Portimao: Team New Zeland Sunday notes

ROUGH DAY AT THE OFFICE FOR BLACK BEAUTY A1 Team New Zealand endured a day of double disappointment at Portugal's Algarve circuit, crashing out of both the Sprint and Feature Races at Round Six of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport. After a...

ROUGH DAY AT THE OFFICE FOR BLACK BEAUTY

A1 Team New Zealand endured a day of double disappointment at Portugal's Algarve circuit, crashing out of both the Sprint and Feature Races at Round Six of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport.

After a strong start from sixth on the grid in the Sprint Race, New Zealand's Earl Bamber was lining up a passing move on Lebanon on the opening lap. However as he got alongside the Lebanese car, the two touched, spinning New Zealand into the gravel trap and out of the race.

With sixth the better of New Zealand's two Qualifying results of the weekend, this was a tough blow for the Kiwi team, in a race that was won convincingly by The Netherlands.

Even before the longer forty-two lap Feature Race had got underway the drama started, with the Pole position car of The Netherlands stopping on the circuit after an apparent electrical fault.

From eleventh place on the gird, which in reality was tenth with the Dutch car out of the race, Bamber made a strong impression on the opening lap to move up to sixth place. He passed teams including Malaysia, in an aggressive move around the outside of the Malaysian car which put New Zealand on the tail of fast starting USA.

Drama continued when the race leading Irish car was judged to have jumped the race start, handing the front running team a drive-through penalty.

With a tight battle between USA, New Zealand and Italy prior to the first pit-stop, New Zealand's strategy left Bamber on the circuit for extra laps while the other cars around Black Beauty came in for the first of their compulsory pit-stops.

This strategy paid off with great results. In combination with a super fast pit-stop New Zealand vaulted past both Portugal and USA, to effectively sit in third place in the running order on track.

Following the first pit-stop, New Zealand pulled a small margin over fourth placed Portugal, and started applying pressure to the South African car, which appeared to be holding up Black Beauty in many of the braking zones around the Algarve circuit.

Eventually this was to catch Bamber out, with a brake lock-up from Bamber causing him to hit the South African car from behind, causing damage that would rule both cars out of the race.

The race was packed with other incidents following New Zealand's tangle, with just nine cars eventually making it to see the chequered flag. Switzerland were the victors in the Feature Race, followed provisionally by Ireland and Portugal, although the second placed Irish car crossed the line under investigation.

In the championship points standings, New Zealand drops one place to seventh, remaining on thirty six points, with Malaysia now five points ahead in sixth. Ireland now re-take the championship lead with a total of ninety two points although a stewards hearing is still to be concluded so the Feature Race result may change.

Focus now turns to the penultimate round of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport which races around Brands Hatch in the UK over the weekend 1-3 May 2009.

Black Beauty will also have a new Ferrari engine fitted to her for the next round of the championship, which brings further hopes for the team to continue the strong pace but turnaround to some points scoring results for New Zealand.

Earl Bamber, Driver

"We had a good start in the Sprint Race but had an unfortunate tangle with Lebanon."

"A long brake pedal combined with running off-line in the attempt to get past South Africa caused me to lock the rear brakes."

"The car had good pace, and the guys in the pit did a great job to turn the car around so quickly in the first stop."

John Sears, Team Manager

"The promising thing is we had strong pace today. It's just unfortunate that a couple mistakes meant we weren't able to deliver the result."

-credit: new zealand

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Series A1GP
Drivers Earl Bamber