Durban: Team Ireland preview

Dublin; February 20th 2007; Durban's Golden Mile is a favourite destination for swimmers and surfers, attracted by the sandy beach and warm Indian Ocean, but this weekend the roar of the surf will be drowned out by the scream of V8 engines and up...

Dublin; February 20th 2007; Durban's Golden Mile is a favourite destination for swimmers and surfers, attracted by the sandy beach and warm Indian Ocean, but this weekend the roar of the surf will be drowned out by the scream of V8 engines and up to 60,000 fans at the South African round of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport. As A1 Team Ireland showed much improved performance in New Zealand and Australia morale in the camp is high, and the feeling is that a breakthrough is not far away for the team and driver Richard Lyons.

The Durban event is the second street race on the calendar, the 3.28km temporary circuit runs clockwise with 11 turns and is a mere 300 meters from the beautiful North Beach. Last years race saw a very strong performance from A1 Team Ireland, with Ralph Firman looking set for a 2nd place finish in the feature race until a broken anti-roll bar after the pit stop forced him to retire. It was the Netherlands who went on to take their well deserved first A1GP victory, after Jos Verstappen passed Switzerland's Neel Jani in the closing laps of a dramatic race.

The narrow track poses a unique challenge and it is one that Ireland's Richard Lyons is relishing. This will be the final race that Richard is eligible for the Friday morning rookie sessions and he's determined to put on a good show for the team and supporters. Richard will continue to be supported by official Reserve Driver John O'Hara, who will resume his rookie duties in Mexico. This will be the third race that Richard, Gary Anderson and John have worked together, and the understanding between drivers and engineer continues to develop and improve.

Richard Lyons: "I've heard all about last year's race in South Africa from the team so I'm sure it's going to be a lot of fun. The rookie session will be important for me; as well as being my first time at this track it is also going to be my first street race. Most importantly, I'm hoping to gain my first A1GP points this weekend."

Gary Anderson, Technical Director: "People have talked about us being unlucky in the last couple of races but I believe you make your own luck. The incident with the Swiss in Australia wasn't our fault, but when you're scrapping for points at the bottom end of the top ten drivers are forced to take more risks and accidents will happen. Our job is to make sure we qualify higher up the order and put ourselves amongst the front runners, if we can achieve this then I'm sure we can start putting some good points on the board."

Mark Gallagher, Team Principal: "The team is really looking forward to returning to Durban. Location wise you can't ask for much more, with an amazing beach just a stones throw from the track. The organisation of the event, both by A1GP and the circuit, was fantastic last year and I was massively impressed with the level of enthusiasm and support from the 100,000 plus people who attended the race over the course of the weekend. We never need any extra motivation to perform, but the fact that the race will be broadcast live by RTE 2 back home can only make us more determined. Gary's arrival has helped us begin to turn our season around, everyone has been working hard and our sponsors have kept the faith through some tough times. We've now got these last four races to win as many points as possible and this would be an ideal place to start."

-credit: team ireland

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About this article
Series A1GP
Drivers Jos Verstappen , Ralph Firman , Richard Lyons , Neel Jani , John O'Hara , Gary Anderson