacroix Set to Hit the Streets of Durban

Wednesday 21 February, 2007 -- With street racing forming in integral part of North American open-wheel racing, A1 Team Canada pilots James Hinchcliffe and Kevin Lacroix head to Durban, South Africa for this weekend's eighth round of the 2006-07 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, 23rd-25th February, eager to demonstrate their abilities on the 3.28km temporary street course.

Quebec's Kevin Lacroix gets to savor the demands of the tight, twisting track layout first on Friday morning as he takes the reigns of the 550bhp, V8-powered Canadian A1GP entry for the hour-long Rookie-Only Session. The 17-year-old from Saint-Eustache makes his series debut this weekend, handling rookie duties in Durban before handing over to Toronto's James Hinchcliffe who'll participate in Sunday's Sprint and Feature races having steered the team to seven top-ten finishes this season.

Lacroix's South African outing marks just his second time behind the wheel of an A1GP car having previously tested with the Canadian team last July in the United Kingdom. Graduating from his 200bhp Star Mazda racer, Kevin impressed and proved to be a fast learner, a factor that could be crucial to the team's competitiveness this weekend where both Canadian drivers are new to the North Beach circuit. Lacroix followed up his A1GP test last summer by claiming the runner-up spot in the Star Mazda Championship earning 'Rookie of the Year' honours in the process.

Having ended his last showing for A1 Team Canada parked upside down in a gravel trap at Australia's Eastern Creek International Raceway in Round 7 earlier this month, James Hinchcliffe proved there were no side-effects to his spectacular lap one barrel-roll by heading back to America to dominate two-days of pre-season testing in the Champ Car Atlantic Championship in Texas.

Hinchcliffe is confident of a strong showing this time round in Durban, not least as he set the fastest lap of the race in Round 3 last November in the only other street circuit on the current A1GP schedule, the Jingkai facility in Beijing, China.

"I love the challenge of street racing," he declared. "The nature of these tracks means you have to be on it all the time and Durban's going to be no different. You can't underestimate the importance of qualifying at a street circuit so there's probably a little extra pressure to perform well on Saturday to give ourselves the best shot at winning come Sunday."

"I'm really looking forward to Friday's track time," said Lacroix ahead of his A1GP debut. "This is a great opportunity for me and I can't wait to drive the A1GP car again knowing that my input will play a part in the team's overall competitiveness for the rest of the weekend. I know I'll be left wanting more, as the rookie session's only an hour, but I'll make the most of it and do my bit for the team!"

-credit: team canada

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