A1GP Title Fight Continues in South Africa London, Great Britain -- A1GP World Cup of Motorsport makes its first ever visit to South Africa's most famous motor racing circuit, Kyalami, this weekend for round five of the series, Go-GP.Org A1GP ...
A1GP Title Fight Continues in South Africa
London, Great Britain -- A1GP World Cup of Motorsport makes its first ever visit to South Africa's most famous motor racing circuit, Kyalami, this weekend for round five of the series, Go-GP.Org A1GP Gauteng, South Africa on 20 - 22 February 2009.
The Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit is located in Gauteng province, just north of Johannesburg and has a rich history of international motorsport events on four and two wheels. The balanced blend of slow, medium and fast corners and the fact Kyalami is nearly 2,000 metres above sea level will present a challenge to both the race drivers and engineers at this weekend's event.
The event is being supported by a number of commercial partners, including Go-GP.Org, the Gauteng government, SAB Miller, ABI and Neo Africa. Neo Africa will be hosting the exclusive Ignition and Podium parties and Pit Stop Party on the A1GP race weekend, as well as hosting a Charity Supercar Parade on race day for A1GP fans. Neo Africa will also be providing the facilities and communications infrastructure for the media centre at the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit.
Home nation A1 Team South Africa, with 22-year-old Adrian Zaugg at the wheel of the distinctively-liveried Vulindlela ("clear the way"), is currently ninth in the championship standings.
"I am always highly motivated to do well for my country, but especially in front of the home fans. We didn't do so well in Durban last year and we haven't enjoyed the start to the season we would have liked, so the Kyalami round is a big opportunity to get some good results and boost our championsh ip points," said the young South African.
Like the other drivers, Zaugg has no racing experience in an A1GP car on the 2.65-mile Kyalami circuit, although he completed a few demonstration laps in the previous A1GP car last year.
"Kyalami can be compared to Zandvoort (Netherlands) or Eastern Creek (Australia). It will present a real challenge to the drivers," he says. "There are ups and downs, quick turns, blind turns, it has a bit of everything. There are some slow and fast chicanes and it's quite bumpy in some places, but it's still a nice mix. Overtaking will be difficult, but there will be one or two places where it will definitely be possible.
"The key will be to have a car that works well over bumps and is good in direction changes. A responsive car will be important."
A1 Team Germany, as previously announced, will make its Season Four debut this weekend in South Africa. The car will be driven by Michael Ammermuller, who has 14 caps and one win to his name in A1GP, and overseen by Team Principal, Rolf Beisswanger.
Nicolas Prost will take on the driver duties in South Africa for A1 Team France this weekend. Prost will take over from Loic Duval who has driven the majority of races for the team over the last two seasons. It will be the 27-year-old's second ever full race meeting following his run in Chengdu earlier this season.
"After a very positive outing in China the team decided to put its trust in me again, which I'm very happy about," said Prost.
"I'm really looking forward to racing in Kyalami, but I know it will be difficult because the level of competition between the top six or seven guys is really high. I still need to learn a little bit, however, but if I can get the pace we can fight up front."
He should also be able to call on his father for some extra insights into the Kyalami circuit. The last time the circuit was used for a Formula 1 race was 1993 with his father, Alain Prost, winning the race.
"It's difficult for me because everywhere I race my Dad seemed to win there sometime," Prost said in good humour. "I'm really used to that feeling. It's nothing new. If I go to Magny Cours, or wherever, people go 'Hey do you remember that your Dad...' and I'm quickly like 'Yes, I remember what my Dad did...'"
A1 Team New Zealand will see the return of Earl Bamber on what will be his first visit to the Kyalami circuit. Bamber will be in the cockpit of Black Beauty for his third A1GP weekend and for what will be his final weekend of being classed as an A1GP Rookie, which has allowed him to take advantage of the extra hour rookie practice on Friday mornings.
The 18-year-old has been in a three-week high performance training programme based in Oxford in the United Kingdom in preparation for the challenging conditions expected in Kyalami.. The drivers will have to deal with the high altitude and hot conditions this weekend, which will be demanding on even the fittest drivers on the A1GP grid.
"I'm really excited to be back with the team for the next round of A1GP racing," said Bamber. "I feel the fittest I've ever been after the intensive training in the UK, so combined with a solid review of Taupo I feel we're in a good place as we head to South Africa.
"As a team we need to make sure we keep banking points, but I'd like to be back on the podium at Kyalami. We can't forget that the other nations have also made some good progress with the new car however."
A1 Team Great Britain has recalled Danny Watts to the driving seat. Watts had a very good reason for not being available for the last round in Taupo, as his partner was giving birth to their baby son. However, the 29-year-old will return to race for the team in South Africa.
"We're sort o f struggling in the points department at the moment so this weekend we've got to go out and get a really good result," said Watts. "A couple of podiums would be good. We'll all be putting in our best efforts as normal."
A1 Team Indonesia has announced a change of lead driver for the first time in nearly two years. Zahir Ali's performances in the last three rookie sessions have been enough to convince team bosses to give him the chance to be the squad's main race driver for the rest of the season with Ali replacing Satrio Hermanto from this weekend's races in South Africa
"The change in driver line up is a part of the A1 team Indonesia vision to support and improve the careers of young Indonesian drivers," said A1 Team Indonesia team principal Bagoes Hermanto.
"I am very proud to be given the honour of representing my nation in A1GP, I will give my best efforts to the team and my aim will be to achieve two solid finishes in the races," Ali said. "I have limited experience of the A1GP Powered by Ferrari car in comparison to some of the other drivers, but I hope to get to grips with the car and the new circuit as quick as possible."
USA will retain the services of Marco Andretti while Jeroen Bleekemolen will be back in the car for A1 Team Netherlands.
Salvador Duran will be back behind the wheel for A1 Team Mexico after making his A1GP comeback last time out in Taupo.
"We are ready for the race in South Africa at Kyalami," said Duran. "It is quite a complicated track, with medium speed corners and not many straights so you almost always have to be turning. I have talked with some people who have been there and they also agreed it is difficult. It's hard getting there to set up everything with no testing. However, we are going to do our best and we don't rule out getting a good result. At the moment, we can only promise that we are going to work intensely and make our best effort to achieve good results."
Portugal will have the familiar face of Filipe Albuquerque hoping to keep up momentum in preparation for the team's home event in April. Adam Carroll will be back for A1 Team Ireland in pursuit of both his and the teams first A1GP world title.
Prior to the race weekend A1GP went to the Phakisa Freeway Circuit, Welkom where the A1 Team Pakistan car ran for the first time with the team's seat holder, Adam Khan, at the wheel. The 4.24 km circuit, which is approximately 250 kms south east of Johannesburg, has been booked for three days. On Monday the engineers fired up this completely new car with testing today (Tuesday) and tomorrow (Wednesday).
The next race on the A1GP calendar is A1GP Algarve, Portugal. A1GP Mexico City will no longer take place on 20-22 March, and as soon as A1GP receives the necessary FIA approval a new date will be announced.
The Go-GP.Org A1GP Gauteng, South Africa event runs from 21 -- 22 February, with the series' first track action being the rookie driver and developing nations' sessions on Friday. Final practice and qualifying for the Sprint and Feature races will take place on Saturday with the two races scheduled to run on Sunday at 11.00 and 15.00 respectively.
About Kyalami circuit:
Kyalami is a motor racing circuit, in Gauteng, South Africa north of Johannesburg. The circuit has been used for Formula 1 races and has hosted the South African Grand Prix 23 times with the last one being held in 1993. The circuit has also played host to five rounds of the World Superbike series from 1998 - 2002. The original, sweeping circuit was in use from 1962 until 1985. When the circuit was rebuilt in the early 1990s as part of a commercial development, only the southern half of the original circuit was retained and became the northern half of the new circuit thereby switching the running direction of the circuit from clockwise to counter-clockwise. Kyalami is host to the 2008-09 South African round of the A1GP, taking over from the street circuit at Durban. The balanced blend of slow, medium and fast corners at Kyalami will present a challenge to both the race drivers and engineers, as will the high altitude location.
Track length: 4.26km (2.65miles)