Newsletter 2006-05-15

Countdown to Season Two: 19 weeks 6 days Busy weekend for A1 drivers A number of A1 drivers continued their summer programmes with a busy weekend of racing. In the fourth round of GP2, Nelson Piquet, Alex Premat, Nicolas Lapierre and Fairuz...

Countdown to Season Two: 19 weeks 6 days

Busy weekend for A1 drivers

A number of A1 drivers continued their summer programmes with a busy weekend of racing.

In the fourth round of GP2, Nelson Piquet, Alex Premat, Nicolas Lapierre and Fairuz Fauzy were taking part in their second successive weekend of racing, this time at the Catalunya circuit just outside Barcelona. After a qualifying session that was turned on its head, Piquet started from pole, Premat second, Lapierre thirteenth and Fauzy 25th, after a number of drivers, including original pole sitter Lewis Hamilton and Lapierre had their fastest times taken away for not heeding yellow flag warnings.

At the start of the first race, Piquet and Premat held their positions, but after pitting, Premat emerged behind ART team mate Lewis Hamilton. Piquet lost the lead after suffering a drive through penalty for speeding in the pit lane which dropped him down the field. This left Hamilton in the lead, with Premat a close second. On the last lap, Premat dived past Hamilton, resulting in contact which sent his team mate into a spin. Hamilton recovered to take second behind Premat. Piquet, meanwhile managed to fight his way back up to fourth.

The second race was a much quieter affair. Piquet made a lightening start to move up from fifth to second while Premat followed him through the field, up to third from his eighth place grid slot. Positions remained unchanged at the front of the field, with the Piquet and Premat finishing a close second and third respectively.

Piquet leaves Spain at the top of the championship table, with Premat currently lying third, and Lapierre fifth.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, two of A1GP's younger stars were getting to grips with the new street circuit in Houston, in the second round of the Champ Car Atlantic series.

A1 Team Lebanon driver Graham Rahal showed he had the pace to challenge for race wins, starting the race from third on the grid and making it up to second halfway through the race. With only a few minutes to go, Rahal challenged for the lead, making contact with race leader Matos, which saw Rahal fall down the field with damaged suspension. A1 Team South Africa driver, Stephen Simpson also had a day to forget after a promising sixth row start. Simpson made contact with the wall on the opening lap, which effectively ended his race.

Yoong and RfH team opt to miss the Spa Le Mans Series race

A1 Team Malaysia driver, Alex Yoong, did not take part in the Spa round of Le Mans Series following a team decision to change the engine installation of the Dome S101 sportscar driven by Yoong and team mate, Jan Lammers, who is also team owner of A1 Team Netherlands.

The Dome S101 Hb ran with a Mugen engine during the Paul Ricard test and the 1000KM race in Istanbul, but RfH has decided to change back to a Judd engine.

Yoong said of this decision, 'It is a shame we couldn't run at Spa, which would have given us more track time before the 24 hour race, but the 'big' race has always been our priority and we have to give ourselves the best possible chance for success in France. I'm enjoying driving in the sportscar, it makes a change to be in a bigger car than the A1 Grand Prix car. As in A1GP, the racing is fast, furious and very competitive.'

RfH with drivers Alex Yoong and Jan Lammers will be returning to track action for the Le Mans testing days in early June prior to the famed 24 hours of Le Mans race which takes place from 17-18 June. With the event coinciding with the Football World Cup, the car has been liveried with black and white football shapes. The team is planning for fans to be able to buy a 'ball' on the car - further details will be available shortly.

Winning A1 Team Malaysia Car on show in Malaysia

The A1 Team Malaysia car driven to victory by Alex Yoong at the Shanghai International Circuit on 2 April 2006 is currently in Malaysia.

A1 Team Malaysia have put together a roadshow in order to show the car to as many people as possible between now and mid June 2006.

A1GP chassis number 41 was used throughout the inaugural A1 Grand Prix World Cup of Motorsport season at circuits in 11 countries on 5 continents. The car was driven by both Alex Yoong and Fairuz Fauzy resulting in A1 Team Malaysia finishing 5th overall in the World Cup of Motorsport.

Yoong says of the roadshow, 'We felt that it was important to have the car in Malaysia to allow our commercial partners and the Malaysian public the opportunity to see the car 'up close and personal'. We are very proud of our achievements in the first A1 Grand Prix season and wanted to share that feeling with our supporters and fans. The most logical way to do that was to ship the car to Malaysia and show it off!'

The car will be appearing at the following venues:

* Mid afternoon Friday 12 May to Sunday 14 May - P.I.S.A Penang Property Show in conjunction with LH labels

* Monday 15 May to Wednesday 17 May - lobby of Menara PanGlobal, 8 Lorong P Ramlee, Kuala Lumpur

* Wednesday 18 May - Concorde hotel Shah Alam in conjunction with Mayflower Car Rental

* Monday 22 May to Tuesday 23 May - on display at the ASTRO office park.

* From 26 May to 4 June the car will be on display as an integral part of the Proton stand at the KL International Motorshow at the PWTC in Kuala Lumpur.

Team principal, Jack Cunningham, 'By bringing the car to Malaysia we hope to be able to thank our loyal fans for their support over that past year. Not many people get a chance to see a real single seater car of this calibre, so if you have a chance please pop along to one of the venues for this unique opportunity and remember when you do that it is not just a show car - it is the real thing!'

Another mile stone for first female A1GP driver Katherine Legge had a successful day of testing on the infamous Milwaukee Mile, happy with her first taste of oval driving.

'We had a good day', Katherine said, 'I think we were faster than the guys who were there last week, which is always the aim. There were similar conditions as well, so it was a success as far as we're concerned.'

Katherine took to the track in an A1GP car at the Dubai Autodrome for A1 Team Great Britain last December. John Surtees, Team Principal, was very impressed with her feedback on the car during the two extra test sessions, 'Katherine did absolutely everything that was asked of her', adding 'when it comes to reviewing the situation for next year's programme, she'll certainly be considered'.

'We the People' car makes a pit stop en route to Indy

A1 Team USA and title sponsor GEICO invited nearly 25,000 Berkshire Hathaway shareholders to cheer for Al Unser, Jr. driving the 'We The People' car at this year's Indianapolis 500 during the GEICO parent company's annual shareholder's meeting. Berkshire Hathaway is headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska.

A1 TEAM USA Owner Rick Weidinger presented Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett (pictured) and GEICO CEO Tony Nicely with Official team helmets at the meeting, while both executives took turns behind the wheel of their team's Indianapolis 500 entry.

'As a native Nebraskan, someone who grew up in Omaha and graduated from high school, college and graduate school right here in town, it is a real honor to present A1 Team USA to Mr. Buffett.' said Weidinger. 'I personally want to thank Tony and Bill Roberts [Executive Vice President of GEICO] for the opportunity to participate in this fantastic event. Next stop, Indy and we'll carry the spirit of the entire GEICO and Berkshire Hathaway community with us.'

-a1gp

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About this article
Series A1GP
Drivers Jan Lammers , Graham Rahal , Alex Yoong , Lewis Hamilton , Nelson Piquet , Katherine Legge , Fairuz Fauzy , Nicolas Lapierre , Stephen Simpson , John Surtees , Rick Weidinger , Jack Cunningham , Al Unser