Canada's Frustrations Continue as Hinchcliffe Collected in Durban Sunday 25 February, 2007 -- The unpredictable nature of street racing was evidenced Sunday in South Africa as A1 Team Canada frustratingly failed to score points for the second ...
Canada's Frustrations Continue as Hinchcliffe Collected in Durban
Sunday 25 February, 2007 -- The unpredictable nature of street racing was evidenced Sunday in South Africa as A1 Team Canada frustratingly failed to score points for the second straight A1GP race meeting. Round 8 of the 2006-07 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, hosted on a 3.28km temporary street course in Durban's North Beach district, yielded few positives for Toronto's James Hinchcliffe as a 13th place Sprint race finish was followed by retirement on the opening lap of the Feature following contact from Indonesia's entry.
Having failed to score last time out in Australia, the team's challenges in South Africa were notable after a lowly 20th place qualifying effort on Saturday. With overtaking notoriously difficult on street courses, not least on one as tight as the Durban layout, Hinchcliffe's first test Sunday was to improve his grid position for the afternoon's Feature race with a strong finish in the 20-minute Sprint.
A decent start and the expected race attrition allowed the 20-year-old Champ Car Atlantic standout to climb to 13th at the checkered while Germany's Nico Hulkenberg led from start to finish to wrap up his fifth straight victory, equaling the record set last season by France's Alexandre Premat for most number of A1GP wins with seven. Behind the German, Loic Duval claimed second for the French team with New Zealand's Matt Halliday rounding out the Sprint race podium celebrations.
Hinchcliffe's hopes of a better showing, and a top-ten points paying finish, were quickly dashed for the second consecutive Feature event as he was taken out on the opening lap although less spectacularly than his barrel rolling exit from Round 7's race in Australia. James' initial concern related to a clutch problem on the grid, the Canadian careful not to stall for the Feature race's customary standing start.
While he launched himself cleanly off the line, he was speared from behind by Ananda Mikola in the Indonesian entry under braking into the first turn. With terminal damage to the car Hinchcliffe was forced to retire from a race which would go on to see just seven cars finish on the lead lap.
Nico Hulkenberg continued his domination of the series for Germany, the teenager scoring his sixth consecutive win and record-setting eighth from 16 starts. Great Britain's Robbie Kerr captured his first Feature race podium since Round 5 in Malaysia with a fighting second over New Zealand's Matt Halliday, the Kiwi continuing to set the pace shown by his compatriot Jonny Reid in previous rounds.
"You have to be smart when street racing,' stated Hinchcliffe. "Unfortunately after I made a decent start, despite some clutch problems, the Indonesian guy just ran too deep into the turn and whacked me -- race over. The car was much better today and with the attrition rate in the Feature I'm sure we could have scored some much needed points. It wasn't to be here so hopefully Mexico will be kinder!"
Round 9 of the 2006-07 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport sees a trip across the Atlantic to Mexico City and the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Friday 23rd -- Sunday 25th March.