NEW A1GP SERIES LEADER AS A1 TEAM AUSTRALIA HAVE A CHALLENGING WEEKEND IN SOUTH AFRICA The weekend's Go-GP.org A1GP at Gauteng, South Africa has seen A1 Team Switzerland climb to the top of the championship leaderboard with a feature race win...
NEW A1GP SERIES LEADER AS A1 TEAM AUSTRALIA HAVE A CHALLENGING WEEKEND IN SOUTH AFRICA
The weekend's Go-GP.org A1GP at Gauteng, South Africa has seen A1 Team Switzerland climb to the top of the championship leaderboard with a feature race win and third in the earlier run sprint race.
South Africa's Event was round five of the nine round 2008/2009 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport Series. The SuperGP on the Gold Coast, October 22-25, will be a part of the opening stages of the 2009/2010 season.
This weekend's win by driver Neel Jani sees him equal the all-time win record for a driver, which was set by Nico Hulkenberg with his nine wins for Team Germany.
Jani took the chequered flag 13 seconds ahead of a delighted Felipe Guimaraes who recorded the team's best result of the season and became the youngest ever A1GP medal winner. Clivio Piccione finished third to achieve Monaco's first ever podium in its debut season. Team Australia driver John Martin was 13th after having run as high as third during the race before a pit stop drama saw him drop down the order.
A1 Team Switzerland's result came after they stood on the podium earlier in the day for the Sprint Race, finishing third after enjoying a good start to move up to second off the standing start.
Finishing ahead of Jani in the sprint race was A1 Team Netherlands' Jeroen Bleekemolen who took his team's first victory of the season after driving a faultless race to cross the line four seconds ahead of runner-up Filipe Albuquerque of A1 Team Portugal. A1 Team Australia's John Martin was 12th after a faultless pit stop boosted him six places up the field.
The win by the Netherlands was the first for the team in 45 races, with South Africa appearing to be lucky for the team as its first of three wins to date was around the streets of Durban, South Africa's previous home of A1GP, in season one.
After round five of nine, Switzerland is now top of the 2008/09 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport standings. Former Series leaders A1 Team Ireland have been relegated to second place in the standings after crashing out on lap one after an incident with Malaysia.
WHAT THE DRIVERS HAD TO SAY...
Feature race winner Neel Jani of Team Switzerland following his win:
"It was a little bit of a replay start from Taupo, from fifth to second," said Jani.
"I was a bit worried starting from fifth, because I knew the first two turns would be very close and you could get knocked off easily, so my strategy was to just try the outside and it really worked and was a fantastic start.
"I then tried to follow Clivio (Piccione) and I struggled a bit. But then we had a great pit stop and I had good pace. I think Monaco had a bit of bad luck in the pit stop so that helped us too. But after it I could really keep up my pace."
Sprint race winner Jeroen Bleekemolen of Team Netherlands following his win:
"I'm feeling pretty good. It all just went amazingly," said Bleekemolen.
"It was a very hard race for me though, because in the beginning I could feel there was some kind of pull with the fuel pick up. It didn't cost me any time but I could just feel it coming. And then after the pit stop the car just stopped and I feared the race would be over, but it started working again.
"I lost about one and half or two seconds, but luckily we were still able to win.
"In the beginning we were really quick, I don't know why we were so much faster, but everything worked. The car worked really well until the problem came but then it still was exciting for me."
Team Australia driver John Martin:
Following the Sprint race:
"At the start I was looking for any opportunity whilst keeping the car in good shape. As the race unfolded I waited for the pit window and Robbie's call to come in," said Martin.
"The boys did another great job allowing me to jump six cars and get to 12th place. Now we start from 4th in the Feature and I'm looking forward to that in a few hours"
Following the Feature race:
"I was watching Rob (car controller) with the lolly pop and when he let me go all I saw was the German car in front of me so I braked and the engine stopped," said Martin.
"The crew guys tried pushing me to restart and that didn't work so they had to run half way down pit lane with the starter to get me going again.
"I had the best times over most of the race and was second fastest overall. We had Brazil covered and Monaco, all I had to do was to keep the car going as it was quick and running perfect.
"The Team Australia crew worked hard this weekend for us and I thank them for that, just wish this wouldn't happen and we got what we had planned for, the podium"