A1 Team Pakistan unlucky in Durban Having promised so much, the A1GP Durban, South Africa turned into a disappointing event for A1 Team Pakistan and Adam Khan. Having shown great pace in practice and qualifying the team had high hopes, but ...
A1 Team Pakistan unlucky in Durban
Having promised so much, the A1GP Durban, South Africa turned into a disappointing event for A1 Team Pakistan and Adam Khan. Having shown great pace in practice and qualifying the team had high hopes, but today's Sprint and Feature races were action packed affairs which turned out to be races of attrition. The Durban race track lived up to its fearsome reputation, with numerous crashes, safety car periods and both races ending under a red flag. Having finished 12th in the Sprint race, Pakistan were involved in a multi-car incident in the Feature race which resulted in retirement.
Having put in a strong performance in qualifying, the team were due to line up 15th for the Sprint race. However, A1 Team India - who had qualified 9th - were put to the back of the grid following a late driver change, elevating Pakistan to 14th on the grid.
Featuring the traditional rolling start, the 22 A1GP cars thundered towards the first corner as the Sprint race got underway. As various cars made contact and sustained damage, Khan stayed out of trouble and made up one place to cross the line 13th at the end of the first lap. A lap later, the Pakistan car was passed by the French car and was back in 14th place. One of many cars to hit the wall, Brazil was one of the first teams to crash out, elevating Pakistan to 13th place. That accident also brought out the safety car for a number of laps while officials cleared the stranded car. With only a few minutes remaining, the race was restarted. Determined to make up further places, Khan took advantage of the restart to put in a great move to pass the USA car and crossed the line in 13th place. A controversial move by A1 Team Germany in the closing stages of the race later resulted in exclusion from the final standings, with Pakistan therefore taking 12th place.
As tensions rose ahead of the 70 minute Feature race, Pakistan took their place in 14th place on the grid. As the lights went out, the A1GP cars hurtled towards the tight hairpin bend that makes up turn one. As a number of cars failed to make the tight turn, Pakistan was caught up in the unfolding melee and hit from behind by the host nation, South Africa. Managing to rejoin the field, having received assistant from track officials and pitted for a new nose cone, the Pakistan car lay 17th.
At the restart, the German car was pushed into a spin at the first corner, blocking the outside line. Khan, looking good to pass a number of cars, headed around the outside of the corner, only to find the German car blocking the track. Braking to avoid the stranded car, Khan was hit by Indonesia behind, and in a concertina effect, a number of cars were left stranded, ending A1 Team Pakistan's race.
An understandably dissatisfied Adam Khan said, "I'm so disappointed to have been taken out of the Feature race. That first corner is so tight, with 22 cars trying to get round at once, there's bound to be an accident. I managed to rejoin the field after the first crash, but unfortunately at the restart there was another multi-car crash, which ended our race. I really am just so frustrated that we weren't able to show what we were capable of today."
A1 Team Pakistan driver coach Danny Watts said, "Adam did a good job in the Sprint race, he defended his position, made up a place at the restart and brought the car home in one piece for the Feature race. Unfortunately we were taken out of the Feature race early on, I don't think there's anything Adam could have done to avoid the accident - it's just on of the perils of racing at a street circuit like Durban."
Team Manager John Allen added, "We knew before the race started that it would be a matter of luck as well as good racing as to whether we would finish. However, I don't think we quite expected so many incidents, the first corner here is so tight, if there's one accident there's little chance of avoiding it. It's a shame for both Adam and the team that we couldn't continue, a lot of work has gone into this weekend, and I think we could have had a good race. We need to just forget about this weekend and turn our attention to the next event in Mexico."
A1GP takes a three week break, before the eighth round of the season which will take place in Mexico City. Track action at the Mexican round will kick of from 14 - 16 March.