Durban: Team USA preview

A1 TEAM USA, Summerton ready to take on street circuit in South Africa Durban round is 7th of A1GP season DURBAN, South Africa -- A1 TEAM USA driver Jonathan Summerton knows there's no room for error this weekend (Feb. 22-24) when A1GP World Cup...

A1 TEAM USA, Summerton ready to take on street circuit in South Africa Durban round is 7th of A1GP season

DURBAN, South Africa -- A1 TEAM USA driver Jonathan Summerton knows there's no room for error this weekend (Feb. 22-24) when A1GP World Cup of Motorsport ventures onto the 2.04-mile street circuit with those menacing concrete-lined barriers at Durban, South Africa.

"You realize those walls surround you," Summerton said. "You can't run off the track even a little without damaging the car."

The 19-year-old from Kissimmee, Fla., isn't intimidated by the prospect of such precision driving. His attitude: bring it on.

"I like the challenge of pushing the car to the limit and not hitting the wall," he explained. "I like the track. For me, it's a lot of fun."

Summerton drove in his initial A1GP races last year at Durban, elevated by owner Rick Weidinger after four rounds as A1 TEAM USA's rookie driver.

"This will be the first time I'm coming back to a track in A1GP that I've actually raced on," Summerton said. "Hopefully, it will help us keep moving up."

Summerton was a season-best fifth in the Sprint in the previous round at Australia. He was running seventh midway through the Feature when France's Loic Duval drove into A1 TEAM USA's right rear and broke the car's suspension.

"We've been running stronger and stronger in each successive round," Summerton said. "The team has developed good setups for qualifying and the races. We're definitely looking at going to the front and we should be a threat to win at Durban."

Summerton has driven in the past four rounds and scored points in all of them. In eight career A1GP races, Summerton has scored points in seven. Durban was the exception.

Summerton qualified 12th for the Sprint in South Africa and was running 11th when the drive shaft failed on the 13th of 15 laps. He finished 20th.

Under A1GP's format last season (it's been changed for 2007-08), Summerton started the Feature in 20th and climbed to seventh with 16 of 49 laps remaining before a tire failure in the right rear from a puncture sent him hard into a concrete barrier.

"It was a big hit," Summerton said.

Summerton suffered a small fracture to his left hand in the crash.

"It hurt, but what hurt more was not scoring points in my first race weekend in the 'We the People' car," Summerton said. "But the experience we gained on the track will benefit us this weekend."

Weidinger knows the team is headed in the right direction going into the seventh of 10 rounds in the 2007-08 season.

"We are building momentum. TEAM USA had its best qualifying in Australia and the team earned its first top-five finish in the Sprint race and were headed for a great result in the Feature until France took us out," Weidinger said. "We're ready to stand on the podium at Durban."

A1 TEAM USA is 15th in the championship with 12 points.

"We a much better team than 15th and we have enough races remaining this season to prove it," Weidinger said.

Summerton will have a one-hour practice Friday and a one-hour practice Saturday to prepare for qualifying and the races. Qualifying is Saturday and the 20-minute Sprint and 70-minute Feature races are Sunday.

-credit: a1teamusatv.com

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Series A1GP
Drivers Jonathan Summerton , Rick Weidinger