Amsterdam, The Netherlands (April 10, 2009) - Portugal makes a welcome return to the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport schedule with the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve hosting Round 6 of the 2008-09 A1GP season this weekend, Friday 10th - Sunday...
Amsterdam, The Netherlands (April 10, 2009) - Portugal makes a welcome return to the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport schedule with the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve hosting Round 6 of the 2008-09 A1GP season this weekend, Friday 10th - Sunday 12th April.
TW Steel, the ‘Official Watch & Timing Partner' to A1GP will again be active on the ground in Portugal with the sixth round of this season's ‘Miss TW Steel' competition being held on Sunday afternoon at the track. The Portuguese finalists will be competing for a prize of $1500 US, a TW Steel watch and an entry into the ‘Miss TW Steel' grand finale in London this summer - with $25,000 US awarded to the overall winner as well as a professional photo-shoot in a leading lifestyle magazine.
TW Steel is available in a growing number of retail outlets in Portugal with this weekend's A1GP event another opportunity to showcase the brand with the ‘Miss TW Steel' competition, trackside promotion and of course, the awarding of engraved TW Steel A1GP watches to the pole position winners and the top-three A1GP drivers from Sunday afternoon's Feature race.
Competing on home soil undoubtedly brings a fair degree of pressure but A1 Team Portugal's Filipe Albuquerque is relishing the opportunity to compete on the brand-new 4.69km Autodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portimao. The 23-year-old from Coimbra has the pace to back up his status as one of the favourites for this weekend's race meeting.
Already a winner in the 2008-09 season, courtesy of a Feature race victory in Round 2 in China last November, the Portuguese racer's impressive track record has ensured his nation remains in the title fight. Currently sitting third in the Nations Standings, on 64 points, A1 Team Portugal lie nine points adrift of the leaders and reigning World Champions A1 Team Switzerland with A1 Team Ireland sandwiched between their European rivals.
Portugal is hosting an A1GP weekend for just the second time in series history. Estoril Circuit played host the first time back in the inaugural 2005-06 season, with A1 Team France's Alexandre Premat dominating both the Sprint and Feature races as the French began their dominant run to the title that year.
A1 Team Portugal ran Alvaro Parente on that occasion with a pair of top-six finishes the reward. The Porto-based racer picked up a sixth place finish in the shorter Sprint race before going one better in the Feature with a second-straight points scoring run, taking fifth at the checkered.
Parente earned 26 caps for his country while current driving incumbent, Albuquerque, is catching up with 18 A1GP race starts to his credit. A podium regular this season, Filipe, together with the passionate Portuguese fans, will be hoping for nothing less than a pair of wins to celebrate A1GP's debut at the Portimao track.
Autodromo Internacional do Algarve Driving Impressions:
To a driver, nothing is more important than track time, not least when a circuit, such as Portugal's Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, is brand new. With the entire field learning all the intricacies of the 17-turn circuit behind the wheel of a 600bhp A1GP car, ‘Powered by Ferrari', for the first time during Friday's practice session, the challenge will be who can ‘click' with the track first.
18-year-old Daniel Morad is hoping to do just that when he straps in to represent A1 Team Lebanon for the sixth race weekend this season. Morad arrived in Portugal off the back of both his and his country's best-ever A1GP result thanks to a strong run to sixth in Round 5's Feature race last time out at the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit in South Africa.
Keen to build on that result, Daniel's preparations for this race have included the basics of walking around the circuit with his engineer, through to spending time in a high-tech race simulator learning the track layout.
"The layout here's really great," commented Morad. "There are a lot of fast corners and some blind turns, it's actually quite similar to Kyalami where we last raced. It's going to be a good challenge for all the drivers as nobody's raced here before. That'll make it a level playing field for everyone which obviously presents a good opportunity if you can get up to speed quickly."
On discussing learning the circuit using the race simulator Daniel remarked; "It's a lot easier playing it on the simulator than it is running round the circuit like I did earlier! It's also good because it helps you familiarise yourself with the layout and where the elevation changes are and so on. While it's useful it doesn't actually help you develop a set-up for the car, it's really difficult to replicate what the real race car does and more importantly needs out there to be fast."
With a 17-turn configuration, the Algarve circuit certainly demands full attention but Morad sees lack of grip due to the newness of the venue as a potential issue but is still targeting a strong weekend for A1 Team Lebanon.
"I knew going into a track like Chengdu in China it was going to be physically challenging with a lot of winding corners and low grip levels. I'm expecting something similar here as it's a brand new circuit, the Formula One guys that were here testing recently didn't even use all the track we're using so it's really going to be a fresh track for A1GP. Personally I'm looking forward to it. We have a lot of sponsors and guests attending this weekend so I'm certainly aiming for a podium. The team's done a phenomenal job all season long so hopefully things will go our way here in Portugal!"